Naming A Lake After Their Dog

Guardians seek to honor deceased dog
By Karen B. London PhD, November 2018, Updated June 2021
dog and man at lake

A couple in Sitka, Alaska wish to name a lake after their dog who perished in the mudslide that formed it. They have applied to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names in the hope that the one-acre body of water will forever be known as Luna Lake, after their 11-year old Border Collie. This could never take away the pain of losing her, but it would please them to pay tribute to the dog who brought so much joy and love into their lives.

Long before Kevin Knox and Maggie Gallin knew each other, Knox adopted Luna, who was 9 months old at the time. She was a great source of comfort following the death of his father in 2006 and of his wife, Beth Peterman, in 2009.

After comforting Knox through some rough years and being the center of his family, Luna matched that by bringing Gallin into his life. Knox needed a dog sitter, and Gallin applied. They began dating a year after they met, and married not long after that.

In 2013, the family of three were camping at a U.S Forest Service cabin when a sound as loud as a jet engine alerted Knox to the hillside that was beginning to descend upon them. He yelled for his wife to run, and she did, along with the dog. Luna was right at their heels the last they saw of her, but when the slide was over, they couldn’t find her. They searched on their own for hours and then later with a trained search-and-rescue dog, but she was never found.


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State regulation protocols discourage the naming of geographical features after pets, but the people who make up the Sitka commission like the idea and are in favor of the proposal. They will need to do some additional research about precedents in other areas to determine if it is possible. A final decision will be made in December.

The small lake that was created five years ago when the landslide blocked a stream is still there, and It’s impossible to imagine a more fitting name for it than Luna Lake.

Photo: iStock

Karen B. London, Ph.D. is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral issues, including aggression. Karen writes the animal column for the Arizona Daily Sun and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She is the author of six books about canine training and behavior, including her most recent, Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life