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How you refer to your own dog - question


SKL
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Does anyone you know refer to their own dog (which they've had for at least a month) as "it"?

If so, do you think this is cultural?  Are there cultures where pet dogs are "it" rather than "he" or "she"?

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I have never heard anyone refer to their dog as "it".   To me that seems mean and shows they aren't connected to their dog.   I am in the US so it could be different in other countries.

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We refer to our dog as "he"

DS has had a professor who has gone on and on about how they refer to their dog as "them" because it would be inappropriate to assign a gender to a dog without the dog's approval--I would have thought DS was kidding, but with online classes and DS sitting at the dining room table on ZOOM, I have heard it for myself.  

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5 minutes ago, Bootsie said:

We refer to our dog as "he"

DS has had a professor who has gone on and on about how they refer to their dog as "them" because it would be inappropriate to assign a gender to a dog without the dog's approval--I would have thought DS was kidding, but with online classes and DS sitting at the dining room table on ZOOM, I have heard it for myself.  

Seriously? I’m sorry, but that sounds absolutely ridiculous to me!

On the other hand, who am I to invalidate my dog’s feelings? 😉 

 

Edited by Catwoman
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5 minutes ago, Bootsie said:

We refer to our dog as "he"

DS has had a professor who has gone on and on about how they refer to their dog as "them" because it would be inappropriate to assign a gender to a dog without the dog's approval--I would have thought DS was kidding, but with online classes and DS sitting at the dining room table on ZOOM, I have heard it for myself.  

Honestly, with a non-binary kid, I've started using they/ them pronouns a lot more.  I can see doing this.  "It" on the other hand......just, no.  

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9 minutes ago, Ditto said:

I have never heard anyone refer to their dog as "it".   To me that seems mean and shows they aren't connected to their dog.   I am in the US so it could be different in other countries.

 

8 minutes ago, keirin said:

We refer to our dog mostly by her name, but when using a pronoun we use she/her.

I agree!

We have always thought of our dogs and cats as family members, so the idea of referring to any of them as “it” seems so cold and impersonal. It would make me sad to hear someone refer to their dog that way.

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6 minutes ago, Terabith said:

Honestly, with a non-binary kid, I've started using they/ them pronouns a lot more.  I can see doing this.  "It" on the other hand......just, no.  

I hadn’t thought of it that way — in your case, it would make sense, because you’re used to doing the same thing with people. It just seemed odd to me that the professor would even think to make a statement like that; it’s not something I can imagine anyone I know having the time or the inclination to ponder over. 

Obviously, it’s harmless and as long as the dog doesn’t mind, it’s all good. 😉  It just seemed like such an unusual thing to bring up in class! I can definitely see why @Bootsiewould have been surprised by it.

Edited by Catwoman
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3 minutes ago, Catwoman said:

 

I agree!

We have always thought of our dogs and cats as family members, so the idea of referring to any of them as “it” seems so cold and impersonal. It would make me sad to hear someone refer to their dog that way.

Absolutely!  Our dogs are truly loved family members.  We love them very much and it hurts my heart to even think of referring to them as "it".    However we have tons of lovable cute nicknames for them.

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1 minute ago, Catwoman said:

I hadn’t thought of it that way — in your case, it would make sense, because you’re used to doing the same thing with people. It just seemed odd to me that the professor would even think to make a statement like that; it’s not something I can imagine anyone I know having the time or the inclination to ponder over. 

Obviously, it’s harmless and as long as the dog doesn’t mind, it’s all good. 😉  It just seemed like such an unusual thing to bring up in class! I can definitely see why @Bootsiewould have been surprised by it.

Yes, in this case, it was totally unrelated to the class material/subject.  It was about the professor's personal views and came up in the class on multiple occasions.  

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I can't think of a time we referred to one of the dogs as an "it". 

I CAN think of a time (or many) when DH referred to a cat as an "it"...always in the context of "it" puking somewhere which he cannot stand. "You might want to check on the cat, it just puked on the floor" type thing. 

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2 minutes ago, Bootsie said:

Yes, in this case, it was totally unrelated to the class material/subject.  It was about the professor's personal views and came up in the class on multiple occasions.  

Wow. His dog must have felt very strongly about this. 

 

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Yes, I have heard people refer to their own dog/cat/horse as "it".

I've worked in animal rescue for decades, and every person who did that was either having the animal taken away because of neglect and/or abuse, or surrendering or giving away the animal because they obviously didn't want it and wouldn't/couldn't care for it properly.

