Our son is named after a cartoon dog. He loves having an unusual name.

Our son is named after a cartoon dog. He loves having an unusual name.
  • Just after we got married, my husband and I watched the movie "The Fox and the Hound."

  • He said he wanted to name our first son Copper, after a dog in the film, and I just laughed.

  • But he was serious, and over time the name grew on me. Our son loves his unusual name.

My son Copper was named after a cartoon dog. In the nearly seven years of his life, we have met many dogs with the same name. (We have yet to meet another human with it.) It's a real conversation starter, with people saying, "Copper as in copper… like the metal?" I always respond, in a matter-of-fact way, "Yep, that's how you say it."

Yes, it's a noun that we turned into a proper noun, but, to our credit, Disney did it first. We just followed their lead.

The 1981 film "The Fox and the Hound" follows a dog named Copper and a fox named Todd who become the best of friends, so it was only natural we had a fox-themed nursery when Copper was born. Though the decor wasn't planned until my pregnancy, we decided on his name long before his birth. Just months after we were married, my husband put on the film. (His love of cereal and cartoons are just a few of the ways he's a child at heart.)

"Copper," he said while watching. "I like it. If we have a boy, that will be his name." I laughed it off, not ready to make that decision, and honestly, I quickly forgot about the conversation. Two years later, when I was actually pregnant with a boy, he reminded me of the choice.

I sat on it for a few weeks deciding whether I liked it enough to give it to our child. I didn't not like it — I thought it was cute and different without being strange. Plus, it's spelled the way it's pronounced, which is my biggest rule for choosing a name for our child. Like any other parent, I want things to be easy for my kids and don't want them to spend their time and energy teaching people how to say or spell their names. (After all, I've had to teach people to spell my name my entire life — I know what it's like.) In the end, it grew on me.

Before I was even six months pregnant, we had decided on his name.

Almost every nurse gets it wrong on the first try

He's dubbed "Cooper" by every nurse at every doctor's office we have ever attended. A nurse who doesn't know him is likely to call out the more common "Cooper" when it's time to take his vitals. They make the mistake only the first time, however; once I correct them (politely), it's a name no one forgets.

Most laugh and say, "Yep, that's how it's spelled — I just wasn't sure," or something to that effect. And to their credit, you can't always be sure. If you're unsure, it's always better to ask. But I digress.

All of the above, in part, is why we chose the safer (and, admittedly, more boring) name Colt for his younger brother. Ironically, Copper loves his name, and Colt is often offended that he doesn't get the same attention toward his name.

Bethaney Phillips with her husband, her son Copper, and her son Colt.
Bethaney Phillips and her husband named their first son Copper and their second son Colt.Courtesy Bethaney Phillips

We love his name and can't imagine it being anything else

Just a few weeks into Copper's life, we knew we'd chosen a name that was as fun and recognizable as he was. At almost 7 years old, he is consistently the life of the party, a seemingly inspiring comedian just by being himself. I laugh multiple times a day just from being around this kid and his hysterical comments.

At his preschool parent-teacher conferences we were told, "Every single parent said: 'Which one is Copper? We hear about him all the time.'" And that is the best way to sum up life with our son.

When we go out in public, countless kids come up to greet him, and adults say, 'Hi,' and wave. And as the true squirrel-chasing being that he is, he's already onto the next thing. Meanwhile, these are often people I have never met in our tiny town, let alone spoken with.

I had no idea his name would be such a big deal to folks. It's pretty straightforward, yet, here we are, finishing his kindergarten year, with people still surprised — and even delighted — at the boy named after the cartoon dog.

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