Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The dogs in your life: companions, pets, fur kids, or....

Dachunds in clothes

How do you talk about the canine companions in your life? Are they your fur-kids?
Do you dress them up -- for fun or fashion or Halloween?

Border Collie play Frisbee

Are your dogs playmates, friends who hang out and take part in activities that you both enjoy?
Do you enter events together? Do you enjoy a challenge - or a performance?

Golden Retriever working Service Dog

Is your dog your work partner? Do they accommodate your mobility, helping you negotiate the environment? Do they help you to function in the world?

Labrador on Couch

Or is your dog a hangout partner, a couch potato who also walks with you, lays by your feet - or by your side - and goes with you whenever/wherever possible?

Friend, surrogate child, playmate; dogs fill different niches in people's lives.

I understand that there are differences in how we think about the canines in our lives. For example on slightly different ends of the spectrum we have at one end people who think of dogs as belongings; things. On the other end, people who believe that they care as deeply about the dogs who live with them as other people care about their children. I would have to call myself a moderate on that scale; not on either end.

I have noticed though, that like so many areas where people find themselves polar opposites in viewpoints, there isn't a lot of tolerance for opposite views. One of the other sites related to dogs that I check in on has had a few little ugly exchanges the last few days. One person called their dog  "pet" which offended one of the people who calls the dog in their life a "furchild."  Rather than focusing on the fact that all participants obviously care for the canines in their lives - physically and emotionally - little word fights broke out over being not sensitive enough or too sensitive.

There are some things that I think those of us, readers and writers, involved with this blog share. We care about canines; our own and more generally about the welfare of dogs. In our own ways we find ways to help dogs when they need help and we're able. Maybe we don't talk about them the same way. Maybe some of us think of them as companions, others as pets, others as furry, four legged children. What I like about this space though is that people are respectful of each other when contributing.
Thank you for that!
And thank you for taking the time to contribute to this space, as readers and sometimes as writers.

If you would like to share how you think about the canines in your life I'd like to hear from you. I think our differences is part of what makes the world a more interesting place.

Lil's sister Ruby, future field trial Labrador


  1. Hi Christy: I love my dogs deeply and work hard to care for them and ensure their high quality of life. They are my beloved pets and companions. Not ever having wanted to be a parent, calling them children or otherwise describing us in kinship terms is not for me. I am not always the most tolerant about these things and am baffled by the growing trend to discuss pets in these terms. Beside having a visceral response, I think some of our tendency to use these terms can be part of anthropomorphizing dogs at their expense when they are penalized for doggy behavior we would like to be more similar to that of humans. That said, I respect anyone who takes excellent care of their dogs, regardless what they call them.

    I was at my vet today while waiting to get in with my dog and hearing him talk to the owner of a 150 lb newfie. The dog had open sores covering about 12 by 12 inches resulting from untreated hot spots. My vet was explaining that flies were laying their eggs in the sores. The dog ratted up fur all over his body becausecof a lack of grooming. He was very tall and the largest dog I have ever seen.

    After her appt the owner waited with me and regaled me with tales of what an amazing, loving, responsive and easy dog he is. What can you say to someone so neglectful of such a loving, beautiful dog?

    I am not a perfect pet owner, for various reasons, I cut corners and take risks like we all do. But I will never forget that dog's unecessary suffering at the hands of such an irresponsible owner.



  2. Wow Kathy,

    what a depressing vet visit!

    I agree - I'm less interested in how people describe their relationship with the canines in their lives and more interested in how they care for them.

    Open sores...how can any thinking person tell herself that this is acceptable? I just hope that having taken the dog to the vet, the vet will have educated her to the point where the care improves. I certainly hope for the dog's sake that the care improves!