I have never known a good, caring person who did that. No idea if that is different in other cultures.

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2 minutes ago, ktgrok said:

I can't think of a time we referred to one of the dogs as an "it". 

I CAN think of a time (or many) when DH referred to a cat as an "it"...always in the context of "it" puking somewhere which he cannot stand. "You might want to check on the cat, it just puked on the floor" type thing. 

Maybe he did that as a way of distancing himself from the cat. IT is certainly not HIS cat, so someone else needs to come clean up this mess! 😉 

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1 minute ago, Selkie said:

Yes, I have heard people refer to their own dog/cat/horse as "it".

I've worked in animal rescue for decades, and every person who did that was either having the animal taken away because of neglect and/or abuse, or surrendering or giving away the animal because they obviously didn't want it and wouldn't/couldn't care for it properly.

I have never known a good, caring person who did that. No idea if that is different in other cultures.

It’s so interesting that you’ve had that experience, because we all seem to be thinking that a loving pet owner would never refer to their animal family members as “it,” and your experience seems to validate that.

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I don't currently have a dog but I've had 8 dogs over the course of my life, the first one when I was 7 years old. I've also had 9 cats and cats # 8 and 9 are still with us. All of my/our pets are always referred to as he or she. Never it.

Edited by Lady Florida.
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Lewis goes by Lewis, Louie, Winky, and Doggo when he is good. When he is bad, "Your dog", " That dog", and "Dumb dog" are often in use while he wags his tail and looks up with his innocent, cocker spaniel eyes that say, "Moi??? Sacred Bleu! How could I possibly be the source of such angst?"

"It" is just weird!

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In the interest of full disclosure, I have probably called dogs "it" before.  (Ignorantly, apparently.)  I have never had a pet (other than the beta fish we had for a while).  Usually, it would be in the context of "What's its name?"  Then, when I hear what the dog's name is, I will use he or she appropriately.  I guess I don't want to mis-gender.

I can't imagine ever using "it" with my own pet, though.

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8 minutes ago, Junie said:

In the interest of full disclosure, I have probably called dogs "it" before.  (Ignorantly, apparently.)  I have never had a pet (other than the beta fish we had for a while).  Usually, it would be in the context of "What's its name?"  Then, when I hear what the dog's name is, I will use he or she appropriately.  I guess I don't want to mis-gender.

I can't imagine ever using "it" with my own pet, though.

That’s totally different. You’re actually being polite by not making assumptions. 🙂 

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My son had a professor who was from an African country. Someone asked her if she had dogs or cats as pets and she burst out laughing and said, “In Africa we do not have animals as pets.” You could tell she was a little amused by our Western tradition of keeping animals as pets.

I can see someone from another culture who isn’t familiar with keeping pets calling the pet “it”. 

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2 hours ago, Catwoman said:

Maybe he did that as a way of distancing himself from the cat. IT is certainly not HIS cat, so someone else needs to come clean up this mess! 😉 

I'm am 100 percent positive that is true. (cleaned up puke just an hour ago, only once today though, which is probably a record. 5 pets, two of whom like to eat too fast and puke and/or get hairballs, one that drinks too much water and once and pukes, and one with a sensitive stomach that pukes when she steals cat food or finds human food on the floor....so a lot.)

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Pronoun wise? He for the male, she for the female. Dogs don't have gender - or if they do, they certainly aren't telling us about it, so same diff!

Sometimes I screw up and say "they" for either of them, but to be fair, ever since the one kid came out as nonbinary I've had that problem. I did not expect to start messing up OTHER PEOPLE'S pronouns! I thought I'd have a bit of a learning curve with the new pronoun and then I'd be fine! Weirdest thing.

Some people in the outside world are really, really, really invested in the sex of my dogs. This would not be so frustrating except those people will, nine times out of ten, argue with me about which dog is the girl and which is the boy! Like, what's it to them? Also, unlike cats, male dogs don't hide their... parts. You can tell!

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I'd never call my own pet that.  I did have the misfortune of knowing a psychopath who referred to any neutered dog as "it" in a condescending way. 

I could see calling an unfamiliar animal "it" if you don't know the s*x.

Edited by Syllieann
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My DH refers to dogs as "he" and cats as "her" pretty much across the board. It's like his brain can't conceive that there might be girl dogs and boy cats. We had our dog for 17 years and during the majority of that time he referred to her as him. I would correct him every time but it never stuck. Or he could just be messing with me.

