What's In A Name? | Dog River

Aug 2, 2018

Dog River Blues is the title of a popular song by two-time grammy winning artist Alan Jackson.

As Jackson himself says at the begining of the video, the song is about a river in his home state of Georgia called Dog River. 

The curious name is a mystery even to residents of Douglas County, where the river is located. 

Lisa Cooper, a local blogger shared some popular theories as to how the river got its name. 

The earliest name she can find for the river was Trout Creek, which she believes was the Creek Native American’s name for the river.

She couldn’t pin down when the shift between names occurred, but she said that some believe Ephraim Pray, one of the first colonizers of the region, used to say the river got its name from a deer hunt gone wrong, when dogs fell into the river and drowned.

Another story she's found to explain the name comes from Georgia's Civil War history.

During the battle of New Hope Road, Cooper says it is possible that Confederate and Union soldiers may have fought as far west as Dog River.

One tactic Confederate soldiers may have used to relay messages between camps was sending messages in the collars of dogs; who would swim across the river with a message safe in its collar.

In this instance, Cooper says the story goes that carrier dog was shot in the middle of the river by a Union soldier.


From Trout Creek to Dog River, the waterway has always been an important fixture for local residents. 

Today, although the Dog River has changed a bit over the years, it remains an important waterway for Douglas county. The river is now dammed and provides the surrounding area with drinking water. It's a place for local residents to relax, go fishing, and take in the beautiful scenery.

A few miles down the way the Dog River flows into the Chattahoochee River. 

From dogs drowning in the midst of a deer hunt, or  a courier dog being shot dead in river during the Civil War; which take on the reason behind Dog River's name do you prefer?

Click here to find more stories behind curious Atlanta names from our summer 2018 series "What's In A Name?" on 88.5 GPB Atlanta’s All Things Considered.