Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pet Peeves

The editors of the Journal of Animal Ethics would like us to stop referring to pets as pets, beasts or critters.  What does this mean for crossword cluing?

I've always loved the word CRITTER, and its use in puzzle cluing has been with the best intentions.  Solvers don't seem to mind -- I don't recall anyone objecting to KOALA clued as "Cuddly-looking critter."  "Critter" is a term of endearment.

The authors ask that, instead of "pet" and "owner," we should say:  "companion animal" and "human carer."  As a "human carer" to cats and dogs for most of my life, this is a case where actions speak louder than words.  Let's treat our animals with compassion and respect . . . period.

Quincy the cat doesn't seem to mind being called a critter or a pet.  When I yell at him for destroying the furniture with his fully-clawed paws, am I hurting his self-esteem?  Like most members of my "human" family, he doesn't seem to care what I think.  (He's seen the novelty sign at the local pet store:   Dogs have owners and cats have staff.)

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All this pet talk has kindled some nostalgia about my favorite dogs.  Remember Riley, the therapy/rescue dog who worked at Ground Zero during the months after 9/11?  What a great dog.  Riley captured the hearts of the women and men he worked with.


Gareth Bain said...

Argh!! Want to stab these anthropomorphists!!

Joanne said...

Wow that is just so silly. Somehow, I don't think that just changing what we call pets or owners is instantly going to make people who mistreat animals act any differently. And for those of us who use these descriptors as terms of endearment...I say leave us be!