The Name Game

June 8th, 2011

So teh Internetz haz spoken, and the name of Prime Minister Stephen Harper‘s new tabby cat is … Stanley. The PM, whose family adopted the adorable grey furball (above) from the Ottawa Humane Society, put his faith in democracy, inviting Canadians to vote on Facebook for their preferred name. (Did “Stanley” take a clear majority, we wonder? Or will it be forced into a fragile coalition with the French-language frontrunner “Vingt-Quatre”? Will it hold up, or will we all be forced to vote again in a couple of years?)

We like Stanley — the name, that is. It’s solid and unpretentious, with a subtle nod to the country’s treasured hockey heritage.  And given the risks of outsourcing the whole pet-naming business to the whims of the online community (especially when you’re a less-than-beloved federal politician), the outcome seems to have been pretty optimal.

Actually, we wish more pet owners these days would go for straightforward, meat-and-potatoes names like Stanley. But as New Zealand-based pet blogger Nick Barnett of Four Legs Good observed recently, the current trend is for people to “strive to find a name that’s as distinct and characterful as their unique pet.”

And the results? Well, they’re often … unfortunate. A sampling of the names that Barnett has come across lately:

Grip, Flex, Axle, Gizmo, Diesel, Fender, Radar, Ronk, Nike, Ambra, Astral, Crypto, Diablo, Makaria, Murderface, Juno, Orion, Zeus, Pericles, Isis, Osiris, Jupiter, Zephyr, Worf, Spiffy, Sniffy, Snazzy, Cricket, Parsley, Chops, Piglet, Turtle, Chicken, Freeway, Safari, Ramble, Tax, Didge, Boost, Sonic, Corban and Rasta.

Like Barnett, we’re curious to know how folks come up with pet names — and what mental process, exactly, leads someone to settle on … Murderface?

More pictures of Stanley on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Official Facebook page.


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