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I’ve always found my name, Christopher, a bit boring, until today. The reason for this turnaround is that I’ve just discovered that the name has canine origins rooted in the legend of St Christopher. In some Christian tales, St Christopher was originally a giant of cynocephalic “stock” named Réprebos, whose only form of communication was through barking (to be cynocephalic is to be dog-headed). After being challenged to display his power God granted Réprebos human speech. He later becomes devoted to Christ after carrying him across the river. As David Gordon White explains in his book Myths of the Dog-Man (1991), St Christopher was portrayed with a dog’s head up until the beginning of the nineteenth century in Eastern Christian hagiography and iconography.

A dog-headed St Christopher

This version of the St Christopher story shows how dogs have long been tied up in religious and spiritual stories (for more on this check out material in Susan McHugh’s book Dog [Reaktion, 2004]). One other example worth mentioning is the Greek goddess Hecate who was often depicted as associating with dogs. If you know of any other dog-related names, please let me know.