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3 hours ago, Bootsie said:

We refer to our dog as "he"

DS has had a professor who has gone on and on about how they refer to their dog as "them" because it would be inappropriate to assign a gender to a dog without the dog's approval--I would have thought DS was kidding, but with online classes and DS sitting at the dining room table on ZOOM, I have heard it for myself.  

My dog appears to be very satisfied with his gender of he?  Does that count?

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9 minutes ago, stephanier.1765 said:

My DH refers to dogs as "he" and cats as "her" pretty much across the board. It's like his brain can't conceive that there might be girl dogs and boy cats. We had our dog for 17 years and during the majority of that time he referred to her as him. I would correct him every time but it never stuck. Or he could just be messing with me.

My father is like that.  Despite the fact that their male cat just died, that they'd had for like 18 years, and they have a female dog, who is 8, in his mind, all dogs are male and all cats are female, because that's how the first couple models were.  

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I would love to hear from people of other cultures.

My friend who is from a distant culture can't seem to adopt he/his/him in reference to her pup.  She likes the pup, plays with the pup, feeds the pup, but invariably calls the pup "it."  I keep correcting her because it feels so wrong to me.  She had pet dogs as a kid too, so all I can figure is that her culture uses "it" for pets.  ??

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7 minutes ago, SKL said:

I would love to hear from people of other cultures.

My friend who is from a distant culture can't seem to adopt he/his/him in reference to her pup.  She likes the pup, plays with the pup, feeds the pup, but invariably calls the pup "it."  I keep correcting her because it feels so wrong to me.  She had pet dogs as a kid too, so all I can figure is that her culture uses "it" for pets.  ??

Maybe you should ask her. You might also tell her that the norm here is to use “he” or “she,” rather than “it.” 

You would be doing her a favor. You can see how people reacted to this thread. I would hate to see your nice friend viewed negatively, when in actuality she doesn’t realize people might take her use of “it” the wrong way.

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9 minutes ago, SKL said:

My friend who is from a distant culture can't seem to adopt he/his/him in reference to her pup.  She likes the pup, plays with the pup, feeds the pup, but invariably calls the pup "it."  I keep correcting her because it feels so wrong to me.  She had pet dogs as a kid too, so all I can figure is that her culture uses "it" for pets.  ??

Not sure what a distant culture is, but I am not an animal person at all, and can totally imagine calling the dog 'it'. I remember calling the baby 'it' for a while too lol (we didn't find out in advance, so I generally said 'it' during pregnancy). I don't use 'it' as 'worthless' or 'non-animate', more that the specific sex hasn't fully lodged in my brain. We had a dog for a bit (as in, my boyfriend had a dog), and I did struggle to remember that she was female - I just thought 'dog'. Even now it seems weird to me to use female pronouns for an animal. She/her, he/him - they are words for people. 

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2 hours ago, stephanier.1765 said:

My DH refers to dogs as "he" and cats as "her" pretty much across the board. It's like his brain can't conceive that there might be girl dogs and boy cats. We had our dog for 17 years and during the majority of that time he referred to her as him. I would correct him every time but it never stuck. Or he could just be messing with me.

That's so funny, because my dh does the same thing. When we had a female dog, we were constantly correcting him. Now that we have a male, it isn't so much a problem, lol.

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I refer to the dog as he/him.  I address the dog as Darling Sweet Baby Doggo.  Obviously.

I don't think I've heard anyone refer to a dog as an "it" but my son watches these Supernanny-type shows that involve dog trainers being brought in to help families cope with their unmanageable dogs, and according to him sometimes the owners on these show refer to their dogs as "it."

 

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12 minutes ago, Catwoman said:

Maybe you should ask her. You might also tell her that the norm here is to use “he” or “she,” rather than “it.” 

You would be doing her a favor. You can see how people reacted to this thread. I would hate to see your nice friend viewed negatively, when in actuality she doesn’t realize people might take her use of “it” the wrong way.

Oh, I've asked her about the culture, and I've told her many times about how it's perceived here.  I also told her to ask her other friends if they ever call their pets "it."

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5 hours ago, Terabith said:

Honestly, with a non-binary kid, I've started using they/ them pronouns a lot more.  I can see doing this.  "It" on the other hand......just, no.  

My DH calls most people they or them... always has... because he says it's more efficient than remembering he or she! 

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We don’t use it, but my in-laws have this really strange habit of referring to their female dog as both he and she. Like, sometimes they use he and sometimes she. I have always found it to be extremely weird.

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