Someone needs a hobby.

Oh Prudie, you get the most special letter-writers:

Q. Animal Abuse?: Is it animal abuse if the owners of three dogs constantly denigrate their largest, least intelligent dog? They love all three of their pooches, and they shower each dog with affection, but because their largest least intelligent dog is always desperate for attention, they often call him an idiot and make fun of him. Not always to his face, but sometimes to his face. When they make fun of him to his face, they make fun of him in a sing-song voice so he thinks they’re being nice to him. It makes me uncomfortable. Is this animal abuse?

Someone take that dog away from its evil owners! Are those assholes under the impression that the dog doesn’t speak English or something?

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
This entry was posted in Animals and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

102 Responses to Someone needs a hobby.

  1. Betsy says:

    I assumed it was a prank, and was surprised she answered it seriously (or ran it at all!)

  2. Caperton says:

    We always tell Skip, our rat terrier, that’s he’s the third-best dog in the house: First is Dave, second is any other dog we’d bring into the house that would inevitably be better than Skip, and third is Skip. If say that to him in front of people, sometimes they glare. But Skip (and being a dog, surely he understands English) just licks my nostril understandingly. Or farts and then runs away from it.

  3. gwyllion says:

    OK – THIS made me laugh out loud which is almost impossible to do:

    But Skip (and being a dog, surely he understands English) just licks my nostril understandingly. Or farts and then runs away from it.

    thanks for that!

  4. Andie says:

    I call my cats assholes.

    Well, they are. Assholes.

  5. La Lubu says:

    Oh my. This reminds me of folks who would get upset with me for calling my cat Max (R.I.P.) “fat” to his face (or, in earshot as a descriptor, “my fat cat”). (Shocked expression) “Can’t you say chubby? Or pleasantly plump? You’re going to hurt his feelings!” Thing is, Max didn’t care about his weight; he was invariably happy about being a fat cat. “Cat of size”…..would have been waaayyy over the top.

  6. I’m just waiting. I’m seriously just waiting. The comment you’re expecting will surely materialize.

  7. Andie says:

    Thomas MacAulay Millar: I’m just waiting. I’m seriously just waiting. The comment you’re expecting will surely materialize.

    I think we all are.

  8. Jeny says:

    Yep, waiting with popcorn. We’ve all learned the lessons of this thread: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/05/10/but-what-about-when-boys-call-me-foxy/

  9. Andie says:

    Jill:
    Animal-lovers should now boycott Feministe.

    Pre-flounce defence? “Y’all can’t flounce out now.. I’ve just flounced FOR YOU.”

  10. suspect class says:

    My chickens haven’t started laying yet, and I routinely call them lazy freeloaders and tell them to get a job. They squawk at me and ask for treats, because they are lazy freeloaders, and damn proud of it.

  11. Donna L says:

    You people should be ashamed of yourselves. When I’m forced to chastise my cat Ziggy for doing things like vomiting on the floor in the doorway to my bedroom so I step on it barefoot when I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I am always careful to criticize his actions, rather than criticizing his character as by calling him a “bad cat.” And I think his high self-esteem is directly attributable to my restraint.

  12. Kristen J. says:

    Time for a reprise of Jill, I am disappoint.

    Of course our puppy speaks English, Japanese, Hawaiian, Chinese and French. So there! **Flouncety Flounce**

  13. zuzu says:

    The only thing that could improve the chances of a trainwreck here is a princess in a silly hat.

  14. RedSonja says:

    Ha! My dog responds to “bad dog” as readily as her name. And when we ask if she is ready for her beating, she wags like mad. I suspect our animals will be removed posthaste.

  15. librarygoose says:

    My cat really had brain damage. It affected his intelligence. He couldn’t have been that bright to begin with to jump into gasoline…he was sweet as hell though. (He also never had fleas after that)

  16. Sheelzebub says:

    zuzu: The only thing that could improve the chances of a trainwreck here is a princess in a silly hat.

    Actually, the coup de grace would be a dog or a cat in a silly hat. Or a dog and a cat, in gladiator outfits, FIGHTING UNTIL IT’S DINNERTIME.

  17. BH says:

    Just a few days ago i had to put my 17 year old chihuahua to sleep after she suddeny had a stroke. I spent 17 years telling my dog she was a bad dog but also telling her she made a good couch pillow and vacuum cleaner and shadow. (Seriously she followed me around day and night for 17 years, i now feel like i cant walk correctly without her behind me)

    Before we put her to sleep i told her was a good dog, she licked my face. But you know – i think she always knew.

  18. Randy says:

    I called my dogs “the patriots”. They mostly like to watch movies about Vietnam wars with me and they like America…
    hahahaha when the movie starts, even bone can’t abuse them :)

  19. Dog Rights Activist says:

    No dog should be third best dog. Any dog always best dog. Evil females ranking dog against dog and making dog fight within ourselves. Is bad. BAD FEMALE. NO TREAT. NO WALKIES.

    Dog like human female, but on dog term. Not rank dog, treat all dog as supreme, then dog be happy. NOT CALL DOG NAME. Human female have potential, dog will make them fulfill full potential as perfect companion for dog.

