Words and Cues and Things we Say

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we refer to our companion animals. It has become main-stream to refer to our dogs as our kids. Or our pets. And we call ourselves their Mom and Dad.

It is true that we care for our animals like we would human children, and we love them just as much. I am not so sure, though, that I want to be considered my dog’s ‘Mom’. I would rather have another word that signifies guardian, playmate, benevolent leader, and, in fact, equal. I believe that humans and canines are equal, we all evolved from the same stuff. We have equal value and emotions and lives. We just look different and think different. So, I want a new word to signify all these things. I don’t know what it could be, though. And I do not like the word ‘pet’ and you won’t, usually, see me using it. Pet to me is akin to slave, or something that is a lower form of life than a human. And I disagree with that entirely. I will say, instead, companion animal.

Anyway, change of subject (though I like to have one subject per post, this will be quick) in dog training and clicker training, the general idea is that you don’t add the cue until the dog knows the action. Well, my obedience trainer disagrees. And I am tending to agree with her. Because Chase has an awful problem of offering me behaviors. This is because I lured his sit and down, and rewarded him when he offered them. Now he offers like a mad man and I don’t want him to! So I am going to lessen that with Tatum, though she does, since she is more shy, need to do some offering because it will help her confidence.

15 thoughts on “Words and Cues and Things we Say”

  1. Finally I can comment – yea!!! I really wanted to comment because I believe this is really an important topic.
    Words can be incredibly powerful and need to be used properly. I don’t generally refer to my animals as pets, they are much more commonly called the kids. To me the term ‘pet’ denotes ownership where as the term ‘kid’ denotes responsibility. Hubby and I do refer to ourselves as Mom and Dad but to me that denotes a level of responsibility beyond ownership.
    When I take on an animal it’s with great thought and consideration and I do it for life. I would no more consider giving up an animal then I would my child. By referring to them as the kids and us as Mom and Dad signals the relationship as I view it. I don’t view them as equals exactly. I view it more as I did with my daughter, I’m the responsible one. It’s up to me to make sure they are taken care of; fed, exercised, doctor care, etc. The consideration of their well being in any decision we make is equally as important as our well being, but they aren’t equals in that they don’t get a say in the decision – just like with a child.
    Nothing bothers me more then people who give their animals up for flimsy reasons. When we had to move 2 years ago, we had 3 big dogs. The first thing we said was we have to find a place that would allow the dogs, and we did. Of couse it was next to a drug dealing, murderer, but we had 3 big dogs so it was okay 🙂
    Sorry this is so long, but as you can see it’s a subject I feel very strongly about. We are given the honor being their guardians for their time on earth and it is our responsibility to take the best care possible of them.

  2. Finally I can comment – yea!!! I really wanted to comment because I believe this is really an important topic. Words can be incredibly powerful and need to be used properly. I don't generally refer to my animals as pets, they are much more commonly called the kids. To me the term 'pet' denotes ownership where as the term 'kid' denotes responsibility. Hubby and I do refer to ourselves as Mom and Dad but to me that denotes a level of responsibility beyond ownership. When I take on an animal it's with great thought and consideration and I do it for life. I would no more consider giving up an animal then I would my child. By referring to them as the kids and us as Mom and Dad signals the relationship as I view it. I don't view them as equals exactly. I view it more as I did with my daughter, I'm the responsible one. It's up to me to make sure they are taken care of; fed, exercised, doctor care, etc. The consideration of their well being in any decision we make is equally as important as our well being, but they aren't equals in that they don't get a say in the decision – just like with a child. Nothing bothers me more then people who give their animals up for flimsy reasons. When we had to move 2 years ago, we had 3 big dogs. The first thing we said was we have to find a place that would allow the dogs, and we did. Of couse it was next to a drug dealing, murderer, but we had 3 big dogs so it was okay 🙂 Sorry this is so long, but as you can see it's a subject I feel very strongly about. We are given the honor being their guardians for their time on earth and it is our responsibility to take the best care possible of them.

