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Spokesdog's Canine Couch

A journey about dogs and their people by Diane Rich

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Sticks and Stones

May 8th, 2011 at Sun, 8th, 2011 at 9:00 am by Diane Rich

Canine American

I recently found an article that covered a report in the Journal of Animal Ethics stating that what we call our dog is totally related to how that dog is treated. Maybe we need to label dogs as Canine American or Canine fill in your country.

By law, we “own” our dog but to be politically correct in these overly sensitive times to words they are now considered by most dog lovers as our “companions” or “furry friends.” We are now called their “guardians” by some people. Calling them pets may even be insulting to some in our current culture. We are “pet parents.” What’s wrong with that?

Certainly there more pet homes than ever before and dogs are considered family by most humans. I am one of those that consider my dog family.

Dogs get the royal treatment in many situations. Private training, day care, dog walkers, dog spas and one airline specifically devoted to pet transport. People are learning more about pet nutrition and Vet care and many won’t travel without their pets. I see people who are more informed about their dog’s needs than ever before in my practice. Love it.

Some authors explain in the foreword of their dog book they use a specific gender and try to opt out of using “it” to describe the dog and apologize in advance if they offend anyone.

Why with all the warm and fuzzy politically correct doggie terms used these days do I and many of my colleagues see more and more aggressive, neurotic dogs and dogs with every behavioral problem imaginable in our respective private practices. I do get to help educate many dogs and their people without major issues, but in 25 years as a trainer why are there more problems than one or two decades ago.

Anthropomorphizing pets which is on the rise is part of the equation of many of the behavioral issues dogs present these days. I also observe dogs adopted or purchased to fill the needs of the human and sometimes see the needs of the dog swept under the rug.

I am not sure if being more sensitive to what we call a dog is making for a better dog. Do dogs care what we call them? If you are offering a tasty tidbit or playing a favorite game of Frisbee or fetch, or grabbing the leash for your daily walk with your excited pooch bouncing around at your heels anticipating the adventure my guess is the dog doesn’t care what name it is called. Oops, just called the dog “it.” No insult intended.

For humans, being the recipient of a racial slur or name calling can, especially among impressionable children in some cases be too much to bear. Children can be incredibly cruel especially in packs. Cruelty by kids to other kids in school or playgrounds has been ongoing, even during what seemed like the gentler days of “Leave it to Beaver” or “Lassie.”

Name calling and bashing others is part of our culture. Liberal TV/radio hosts and guests name call conservatives and conservative TV/radio hosts and guests bash liberals. Both sides eviscerate every little word and action of the other side. Name calling is just part of being a member of the human population, unfortunately. The bashing certainly hurts and it takes some internal fortitude to not give the name or the verbal perpetrator power.

Back to dogs. My take on all of this. If a dog’s needs are met which means good, fresh food and water daily, exercise daily, life outside the home, family time in the home, love, mental stimulation and some training and playtime, I am not too taken a back with terms.

Animal cruelty which certainly includes beating, isolating dogs, chaining a dog to an object outdoors is abuse to me. Commercial puppy mills, a multi million dollar business, unacceptable. Pet stores selling the flavor of the month, unacceptable. People crating or isolating dogs all day, unacceptable and the list can go on. Animal shelters rehome and euthanize millions of dogs every year so not sure calling a dog a companion is helping the level of human commitment to their “companion.”

Chase is my dog, I own him, he is my pet, I love him, he is my sweet potato, and yes I feel like I am a dogmom. He doesn’t care what I call him.
cDianeRich 2011

Diane Rich Dog Trainng, LLC

I have been training dogs and their people for over 25 years. I work with pups from 7 weeks old to senior plus dogs and offer basic obedience to advanced off leash training both privately and group classes. Other services include behavior consultations to help both ends of the leash with everything from aggression, puppy/dog manners and public manners to separation anxiety. As a "real world" dog trainer, I take training out of the classroom or home when both the pet and family are ready, and take training to the street. I also offer pet therapy training classes preparing both the handler and dog for their therapy test and future service as a therapy team. I also coordinate several pet therapy programs in the Seattle area. My complete bio, description of services, class dates and on line class registration is listed on my website at

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