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What's in a name? From Sherlock to Games of Thrones characters, a new survey reveals how pet names are now heavily influenced by TV. Enough is enough, says Kirstie McCrum.

Byline: Kirstie McCrum

IF you go down to the park today, you could be in for a big surprise. Keep your ears out and you may hear shouts of Arya, Khaleesi and even Walter. Confused? Chances are if you hear, "Here, Sherlock, walkies!" it will all suddenly become clear. Apparently we're naming our beloved pets after our beloved TV shows, which probably shouldn't come as a surprise. The survey, from John Lewis Pet Insurance, has access to more than 90,000 pet names and has revealed 30 animals are named Sherlock and 29 Dr Watson. Literary names they may be, but I suspect it was more Cumberbatch and Freeman's iterations that were the inspiration. Goodness knows it's all leading to the generally embarrassing trend of naming perhaps a small, harmless beagle after a methamphetamine manufacturer called Walter, after the anti-hero in American series Breaking Bad. Call me old fashioned, but doesn't it seem a trifle sad that the box in the corner of the lounge where all your furniture points is pipping our imaginations to the post? Not to make it sound like too cerebral a business - time was when animals bore monikers dictated simply by their physical attributes. I recall with fondness our yellow Labrador, Shandy; my primary school best friend's tabby cat Tiger; and even one of the McCrum's idiosyncratic pets, Floppy the Nubian goat. Google them, you'll see where the name comes from pretty quickly. But please do take a moment and spare a thought for the six dogs - and four cats - named after Arya Stark from Game of Thrones. Let's hope that Daenerys Targaryen hasn't yet made the cut. It puts me in mind of those online reports about parents naming their kids Hashtag or something similarly woeful. Of course, naming the family pet is a very serious business. I do recall some hoo-ha about what we were going to name our third cat when I was in my teens, before eventually settling on Seamus. I like to think it was after the Nobel Prize-winning poet Heaney who was raised within five miles of our family home, but suspect it was more prosaic than that. Of course, none of us are immune to the TV influence, so all-pervasive is this tool of popular culture. So I guess it's understandable that it's infiltrated pet-naming if it's also become the primary source of children's names. The Office for National Statistics figures released last month shows that, amongst British babies' names on their annual list, there were 187 Aryas, five Sansas and three Catelyns, more names from the fictional land of Westeros. My boyfriend and I, voluntarily childless and occasionally seduced by the idea of a pet, have flirted with a cat called Stringer Bell or a dog called Dirty Harry - or rather the idea of them - but you've got ask yourself when the novelty will wear off. Game of Thrones may be what the cool kids are watching nowadays, but chances are your little Joffrey will be around long after anyone remembers where that came from. It's a trifle concerning that our imaginations on this score have been overtaken by TV. Forget Spot and Scruffy - so long Misty and Brandy - it's full steam ahead for goldfish called Lady Sybil and a gerbil called Countess Cora. Joking apart, let's hope the madness ends here, before you're down in the park one day and come face to face with Mary Berry the pug dog.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 20, 2014
Words:577
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