I saw this article earlier this week on yahoo.com and I thought I’d post it on here. Melissa and I consider Peanut and Cassie to be our furbabies (I guess seeing that Peanut is now 4 years old and Cassie is over 1 they should start being called furkids) but I don’t think we’ve ever gotten as ridiculous as some of the terms that can be read in the article below. I mean, I feel like Peanut is the spitting image of me, brown eyes, brown hair…ok, so maybe not completely…but I don’t think we’ve ever gotten as far as some of the people that this article is talking about.
Are You Raising a Furkid?
- Posted by: Mark Peters
- on October 31, 2009 at 8:00 am
Confusing parenthood and pet ownership: The words of the dog world.
Kids chase fewer squirrels and postal workers than dogs, but the way we pamper our poodles and great danes and mutts has a lot in common with how we treat our toddlers and teens.
Though I try not to over-kid-ify my canine, the bounds of sane dog owner behavior are blurry. I frequently arrange playdates for my rat terrier Monkey, and, I hate to admit, once shoved him into a Dracula costume and took him to a dog party, which included dog cake, dog champagne, and a doggie masseuse (who terrified my poochâ€”I think Monkey considered her a type of vet). So far, Iâ€™ve resisted the call of dogaâ€”dog yogaâ€”but who knows what the future will bring?
The pet-as-child mindset is hard to avoid: confusing pet ownership and parenthood is a pervasive aspect of the pet world thatâ€™s reflected in money spent, canine behavioral therapists hired, and terms coined, such as â€œbark mitzvah,â€ â€œpuppy leave,â€ and â€œfurkid.â€ These are just a few lexical symptoms of the weird and intense relationship we have with our dogs.
(FYI: Some of these terms apply to cats too, but since felines have a Darth Vader-like influence on my allergy-prone respiratory system, I keep my distance. I suspect cat people have been traveling a parallel road).
One way the child-ification of dogs can be seen is the importation of parenting lingo like â€œplaydateâ€ and â€œpotty training,â€ which are often and casually used. In other cases, new words are coined. Paul McFedriesâ€™ The Word Spy records several parent-y pet terms, such as â€œlatchkey dogâ€ (a dog left unmonitored in the streets or at home alone), â€œpupperwareâ€ (dog toys, clothes, and other paraphernalia sold at tupperware-like parties), and â€œpuppy leaveâ€ (much like baby leave, but with a barkier infant).
Plenty of others turn up on Grant Barrettâ€™s Double Tongued Dictionary, such as â€œpawsengerâ€ (a dog on a plane), â€œpawspiceâ€ (canine hospice), and â€œpuppy pawty,â€ which is similar to a â€œbark mitzvahâ€â€”a dog celebration observed with varying degrees of seriousness, sometimes at the dogâ€™s thirteenth year.
A lot of dog lingo is euphemistic yet not especially goofy. Playful puppy biting is â€œnipping,â€ the cage used to train puppies is a â€œcrate,â€ and peeing from excitement is â€œsprinkling.â€ Other euphemisms are much sillier. While I sympathize with pitbull owners who want to change the image of their dogs, I donâ€™t know if â€œpetbullâ€ is going to fool anyone. Similarly, if â€œmuttâ€ is hurting your dogâ€™s self-esteem, the terms â€œcanine cocktail,â€ â€œparty pup,â€ and â€œunbreedâ€ are available, though not recommended, at least by me. Youâ€™d think â€œmuttâ€ would have been elevated forever after President Obama said, in regards to needing a hypoallergenic dog breed,Â â€œâ€¦our preference would be to get a shelter dog, but obviously a lot of shelter dogs are mutts, like me.â€
The king of canine euphemismsâ€”as well as the most clear example of pet/kid confusionâ€”has to be the word â€œfurkid,â€ which appeals to folks who donâ€™t like the word â€œpet,â€ and think â€œcompanion animalâ€ doesnâ€™t go far enough. Before starting this article, I hoped that â€œfurkidâ€ was a linguistic urban myth, but many use this word unselfconsciously and frequently. Recent tweets include mentions of â€œMy baby furkid Totoâ€ and â€œthe joys of furkid parenthood,â€ as well as the admonition that there â€œâ€¦should be no fighting in front of the furkid.â€ There are also related terms such as â€œfurbabyâ€ and â€œfurparent,â€ not to mention â€œhumomâ€ (a human mom with pets).
Why such forced, artificial, barf-worthy language? Well, for many pet owners, no amount of cutesiness is too much. The cuteness-craving impulse animating â€œpurpâ€ (a word that alters â€œpupâ€ much as â€œlurveâ€ modifies â€œloveâ€) probably has something to do with the existence of â€œfurkidâ€ too.
But no matter how goofy or pretentious some of these terms seem, theyâ€™re inspired by a love for canines. Maybe that love gets a little out of handâ€”no dog really wants to be an Ewok for Halloween, no matter how perfect he looksâ€”but â€œMust Love Dogsâ€ is a way of life as well as a movie for many of us.
Odd words are just a harmless byproduct.
I mean, we’ve dressed them both up for Halloween, taken them for Santa pictures at Christmas, given them birthday presents and eaten their birthday cakes…so, I guess we’re furparents or whatever, but we’re not as crazy as other people and I think we’re both happy about that…