Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On the Naming of Pets

There are certain names out there that seem synonymous with certain kinds of pets. For dogs, it's names such as Rex, King and Butch. And how many feline Fluffies, Mittens and Socks have you known?

For me, the naming of pets is a long process, one that must result in a moniker that is meaningful and unique.

Let me introduce you to my pets, past and present.

The Dog

Cindi. Cindi was a Springer Spaniel - Beagle cross (which I called a spanxbeagle). She had a Spaniel's build with a Beagle's markings. Her fur was of medium length and straight except for cutls behind her ears. My mother wanted to call her 'Cinnamon' (after the colour of her fur).  I suggested we shorten 'Cinnamon' to 'Cindi' as I had heard that dogs respond better to names that are one or two syllables long. (My cousin's wife Cindy was not sure if she should be flattered or not.)

The Gerbils

Stonehenge, Nutmeg, Reepicheep and Pandora. This quartet of gerbils represented the eclectic interests of my wife and I. Pandora was named for the Greek mythological figure, Stonehenge for the monument in England, Reepicheep for the valorous mouse in the Narnia novels, and Nutmeg for the colour of her fur. Coincidentally enough, Pandora was the longest lived, goig on to live alone in the habitat we had built and dubbed 'Pandora's Box'.

The Rats

Gorm 'n' Ghast. These two hooded rats were named after the Gorminghast novels by Mervyn Peake. (I must admit though that I have never been able to get through the books. I did however enjoy the television adaptation.) Though between them Gorm was the dominant one, it was Ghast who told off our cats whenever their feline curiosity led them to peer inside the cage.

The Cats

Shimmer, Spark and Sigil. Alliteration was never the original goal, but when both Shimmer and Spark ended up with names beginning with 'S' it was inevitable that any cats that followed would also be similarly dubbed. Shimmer is a Russian Blue with a glossy black-grey coat, which many people believe to be the origin of her name. In truth she is named after the dragon 'Shimmergloom' from an R. A. Salvatore fantasy novel. Spark got her name from a talkative knight in an anime called 'Record of Lodoss War' (since she was also extremely noisy). After Spark died, we got a third cat to keep Shimmer company. Enter Sigil-glyph Deathward (shortened to just Sigil), the large black polydactyl cat with extra toes, extra claws (between those toes), and a patch of fur on her throat resembling a priest's collar. Though sinisterly named, Sigil is a suck to the nth degree, being in constant need of physical proximity (if not contact). Paradoxically, the name Sigil came with was Ares (the Greek god of war). As a side note, 'sigil', 'glyph' and 'ward' are all words that mean 'symbol'.

As you can see, our sources were varied, ranging from Greek mythology to linguistics, from literature to the spice rack. All in all I think we've come up with a menagerie of unique names.

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