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.)
* * * * *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.