  3. I’ve never thought of the word pet as being demeaning until some of the controversy of late. Teacher’s pet is the one teacher likes best. And I do find canine and feline companions to be a bit cumbersome (now that I have become a cat owner). And some people have turtles, fish, snakes and lizards as …what do we call them…reptile companions?

    jan’s last blog post..A drunk, the call of nature and a playful puppy

  4. I've never thought of the word pet as being demeaning until some of the controversy of late. Teacher's pet is the one teacher likes best. And I do find canine and feline companions to be a bit cumbersome (now that I have become a cat owner). And some people have turtles, fish, snakes and lizards as …what do we call them…reptile companions? <em>jan's last blog post..<a href='http://thepoodleanddogblog.typepad.com/the_poodle…rel="nofollow">A drunk, the call of nature and a playful puppy</a></em>

  5. I've never thought of the word pet as being demeaning until some of the controversy of late. Teacher's pet is the one teacher likes best. And I do find canine and feline companions to be a bit cumbersome (now that I have become a cat owner). And some people have turtles, fish, snakes and lizards as …what do we call them…reptile companions? <em>jan's last blog post..<a href='http://thepoodleanddogblog.typepad.com/the_poodle…rel="nofollow">A drunk, the call of nature and a playful puppy</a></em>

  6. I see your “companion animal” and raise you a “baby”

    I agree with you 100%! I hate when people refer to their animals as “pets” – is is so demeaning. I am so guilty of anthropomorphism with my babies I find it hard to imagine a dog “just being a dog”

    I call my dogs “my babies” and if you dont know me, you would think i literally had 7 human children, when infact I only have one. I treat my babies like human children too…eeek

    Lora’s last blog post..Responsible Pet Blogger

  7. I see your "companion animal" and raise you a "baby" I agree with you 100%! I hate when people refer to their animals as "pets" – is is so demeaning. I am so guilty of anthropomorphism with my babies I find it hard to imagine a dog "just being a dog" I call my dogs "my babies" and if you dont know me, you would think i literally had 7 human children, when infact I only have one. I treat my babies like human children too…eeek <em>Lora's last blog post..<a href='http://pawspark.blogspot.com/2007/12/fuzzy-logic-…rel="nofollow">Responsible Pet Blogger</a></em>

  8. I see your "companion animal" and raise you a "baby" I agree with you 100%! I hate when people refer to their animals as "pets" – is is so demeaning. I am so guilty of anthropomorphism with my babies I find it hard to imagine a dog "just being a dog" I call my dogs "my babies" and if you dont know me, you would think i literally had 7 human children, when infact I only have one. I treat my babies like human children too…eeek <em>Lora's last blog post..<a href='http://pawspark.blogspot.com/2007/12/fuzzy-logic-…rel="nofollow">Responsible Pet Blogger</a></em>

  9. Hi Flo thanks for your reply, I feel strongly about it too. I could never give up my dogs. Sometimes it is better, I have found in rescue, because the dog can go to better home. But most times it is a flimsy excuse.

  10. Hi Jan, I refer to my dogs, cats, and hermit crabs as animal companions. 🙂 Fortunately I don’t have any insect companions, LOL.

  11. Hi Lora your ‘kids’ are very loved! I don’t like the word pet either, I don’t like to use it. I speak dog so well that sometimes I think I am anthropomorphizing when in fact, I’m just dealing with the dogs in their own way.

  12. Hi Flo thanks for your reply, I feel strongly about it too. I could never give up my dogs. Sometimes it is better, I have found in rescue, because the dog can go to better home. But most times it is a flimsy excuse.

  13. Hi Jan, I refer to my dogs, cats, and hermit crabs as animal companions. 🙂 Fortunately I don't have any insect companions, LOL.

  14. Hi Lora your 'kids' are very loved! I don't like the word pet either, I don't like to use it. I speak dog so well that sometimes I think I am anthropomorphizing when in fact, I'm just dealing with the dogs in their own way.

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