"I refuse to stop calling my dog my fur baby" | TeamDogs

"I refuse to stop calling my dog my fur baby"

Mums getting offended by this term should mind their own business

Caroline Abbott

Posted 59d ago

(Image: Ling Jin/Getty)

by Caroline Abbott

It seems that people can get upset, annoyed and offended by literally anything these days – there’s even a cohort of mums who are urging dog owners to stop calling their pets “fur babies”.

They gather in internet forums like Mumsnet and Reddit and talk about how awful and “cringey” it is that dog owners use this term.

“I hate that phrase,” says a user called unicornparty. “It creeps me right out. They are animals.”

They say that although they love their dogs, they are not as important as children, and it is “weird” to compare them. They say people who rely on their dogs for love and companionship are “sad, lonely and crazy”.

“This ridiculous ‘fur baby’ nonsense is spouted by people who are trying to use animals to fill an emotional need or gap in their lives,” says AgeLikeWine. “It’s not healthy for either the owner or the animal.”

Some owners willingly admit that their dogs are “child substitutes” – either because they can’t have, or don’t want, children.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong at all with thinking of a dog in this way, and spoiling them as long as we’re not humanising them. There are probably just as many parents who use children to attempt to improve a rocky relationship or give their lives some extra meaning. Many people who have children and dogs use “fur baby” to differentiate between them.

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Dogs are similar to children in many ways. They depend on us for food, shelter, protection from harm, care when they are sick, exercise and guidance on how to behave around other people so that they are accepted. In fact, dogs usually behave better in public places such as cafés than children do. They need toys and haircuts. They give us a sense of purpose and in return for our care they give us love, affection and companionship – whether or not people get this from other people as well is irrelevant.

Many of the forum mums claim it’s disgusting that dogs sleep in their owner’s bed, lick their owner’s face or get dressed up in clothing. Many dog owners would agree, and each one has different boundaries for their pet. But each to their own; why can’t we live and let live?

The mums seem to think that drawing any comparisons between owning a dog and raising a baby is ridiculous because babies are a much greater responsibility. There are some parents who find looking after a dog harder work than looking after a baby, but on the whole, most people probably agree. That’s one reason why lots of people would rather have a dog than a baby. Dogs don’t live as long, don’t cost as much and you can leave them home alone for short periods if needed.

“It’s different,” says imsurrybutihad2. “You don’t have to arrange 24/7 care for your dog. Nobody quits their job because they got a dog and are going to be a stay at home furbabydaddy. Nobody gets a dog at 20 and drops out of college to care for it. I don’t know anyone who would die, without hesitation, for their dog.”

Actually, I bet most TeamDogs readers know somebody who has made a significant sacrifice for their beloved dog – and there are often stories in the news about dog owners making the ultimate sacrifice while attempting to rescue their dog from a dangerous situation such as a rip tide at sea.

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“There’s a difference between my family and my animal,” says one Reddit user going by the name SouthernAirline6. “He’s not family, he’s just a pet. Pets come and go.” Most dog owners consider their pet to be part of their family, and I feel sorry for any dog that isn’t treated this way.

When we call our dog our baby, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re thinking of them like furry humans. Some people call their daughters “princess” but it doesn’t mean they believe they’re actual royalty. It’s just a term of affection – and they are our dependents, even if they’re not as dependent on us as children.

SouthernAirline6 argues that animals are lesser than humans because “they do not have the capacity for sentient thought or speech or communication”. This is a very ignorant opinion.

The Government has introduced a Bill to formally recognise animals as sentient beings in domestic law. Furthermore, it could be argued that dogs are better at communication than we are – we expect them to understand human speech such as “sit”, “stay”, “come” and various other instructions, but we don’t understand their barks nearly as well.

As stated in Baz Luhrmann’s song Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen): “The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.” We shouldn't worry so much about what other people are doing, if it doesn't really affect us. Everyone has different tastes and abilities and if you’re triggered by somebody else calling their dog a “fur baby”, it probably says more about you than them. As long as a dog isn’t being harmed, it’s nobody else’s business but the owner’s how they refer to it.

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