Owner? Guardian? Other? Dear Labby advises

Dear Labby,

How do I refer to myself in relation to my dog? I usually say I’m Toto’s owner, but is that un-PC in this day and age?

Signed:

Dog Owner Guilty For Allowing Terminology to Hastily Explain Relationship

Ah, you pose an interesting and potentially controversial question, D.O.G.F.A.T.H.E.R.

“Guardian” is the most politically correct, implying that one’s pet is a living, breathing individual who requires care and protection. Outside of San Francisco, however, it sort of makes people want to beat you up when they hear it. If you can stand the quizzical looks and derisive “you’re what?“s, go for it.

“Owner” is fine by me, but many folks do find it offensive. They feel it relegates the animal to the status of mere property without recognizing that the dog has rights, thoughts, and feelings of his own. (See above paragraph for defense of “guardian.”)

“Mom” or “Dad” is too cutesy for my taste, but no one will accuse you of being un-PC for using the terms. And unless you’re auditioning for the role of Little Lord Faunterloy, avoid “master” at all costs. It gives me the shivers.

Me, I like “human” or “person.” As in, “Oh, you’re Pesto’s person? Nice to meet you – I belong to Shazbot.” Admittedly, the term felt a little awkward when I first started using it. But no worse than explaining to my non-dog loving friends why my home has a four to one dogbed-to-dog ratio.