The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - May 3

If you hear your name called in the street or park, don't turn round straight away. It might just be someone looking for a dog. Names like Filippo, Achille, Ettore, Peppe, Camilla, Ambra, Rocco, Gaia and Ugo, once exclusively given to men and women, are taking over from traditional pet’s names like Fido and Briciola (Crumb).The fashion, already noted in the USA and the United Kingdom, is now spreading to Italy. According to the experts, this shows that in recent years the relationship between humans and their canine pets has changed. Dogs are now full members of the family, “near humans” that have to be given human names. But this is not necessarily a good thing, because dogs continue to hunt prey, keep watch and defend their owners in the living room, on the street and among crowds,exactly as they did 15,000 years ago.

You only have to glance at the names in the dog registries, which Italy’s regions are now legally required to maintain, to spot the trend. “Once, someone told me to register my boyfriend’s name for a poodle”, says an amused young officer at the Lombardy registry, which is managed, like the ones for Campania and Trento, by the Padua-based Net-Telerete Nord-est.Around 600,000 dogs are registered in all. A search of the databases, as well as those for Lazio and some provinces in Sicily, reveals some surprising results. The most popular dog’s name is still Luna, followed by Rocky, Diana, Laika and Briciola, but the trend today is to give your four-legged friend a two-legged name. There are packs of dogs called Ambra or Gaia, not to mention Ugo, Ettore, Beatrice and Paolo, as well as animals named after singers, actors, characters from film or cartoons. There are even one or two slightly unsettling Adolfs and Benitos.

The four regions examined produced almost 1,300 canine Camillas, but only a few hundred Fidos.In Campania, a region noted for its sense of humor, four dogs have been named Berlusconi, and four more are called Maradona. There are also 17 Diegos.One pet is even called Spezzacatene (Chainbreaker), which needs no explanation, and there are several Gennaros, while in Milan, there are 57 Ambrogios (named after the patron saints of Naples and Milan).