More than 1,000 years after being given a bad name, about 500 people from Shaanxi province have decided it's time to stop being called Mr or Mrs Dog and have applied to change their family name. Last September, a Public Security Bureau branch in the province's Shangzhou district received 544 name-change applications from people surnamed Gou, which is pronounced the same way as 'dog' even though the character is written differently. The story goes that an emperor from the Jin dynasty, late in the first millennium, ordered the villagers to change their surname from Jing to Gou during a visit to the region. Jing, which means respect, was not a name that the emperor could call another person as it would imply that he was looking up to them. The emperor decided the villagers should be called Gou as that character was the equivalent of removing the right side of the Chinese character for jing. The Gou family lived with the name for more than 1,000 years. They were often made fun of and children often despised their own family name. However, some villagers in Shangzhou found out that other Gous in Henan province had reverted to their ancestors' original name. Word of the name change was passed around the village, which held a meeting with male descendents from five generations. They decided to jointly apply to the local Public Security Bureau to change their family name. Of the 544 applications received in September, the local police branch has already approved 312, according to Xinhua. During their investigation, the police found that there were about 500 people surnamed Gou in the village. It is also home to an ancestral temple called Jing Zong Tang, which uses the same character claimed by the Gous as their ancestors' family name.