Pet names are quick to respond to changing fashions, writes Bairbre O'M alley
Just as hemlines are known to go up and down with economic trends, pets' names also reflect the changing times. In London during the Eighties, the yuppie puppy was the ultimate accessory. Sleek Burmese cats with names like Puma and Reebok, and glamorous Afghan hounds called Gucci were all the rage.

Now, in the more sombre Nineties, you are more likely to meet a sturdy crossbred called Squatter helping his owner sell the Big Issue at the Tube station, or a Heinz 57 mongrel called Giro.

Working as a vet in London, as I am, you witness the changing trends in pets' names almost daily, to the point where you can guess the animal's vintage by what is currently showing on television or at the cinema. All the old Hollywood heroes have had their day. Macho bull terrier breeds once answered to names like Clint, Burt or Brando. Now they come swaggering into the surgery kitted out like Gladiators in black-studded harnesses, boasting names such as Scorpio, Wolf or Saracen.

In the past, young Rocky or Rambo the rottweiler used to stride into surgeries with gleaming fangs and blood-curdling snarls. Now these canine status symbols are middle-aged, running to fat and hobbling in for arthritis tablets. While Schwarzenegger in his many guises - Arnie, Conan or even Terminator - still has a faithful following, Classical heroic names such as Samson, Caesar and Brutus have become a more popular choice.

With the rise of the supermodels, pet names such as Linda and Cindy are in vogue among felines with eyes on the catwalk. Twiggy has long been a favourite with spindly chihuahuas and calorie-conscious cats; it was only a matter of time before I came across a waif-like whippet called Kate. However, in line with the recent anti-dieting backlash, food has again become a source of inspiration.

Fatcat and Podge are no longer PC for the nutritionally challenged pet, but the surgery table in the past year has groaned under the weight of several Blobby puppies and one 14lb moggie called Pavarotti. Meanwhile, chocoholic owners can indulge in catchy, melt-in-your-mouth names such as Kitkat, Crunchie and Cadbury.

Pet-owners in the Eighties had upwardly mobile aspirations for their pets, calling them Oberon, Heathcliffe and Wel-lington. In the gritty Nineties, you are more likely to meet a Bottom, Scud or Mutant. Pet ownership has boomed as cats and dogs offer creature comforts of a different kind, resulting in a return to old-time favourites such as Pudding and Treacle. In fact, sometimes the morning's surgery list features enough Teabag, Marmalade, Honey and Muffin to grace any breakfast menu. A ginger cat witha ruthless talent for mousing became known as Cornflakes - "the cereal killer".

Some animals' names are obvious from the moment they arrive on the doorstep. The three-legged cat found abandoned in the phonebox was promptly christened Tripod. Names such as Fang, Snapper and Claws mean you don't need the old adage "Once bitten, twice shy" to make you hesitate before plunging your hand into a pet carrier. Paradoxically, the most common name for road accident cases is Lucky.

The computer boom has brought back Mac, once the collective name for all working sheepdogs. Virus, Amstrad and Apple are also prevalent. When Chippie, the German shepherd pup, failed to grow to full size due to a growth hormone deficiency, the owner promptly switched to Microchip. Best of all was Laptop, a spoilt pekinese permanently carried in his doting owners arms.

Hunting and terrier breeds have always drawn inspiration from the world of sport. Unfortunately, not all names lend themselves equally well. While Tyson and Bruno have been the traditional choice for boxer dogs, "Eubanks, heel!" somehow doesn't sound quite so catchy. The first batch of Gazza terriers are now well over four years old, and the next World Cup is certain to produce a crop of Italian puppies called Baggio.

While pet names come and go, one thing remains constant - the British love their pets. Like the front lawn and the new car, they are an unending source of pride. Cantona is one name that will be scratched off the name tag.

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