Name Theory: Name Them to Sell

When given the opportunity to name something, like our elf, I often try to think of names the same way I do with character names. It is one way to practice naming and, as you may have guessed, I enjoy the hunt for the perfect name.

So, it makes me a little sad and frustrated when others don’t seem to put any real thought into naming.

I got a pet snail for my father in-law for Christmas this year. I know this may sound odd, but he really enjoys SpongeBob and especially that character’s pet snail, Gary (who meows!). Also my FIL is very scientifically minded, and he loves studying thing and beings, most recently adopting a spider that lived in his office until its death a few weeks ago.

I didn’t know about the spider when I chose the gift, but my husband, his mother, and his father all commented on it when they learned of the snail. The snail has become the replacement pet, in a way.

With my own brand of control freak, and with my penchant for naming, I have spent the last few weeks considering names for the snail. I considered Bob (since it is yellow like the sponge), rhyme names like Larry or Barry, and pure unisex names like Alex or Lee (since the snail is a hermaphrodite). In the end, I didn’t put too much effort into it because I knew whatever I said my FIL would call it whatever he wanted.

My husband and son kept calling the snail Gary, and I kept saying, “Don’t call him that. He doesn’t even look like Gary. Gary is pink.” But they didn’t listen.

Maybe I should have. My FIL is calling the snail Gary.


I’ll get over it. It’s his pet, and he loves Gary so the name is also a bit of an endearment.

Still, I wish I could do something about the SPCA. You see, the local SPCA has a mini-store in the mall with mostly cats, which we visit whenever we’re shopping. And guess who loves to see what every cat or rabbit or rat is named?

Mostly the names are tame, like Emily, and sometimes they get some interesting ones like Vader for a black cat, but sometimes I just want to slap whoever named certain of the animals.

Most often when I’ve gone there in the past few weeks there has been a great turnover in the cats there. Many people are adopting new pets for the holidays, which is great. One of the cats that didn’t get adopted is Pasta Batman.

Seriously. No joke.

At first I thought it was cute, like maybe the cat likes to steal pasta and sneaks around in the dark of night to do so. Nope. The brown female cat was named after a dog in an NPR story. The cat does not like pasta, does not stalk around in the dark (it’s a napper), and is not any kind of a man.

And the cat is not selling.

You see, if I was naming these cats I would name them to sell. I read an article a few months ago about a dog named after a brand that was adopted by someone who loved that brand, and it got me to thinking that if you named an animal correctly you could get it a new home faster.

I think that by naming pets with names that the demographic which is shopping for them will recognize (SpongeBob might be a good name, actually), you will increase the chance that people will take a chance on those pets.

I wish the SPCA would think about that, because if they did then those two rat brothers (whose former owner was a hoarder) might have been adopted long ago. Instead they have been there for weeks with little to no interest.

Their unfortunate names are Carl and Rick, which I immediately guessed were a reference to the Walking Dead even though I’ve never seen that show. Carl and Rick might be a funny reference for a fan of the show, but to others they sound like clunky middle aged dad names, bordering on creepy old man names. And the demographic that watches that show is not the demographic that would adopt rats.

Rats would primarily be interesting as pets to young families with children who seek an easy pet (Bert and Ernie or Remy and Emile would be good names to sell to this demographic), and college students or young adults who can only have caged pets (Wormtail and Scabbers or Leonard and Sheldon may appeal to this demographic).

It makes me sad every time I see those rats in the SPCA store, every time I see someone peak at their name card and then walk away. As the victims of a hoarder, they deserve a forever home where they will be loved and cared for.

And where, maybe, they will receive new names given with love.


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