I have always avoided using the label “dog owner.” It just sounds so cold. My dogs, Spot and Dolly, are not mere possessions. Beloved family members best describes their role in my life.
That being said, I do not see them as my “children.” Dolly serves as more of a soul sister, while the relationship I have with Spot resembles the one I have with my nephew, Jacob.
I adopted the label “pet parent,” though, when I began writing for Dogster. Commonly used by other writers and readers in this community, it worked well enough in getting my point across. Also, my love of alliteration may have factored into the choice.
Turns out, “pet parent” bothers some as much as “dog owner” does me. Reader Sandra King left the following comment on my “5 Reasons My Best Friends Are Dog People” story: “Except for ‘pet parent’ (really don’t like that word), spot on!” I have heard similar rumblings on Facebook as well.
Are King and those who feel the same in the minority on this matter? Or the majority? According to a survey conducted by Kelton Research last year, 54 percent of those with dogs in the family opt for “pet parent” over “pet owner,” and that “58 percent of American dog owners are comfortable calling themselves nicknames such as ‘Mommy’ or ‘Daddy’ when referencing their dogs.”
One survey does not speak for us all, and neither will one story, but I would like this one to be a conversation starter on the topic. What do you call yourself, readers? Dog owner? Pet parent? Human companion? Dogster assistant editor Liz Acosta says San Franciscans prefer the label “dog guardian,” so also note where you call home.
Please share the labels you use for your dogs, as well. Labels such as “fur babbies” and “granddogs” seem to irritate some. I simply say “my dogs” and think nothing of it, just as I would when referring to “my mom,” “my dad,” or “my nephew.”
Let’s talk, readers, in the comments below.