News Treehugger Voices Meet the Treehugger Puppies (and Learn Their Names) There were so many good nature-themed suggestions. By Mary Jo DiLonardo Mary Jo DiLonardo LinkedIn Twitter Senior Writer University of Cincinnati Mary Jo DiLonardo has worked in print, online, and broadcast journalism for 25 years and covers nature, health, science, and animals. Learn about our editorial process Updated December 14, 2020 03:52PM EST Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email This little guy would pose all day. . Mary Jo DiLonardo News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive There wasn't a Fido or Rover in the bunch. When we asked you to help us name our Treehugger foster puppies, you certainly got creative. You gave us names for trees and snow and other types of weather. There were gods and goddesses, foods, and sustainability terms. I stopped counting somewhere after I read 500 suggestions on our website and social media. Our staff pored over the ideas, picked our favorites and then forwarded them to the team at Speak! St. Louis, where these three adorable Australian shepherd puppies are from. Meet Attie, Kuruk, and Bernard. The three fluffy puppy polar bears now have monikers inspired by real names for bears. Attie is a Gaelic name that means "strong as a bear." Kuruk is a Pawnee name for bear. (That's him in the photo above.) And Bernard is of Germanic origin, meaning "brave as a bear." "When we first saw photos of the foster puppies, they reminded us of polar bear cubs," says Melissa Breyer, Treehugger's editorial director. "We loved all the names submitted by readers, but the cute and creative bear names really resonated with everyone." "The bear names were a hit and the names were a perfect fit for this beary adorable litter!" says Judy Duhr, director of Speak! St. Louis. "We loved all the participation and thoroughly enjoyed reading all the name suggestions. There were so many great ones, that we compiled a list to refer to in the future. Such great names for such great puppies!" About the Puppies Sweet Attie doesn't seem to be able to hear. Mary Jo DiLonardo I'm fostering these 5-week-old special needs puppies and we'll be documenting their progress on Treehugger social media. Speak took the puppies because they are what is known as double merles. Merle is a lovely mottled pattern in a dog's coat. When two merle dogs are bred together, their puppies have a 25% chance of being double merle — which results in a mostly white coat and usually means they have hearing or vision loss or both. We don’t know for sure yet exactly what is going on with these puppies. Attie doesn't appear to be able to hear at all and Bernard has vision loss in one eye. Kuruk and Bernard appear to be responding to some sounds. While some deaf dogs can hear different pitches, whether they can hear human voice will determine if they need to learn sign commands. Handsome Bernard has vision loss in one eye. Mary Jo DiLonardo Sometimes the merle gene can be recessive and breeders don’t know what might happen with their offspring. Often, disreputable breeders don’t care and hope to get more merle puppies. I’ve fostered two blind and deaf dogs, three deaf dogs, and one blind dog. They either learn from hand signals, voice commands, or touch. Many people feel sorry for them, but there's no reason for sympathy. That's their normal and they navigate the world impeccably. Sure, they might bounce off a few walls or not come when called. But my own rescue dog often doesn't come when called and I'm absolutely certain he hears me. We just picked up the puppies on Saturday and so far, all I've done with these guys is a lot of snuggling. We're going to start working on "sit" with hand and voice signals. And we really have to start potty training because three puppies equals lots and lots of pottying. We'll rely on your help to spread the word when it's time for them to find perfect homes. We urge you to consider supporting your favorite rescue group. Puppies like these couldn't be saved without the help of groups like Speak! St Louis. Thanks for your help naming our floofy trio. Stay tuned for updates! View Article Sources Keller's Cause. "What Is A Double Merle?". Doublemerles.Info, 2016.