Downton Abbey fans are on high alert that something drastic might be about to happen to the loyal labrador of the house, ‘Isis’. On this week’s episode she was pointed out as looking ‘terribly listless’, with Lord Grantham subsequently agreeing to have the vet check her out.
Surely this can’t have anything to do with her name? After all, it would be slightly unfair for poor old Isis to suffer simply because of a misfortune of nomenclature. What has she ever done to deserve an untimely death, save follow Lord Grantham devotedly around Downton?
Isis’s predecessor was, after all, named Pharoah, so she continues the pyramidic scheme. If the Downton team (or, perhaps, Julian Fellowes, who must surely have had some say in the dog’s naming process) had christened the previous dog Taleban, then I might argue differently. But they didn’t. And, lest anyone forget, this is 1924. Isis, as far as anyone living at Downton is concerned, is still either Oxford’s river or an Egyptian goddess. There was no ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria, at least not under the Isis acronym, back then. Meanwhile, in 2014 there are even more contenders for the name, as our Barometer has pointed out, including a Young Offenders’ Institution in Thamesmead and a car dealership in Middlesex with the name ‘Isis’.
In any case, are the ‘bloodthirsty Islamists’ even called Isis anymore? Dot Wordsworth pointed out in September that despite Isis working very well as a name, they have quickly progressed onto Islamic State or IS (with or without the ‘the’, depending on who you’re talking to).
So what’s the problem with the dog being called Isis? ‘When acronyms collide the most prominent often drives others to extinction’, Dot said in June. Yes, fair enough. She went on to give the example of ‘the popular slimmers’ biscuits called Aids [that] rapidly disappeared after the rise of the acronym for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome’.
I can understand why you might not want your weigh-loss biscuits named after Aids. But seeing as Isis aren’t even called Isis anymore, I don’t see why Isis can’t live out her life as Isis.