    NOT RANK DOG.

    BAD FEMALE.

    TELL DOG IS GOOD DOG.

  20. My cats are all stupid shits from time to time, and I call them that. “What made you think you could walk on the curtain rod backwards, you stupid shit??”

    I am a cat person, but I honestly think cats as a rule are dumber than dogs (which isn’t saying much, as I have know some dogs that were clearly no smarter than common flatworms or possibly gravel). The difference is cats PRETEND to be smart. It’s that aloof “I meant to do that” attitude. Cats feel shame. Dogs feel GUILT.

  21. Tom Foolery says:

    My cat Omar Little is routinely referred to as “Fatty,’ because he’s a fatty.

    Animal abuse/fat shaming c-c-c-c-combo!

  22. kungfulola says:

    We call our kitty “The trophy cat”, because all she has to recommend her, is her looks. Her smarts (and occasionally, smell) definitely leave something to be desired, but she is oh so pretty. Worse than Stalin, we are!

  23. igglanova says:

    Tom Foolery: Animal abuse/fat shaming c-c-c-c-combo!

    C-C-C-C-C-C-COMMMBO BREAKERRRRR!!!

    oh god, now I have to go home and play the shit out of that game and it is all your fault, Feministe. (GLACIUS 4 LIFE, BITCHEZ)

  24. Politicalguineapig says:

    One cat has earned the nickname ‘Dairy Queen’ for her obsessive love of all things milk, cream, and cheese based. The other gets cussed out for her habit of attacking guests. Or told ‘why can’t you be cute all the time?’

  25. Kristen J. says:

    @Sheelzebub,

    Ask and ye shall receive, presuming you have lamb.

  26. Cactus Wren says:

    BH, hugs if you want them.

    BH:
    Before we put her to sleep i told her was a good dog, she licked my face. But you know–i think she always knew.

    Yes.

  27. MH says:

    I wouldn’t trust the people described in the letter to raise human children, that’s for sure. If they’re willing to insult someone and feel it’s okay because that someone “doesn’t understand,” how are they going to behave toward a pre-verbal or developmentally disabled child? Or, what sort of behaviour toward others (humans and nonhumans) are they likely to model for their kids or other young people?

    We don’t just refrain from insulting other people because we might hurt them, but because we hurt ourselves in the process, and perpetuate negativity among our social environs. We harden our hearts and close off our higher consciousness by thinking of others in negative ways, and, if we act out those thoughts (in behaviour or in speech) we reaffirm our own worst tendencies. Really, ridiculing someone for their lack of intelligence and desire for affection? What does that reveal about their own inner world?

    (I’m a ‘mom’ to one cat who is remarkable for her intelligence, and one cat who is remarkable for his loving nature.)

  28. Tori says:

    My dog — who responds to Stinky as readily as her name and is constantly told she is precisely smart enough to be a small dog (which she is) — habitually “reads” (see, understands English!) my computer over my shoulder. She has not walked away from this thread; she does leave if I inadvertently click a link to Fox News.

  29. Dog Rights Activist says:

    Cat bad. Dog not want cat have rights.

    Tori – dog not like Fox, fox too much like cat. Dog like Wuffington Post and and The Rarrdian. (Rarr is angry noise dog make at cat CAT BAD. Rarrdian cover important issues like cat on dog discriminating and the menace of catnip)

    Me still in shock at original letter. Dog being held back by female human for fun. Dog rights group will discuss how to free poor not-bad dog.

    All dog welcome. BYOBones.

    NO CAT.

  30. MH: If they’re willing to insult someone and feel it’s okay because that someone “doesn’t understand,” how are they going to behave toward a pre-verbal or developmentally disabled child?

    The “someone” in question is not a “someone” at all, but a dog. Dogs are not people. Assuming that someone who insults their dog would automatically mistreat their own children is a hell of a logical leap.

  31. umami says:

    If they’re willing to insult someone and feel it’s okay because that someone “doesn’t understand,” how are they going to behave toward a pre-verbal or developmentally disabled child

    Wow, I’ve heard moms insult their pre-verbal crying babies before and I never ever once thought “ZOMG bad mommy, shouldn’t be trusted with children.” I guess that just goes to show how hard my heart is and how closed off my higher consciousness is. :/

    I perpetuated negativity among my social environs by thinking that if you’re exhausted and stressed and frustrated by a five month old baby that never stops crying, then calling the baby a brat in your soothing lullaby voice is a completely harmless and understandable way of venting a bit of frustration. I can see I have a lot to learn.

  32. Jill says:

    We don’t just refrain from insulting other people because we might hurt them, but because we hurt ourselves in the process, and perpetuate negativity among our social environs. We harden our hearts and close off our higher consciousness by thinking of others in negative ways, and, if we act out those thoughts (in behaviour or in speech) we reaffirm our own worst tendencies. Really, ridiculing someone for their lack of intelligence and desire for affection? What does that reveal about their own inner world?

    Yesssss I knew it was only a matter of time.

  33. BH says:

    Thanks. i must admit, the day it happened, i had a an ‘omg i should have toldher she was a good dog more!’ thought. But a few days later i realized that was just a ridiculuous -grief- inspired thought.

