It’s Brutus, not Bruno! The Etiquette for Remembering the Names of Your Friends’ Pets.

Kiyomi Lowe regularly hears that people pronounce her name incorrectly or sometimes forget it completely. “I get Naomi, Kaiomi, sometimes Kimmy,” she said. It doesn’t bother her: “I react to everything.”

She is less forgiving when friends and acquaintances forget the name of her dog, a Shar-Pei. “I get Bruno a lot,” she said. To which she replied: “’No, it’s Brutus!’ The dog doesn’t care. But I care about the dog.”

Ms. Lowe is a stylist at Al’s Barber Shop, a popular six-chair salon in Boulder, near the University of Colorado campus. On a recent morning, she found herself engaged in a lively conversation with her fellow stylists and several clients about a delicate question: Should you be responsible for remembering the name of a friend’s pet? What is the etiquette?

“A big ask,” said Jen Himes, a stylist, who admitted that she sometimes made a name mistake, which hurt her. ‘I’ve used a lot of pet names incorrectly. I say, “How’s Pookie?” And they say, ‘It’s Rufus!’ or whatever.”

“Most people laugh,” she said. “But some people say, ‘That’s offensive.'”

When it comes down to it, she added, there’s a pretty good way to determine whether you’re required to remember a pet’s name. “It depends on how important the pet is to your friend,” she said.

There was general agreement with that assessment in the barbershop (which happens to be the reporter’s regular barbershop). The conversation was mostly about dogs, which, as several people said, are different from other pets in that they are taken for walks and out and about, and therefore deserve more name recognition than more private pets.

“That’s cat discrimination!” Mrs. Himes objected. She laughed and suggested she wasn’t too concerned about it. Even she doesn’t always stick to the name of her own tuxedo cat, Cosmos.

“I call her Kitty,” she said.

Al’s Barbershop is owned by Al Urbanowski, who identified another important factor in whether you should remember the name of a friend’s pet: how important the friend is to you. Mr. Urbanowski, 58, still remembers Whiskey, the name of his best friend’s dog when he was 9. Mr. Urbanowski now lives in a neighborhood full of dogs, he said, and his volatile relationships with neighbors make it difficult to remember the names of both dogs and people.

Your interpersonal connections change with age, he noted, and that changes what you can and should remember. By age 25, Mr. Urbanowski said, dogs were part of the walks and other social outings he took with friends and were a big part of those friendships.

“When I had kids, dog names didn’t roll off the tongue,” he said. Remembering a dog’s name “is still a priority, but it has been pushed.”

The barbershop group said that part of the responsibility lay with the person who tried to remember the name of the friend’s pet, but that part of the responsibility could also lie with the friend, who could choose a pet name that was easy to remember.

“The funnier the name, the easier it is to remember,” Ms. Lowe said. “Like Derek.”

Derek is memorable? Yes, she insisted.

“Luke Skywalker,” Ms. Himes said, recalling the name of a client’s dog who stayed with her.

“Big Tuna,” said Madisyn Crandell, a stylist at Al’s, referring to the name of one of her mother’s two English bulldogs. (The other, Lucy, was considered a less memorable name by the group.)

“Doug,” said Jason Owens, who had been standing faithfully nearby as his 11-year-old son, Ryder, got his haircut. Doug was the name of a friend’s Corgi. “How could I forget a name like Doug,” Mr. Owens said. But maybe he would forget Doug if it were the name of a person, he added.

Recently the Rottweiler of the Owens family, Derby, died. Mr Owens said most friends did not remember Derby’s name, but they remembered his nickname, Cheeky.

“She was the sweetest dog,” Mr. Owens said. “Dumb as rocks, but the sweetest dog.” He didn’t mind at all when his friends called Derby dumb, too. “I’d be like, ‘Yeah, you’re right: She’s dumb as rocks.'”

Others have a hard time getting past a forgotten pet name. Christian Huerta, a receptionist at Al’s with a pit bull mix named Frida, had a friend who repeatedly called her dog Freya. Mrs. Huerta came up with a plan.

“I texted her several times when she came over, and I said, ‘Frida is excited to see you’ — for example, I would spell Frida,” Ms. Huerta said. “And my friend said, ‘Freya!’ And I was angry.”

Mrs. Huerta thought about that. “Maybe it’s not that serious,” she said. “Maybe I’m too sensitive.” She then compared it to forgetting something else important, like a birthday.

“I think it bothers me because I love my dog ​​so much,” she said.

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