The word pet has meant “a domesticated, fondled young animal,” “a spoiled child,” “offense at being slighted” or, a personal favorite, “breaking wind, fart,” according to philologist Leo Spitzer, who once wrote an entire essay on the etymology of the word.
“Pets” these days has come to mean animals that you treat like family: dogs, cats, even fish. A pig that might be livestock to a farmer who intends to make her into bacon is a loved family pet to someone else — they say pigs are smart. Eugeneans love their pets from ferrets to fish, and whether milking them or dancing with them, our animal friends (or as some prefer, the “furkids”) are part of our daily lives.
They say if you love something set it free. In the case of a domesticated animal, if you love it, take care of it. For those of us who are our pet’s “person” rather than “owner,” a collar might seem oppressive, but you’ll be happy you did it after Fido or Fluffy runs away, and you’re waiting for the call to tell you that your puppy or kitty has been found. Put ID on your pet, microchip him and, as EW reminds you every year, always spay and neuter your pets.
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