Click here to learn more.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been squeamish about using the word “owner” to describe a person’s relationship to their pet. Ownership of a living, breathing creature with whom we share a rich and meaningful relationship simply doesn’t jibe with my sense of how the English language should be used. Besides, you could argue that we don’t really own our pets, because in reality, our pets own us!
I feel strongly about this, so much so that I have avoided using “owner” in all of my writings about medical advocacy for pets (so far, that’s two books and numerous articles). This has caused considerable angst for many an editor, and trust me, coming up with creative solutions has not been easy!
The term “guardian” sounds rather stodgy, and I suspect it was created eons ago in order to describe legal responsibilities more than emotional attachments. “Pet parent,” “Mom” and “Dad” are terms commonly used by people who share my distaste for “ownership.” Honestly, I don’t care much for this terminology either. I am not the “parent” of my pets and would rather use that term to describe my relationship with my own children. I certainly don’t fault those who refer to their pets as their children. It just doesn’t happen to work for me.
The problem is, I’ve yet to come up with a replacement word or phrase for “owner” that, for me, truly captures the relationship of people to the pets they love so dearly. For now, the descriptive word I favor is “caregiver,” as it implies a commitment to caring for the physical and emotional well-being of an animal. The meaning of caregiving is easily understood and harbors no religious, legal or moral implications — at least none that I am aware of. “Caregiver” respectfully speaks to the human commitment that is part and parcel of the human-animal bond.
Do you agree or disagree with my sentiments? How do you refer to yourself in relationship to your pets?
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
Lifetime has tapped the Parks and
Recreation star to provide Tardar Sauce’s
voice for an upcoming Christmas movie.
A Good Samaritan found Gidget, a Jack
Russell Terrier from Philadelphia,
wandering near Portland, Oregon.
Animal Planet's Victoria Stilwell strongly
opposes breed bans — they don't stop
dog bites and lead to…
With 40,000 animals poached each year
for the ivory trade, it might not be long
before elephants disappear…
These pets can't wait for the season's
cool weather, beautiful autumn foliage
and (of course) plentiful leaf piles.
When Rafael Mantesso and his wife split,
he was left with an empty house and his
beautiful Bull Terrier, Jimmy Choo.
We asked the pros what it takes to get a
cat recognized as an official breed in the
United States, Canada and the U.K.
When she's not curled in your lap, the affectionate and elegant Birman will gladly play fetch or chase a ball.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.