The 10 Most Popular Game of Thrones-Related Pet Names

iStock.com/treasuredragon
iStock.com/treasuredragon

When Game of Thrones made its original premiere on HBO back in April 2011, it's probably safe to say that no one had any idea just how big the series would become—and that its impact would extend well beyond the world of the small screen. In 2018, for example, an entomologist named three newly discovered beetle species after the epic series' dragons. And the propensity for naming living things after Westerosians has extended to both animal and humankind (Khaleesi, Arya, Tyrion, Brienne, Sansa, Bran, Sandor, and Theon have all gotten a boost in baby name popularity over the past several years).

Banfield Pet Hospital, the largest general veterinary practice in the U.S., analyzed its database of 2018 medical records to find out which Game of Thrones-inspired names are the most popular among their pet patients. While there is some overlap with the baby names list, naming your cat or dog after one of the Stark kids' direwolves seems to be the most popular way to go.

While Arya didn't come out on top, the name did show a lot of movement in the past year, with 21 percent more dogs and 13 percent more cats sharing a name with Ned and Catelyn Stark's youngest daughter.

But the real star of 2018—statistically-speaking, at least—was Daenerys's beloved dragon Drogon. Though he didn't make the cut for the top 10 names, the number of puppers bearing his fierce moniker rose by a whopping 64 percent between 2017 and 2018. As for the top 10? Here they are:

  1. Lady
  1. Ghost
  1. Snow
  1. Summer
  1. Arya
  1. Khaleesi
  1. Winter
  1. Nymeria
  1. Sansa
  1. Drogo

100 Dachshunds Competed in Cincinnati’s Annual ‘Running of the Wieners’

NORRIE3699/iStock via Getty Images
NORRIE3699/iStock via Getty Images

Every year, to kick off Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, 100 dachshunds compete in heats to decide who the fastest dachshund in the Midwest is. This year marks the 43rd annual Oktoberfest—one of the biggest Oktoberfest celebrations outside of Germany (more than 500,000 people attend the three-day event).

On the afternoon of Thursday, September 19, 100 wiener dogs (and their owners and handlers) gathered in downtown Cincinnati for the 2019 "Running of the Wieners." The dogs, dressed in hot dog costumes, ran 10 heats, which lasted 75 feet or five seconds each. The winner of each heat advanced to the final round, where the top three finishers were decided.

Maple, a long-haired, one-year-old dachshund, ran his way into first place—and into our hearts.

Maple’s owner, Jake Sander, told WCPO that Maple is one of five dachshunds in the family, and that he learned to run fast by chasing his brother around. Leo and Bucky, two other doxies, placed second and third, respectively.

Besides the Running of the Wieners, Zinzinnati also hosts the World’s Largest Chicken Dance. However, the wiener dogs are more fun to watch.

Photographer Captures Polka-Dotted Zebra Foal in Kenya

Frank Liu
Frank Liu

Zebras are known for their eye-catching patterns, but this polka-dotted foal recently photographed in Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve really stands out from the herd. As National Geographic reports, the zebra baby likely has pseudomelanism, a rare pigment condition that's been observed in the wild just a handful of times.

Nature photographer Frank Liu saw the zebra foal while looking for rhinos in the savannah wilderness preserve. After initially confusing the specimen for a different type of animal, he realized upon closer inspection that it was actually a plains zebra born with spots instead of stripes. The newborn foal was named Tira after the Maasai guide Antony Tira who first pointed him out.

Zebra foal with spots walking with mother.
Frank Liu

Zebra foal with spots.
Frank Liu

A typical zebra pattern is the result of pigment cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for the black base coat, and melanin, which gives the animal its white stripes. (So if you've ever wondered if zebras are white with black stripes or black with white stripes, the answer is the latter). In Tira and other zebras with pseudomelanism, the melanocytes are fully expressed, but a genetic mutation causes the melanin to appear as dots rather than unbroken stripes.


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Though rare, this isn't the only time a zebra with pseudomelanism has been documented in nature. Pseudomelanistic zebras have also been spotted in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, but Liu believes this could be the first time one was found in the Masai Mara preserve.

Zebra stripes aren't just for decoration. The distinct pattern may act as camouflage, bug repellant, and a built-in temperature regulation system. Without these evolutionary benefits, Tira has a lower chance of making it to adulthood: Pseudomelanistic zebra adults are rarely observed for this reason. But as Liu's photographs show, the foal has the protection and acceptance of his herd on his side.

[h/t National Geographic]

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