Our pets. They are loving, cuddly and adorable at all times, unless you have a pet snake, in which case they are not so cuddly. More scaly and unpleasant, actually.
Nevertheless, we love our pets. They are many people’s favorite thing to talk about. Some people even carry them in their purses next to their lipstick, wadded up Kleenex, and emergency tampons. Now that’s true love.
Yes, they experience our undying love and compassion. We would stop at nothing to make them happy.
Then why are we making them the victims of our harsh language and mistreatment?
According to a new study in the Journal of Animal Ethics (Great magazine. No one does a Sudoku like JoAE!), using terms such as critters, beasts, or pets to describe your pet can affect the pet.
From The Daily Mail:
“Researchers from the Oxford Center for Animal Ethics, along with the University of Illinois and Penn State University, suggest that using these words to describe animals degrades the relationship that exists between humans and these… friends. (Is that term allowed? We just don’t know anymore!). Instead of referring to animals as “wild” and “vermin,” which dates back to times when animals were treated unkindly, we should be cultivating a language that shows mutually respectful relationships between humans and the animals that live among us.”
I’m sure most people don’t have a problem with the terms critters and beasts because this is not the 1800’s. No one calls their domesticated Canadian hairless cats “beasts.” (I call them ugly, but that’s another story.)
But does calling our pets “pets” really hurt the relationship like they say?
Firstly, I don’t think it matters what you call your pet. If I say “toothbrush” just the right way, my dog comes running. Now, her name is not toothbrush, nor have I ever called her toothbrush. It seems that, no matter what I say, she concludes I am calling her, therefore, I don’t think calling her vermin would insult her too greatly, especially if I scratched her belly afterwards.
In fact, pets couldn’t care less what I call them. I have called my cat “big fat cat” for a while. This name comes from the fact that he is a cat who weighs roughly the same as a 2010 Subaru Outback. I make it very obvious I do not care for said cat, as he only wants attention from me at the most inopportune times, such as when I am using my laptop or using the bathroom.
Despite this, he still DOES want attention from me. Occasionally, when no one is looking (I don’t want to ruin my rep as a dog person), I actually DO give him attention.
Clearly, it does not matter to the animal what you call it.
That leaves the question: does calling our pets “pets” make us respect our pets less?
Let me answer it this way.
One day, I was eating chips and salsa in my living room. My dog was eagerly at my heels because if I were to leave my dog’s sight for more than thirty seconds, she would probably die of loneliness. As I sat down with the chips and salsa, I spilled a tiny drop on the floor.
This drop fell and, to this day I still don’t understand how this happened, it went under the edge of the couch.
As I got up to retrieve a paper towel, lest my wife find the drop of salsa and use as an excuse to murder me, my dog jumped to ground. She shoved her tiny nose under the edge of the couch and, with more effort than I have ever seen her put into anything, tried to lick that tiny drop up.
My point is this: could calling my dog a pet really make me respect her less? No. She licks salsa off the floor from underneath the couch.
And why should we respect our pets? Pets are gigantic mooches. We feed them and take them on walks and make sure their so-called “vaccines” are up to date, and what do they give us? Sure, they let us pet them and everything, which is nice. They are usually very warm and soft, and that is very pleasant, but that’s as much for them as it is for us.
So animals, if you really want respect, if you want us to stop calling you “vermin,” the ball is in your court. Get a job, pay rent and we’ll treat you like a human.
Until then, just keep licking up the floor salsa. It keeps me from having to clean it up myself.
Dear PETA Hi. I assume if you are reading this, you have finished my article and are looking for contact information so you can hunt me down and kill me for treating non-human animals inhumanly. I would like you to know, I do like my pets. This was tongue in cheek. I was not serious about any of my degradation to animals. Except for the bit about hairless cats. They make me want to puke. Love, Nathan