1. Porch test: Make a list of potential pup names. Open your front door. Step outside. Holler out the first one on the list. Holler it again. How's that feel? Do it one more time. If you find yourself cringing that you just shouted "Mr. Scritchie!" at the neighborhood multiple times, cross it off the list and move on. Repeat. For the kid version, drive to a playground in a different city than the one you live in. Yell out the moniker you're considering bestowing on your impending heir. Consider that you're going to be saying this name often and in public. Can you sing-song "Where are you, Huckleberry?" with ease? And why go to a playground far away? Because you don't want to be remembered as "that weird guy" when you have an actual kid you're pushing on the swings. (One perhaps not named Huckleberry.)
2. Whether dog or child, we have enough Bodhis, folks. This is Humboldt County, after all.
3. Which reminds me, don't name your kid after a strain of weed. Seriously. Sativa Blue is not going to thank you. Indica Rose, Ganja Mae? No. Don't do it. Blaze may seem dope when you're high, but it's not necessarily something you want to write on a form for the next 18 years. (Naming your dog after pot? You really need to get out more.) Other things to not name your kid after: food, bands, brands, Greek Gods, cities. (Especially bands named after cities. They're the worst.)
4. Speaking of forms, do this: Write the name under consideration — first, middle, last — on a piece of paper. Repeat 50 times. You'll be filling out approximately 1.34 million forms over the next 18 years, an important fact to remember. In hindsight, I'd have gone with Jo, Cy and Al, forget the middle names. Same goes for the dog. Do you really want to explain to the vet that your animal's name is Sunshine Muffin McSnuggles The Champ?
5. For the love of all that is good in the world, please, please, please don't confuse injecting random letters or bizarre pronunciation with originality. Don't spell Lisa, "Leasaugh." Don't pronounce Lisa, "Leh-say." I mean, you can. It's your baby dog.
Bonus: If you take away only one piece of advice, think about this: What you name your child is the single most important decision you will make as a parent. Not really — your child will most likely be way more screwed up by other mistakes you make, and your dog won't care at all. You'll be the one living with the consequences — because what you name the creature in your care says not too much about who they are, but a whole lot about who you are. (See what Freakonomics has to say, here http://bit.ly/ZhQtR3)