    Also-to the comments saying people who insult dogs will mistreat and abuse children, my mom told me when i was a child she called me crankypants. When i would whine i was hungry and she asked, do you want some cereal? and i shouted NO! ad infinitum through a dozen choices she would say ok then -be crankypants, im going to have a sandwich, join me if you’d like. I don’t even remember this, so i wasn’t too badly scarred.

  34. MH says:

    Sorry, but I don’t have any interest in adhering to a pseudo-“intersectional” feminism that goes around proclaiming things like “[Nonhumans] are not people.” A hundred years ago, I, and most of the people commenting on this site, were not “people” either. “Personhood” is an inherently exclusionary framework for approaching anti-oppression work.

  35. EG says:

    MH: If they’re willing to insult someone and feel it’s okay because that someone “doesn’t understand,” how are they going to behave toward a pre-verbal or developmentally disabled child?

    You have got to be fucking kidding me. Yeah, clearly, that logical leap makes perfect sense. For instance, when my mother takes our dog out for a walk, she puts a collar around his neck and puts him on a leash and forces him to shit outside in the street where everybody can see him, no matter what the weather is like! I’m sure you can imagine how she handled my childhood, especially the toilet-training phase.

    Or, what sort of behaviour toward others (humans and nonhumans) are they likely to model for their kids or other young people?

    The sort of behavior that indicates that one is able to tell the difference between people and animals, affectionate goofiness and emotional abuse? The sort of behavior that indicates that the person behaving in that way has both a sense of proportion and and one of humor?

    MH: We don’t just refrain from insulting other people because we might hurt them, but because we hurt ourselves in the process, and perpetuate negativity among our social environs. We harden our hearts and close off our higher consciousness by thinking of others in negative ways,

    You know what? Speak for yourself. I refrain from insulting people if and because I don’t wish to hurt them.

    and, if we act out those thoughts (in behaviour or in speech) we reaffirm our own worst tendencies. Really, ridiculing someone for their lack of intelligence and desire for affection? What does that reveal about their own inner world?

    Yeah, it’s clearly better just to suppress any negative thoughts about any person, animal, plant, or inanimate object and refuse to ever let them pass one’s lips. That’d be a healthy atmosphere in which to bring up a child (“Mama, Sarah pushed me off the monkey bars at school, and I fell and skinned my knee and got my pants all muddy, and then she laughed at me for being muddy, and she’s a poophead!” “Now, now. Don’t hurt yourself by speaking negatively about Sarah.” “She pushed me and laughed at me!” “Consider what her inner world must be like!”)

    Wow, Jill. I honestly thought you were joking. Surely we’re all being wound up by a clever regular commenter? Surely? I mean, I was planning to throw a mock-fit…I didn’t think it was possible to throw a real one about this.

  36. PrettyAmiable says:

    YES. Obviously calling a cat “dumb” is the same as calling a developmentally disabled child “dumb” because neither understands the nature of the insult. There is absolutely nothing offensive about this comparison, and it doesn’t reflect poorly on you as a person, MH. Not at all. Can you feel my positivity? How are my social environs?

  37. PrettyAmiable says:

    EG: I’m sure you can imagine how she handled my childhood, especially the toilet-training phase.

    Most importantly, do you still shit outside?

    MH: Sorry, but I don’t have any interest in adhering to a pseudo-”intersectional” feminism that goes around proclaiming things like “[Nonhumans] are not people.”

    Just… LOL. I got trolled hard, huh?

  38. Tori says:

    Dog Rights Activist:
    Catbad.Dognotwantcathaverights.

    Tori–dognotlikeFox,foxtoomuchlikecat.DoglikeWuffingtonPostandandTheRarrdian.(RarrisangrynoisedogmakeatcatCATBAD.Rarrdiancoverimportantissueslikecatondogdiscriminatingandthemenaceofcatnip)

    Mestillinshockatoriginalletter.Dogbeingheldbackbyfemalehumanforfun.Dogrightsgroupwilldiscusshowtofreepoornot-baddog.

    Alldogwelcome.BYOBones.

    NOCAT.

    I’m pretty sure my dog (aka Stinky) would like it to be known that dogs are not a monolith of affiliation and belief — as she is currently cuddled up with the cat.

  39. EG says:

    MH: Sorry, but I don’t have any interest in adhering to a pseudo-”intersectional” feminism that goes around proclaiming things like “[Nonhumans] are not people.”

    So true. When will feminists take on the tragic situations of canine people who are “showered with affection” by their owners, sorry, caretakers, and then, in a cruel twist made fun of by those same caretakers when they’re not even there, and/or in ways that the caretakers make sure never cause them pain or distress? Won’t somebody think of the large, attention-seeking, affectionate dogs who are treated really well and sometimes gently mocked by the people who love them?

    Anyway, I’m not interested in any pseudo-animal-rights rhetoric that assumes that a human in a human-cat relationship is the “mommy.” What gives you the right to appropriate the status of that cat’s feline mother? Why do you automatically assign your cat the subordinate role in the mother-child relationship?

  40. EG says:

    OK, surely MH is just winding us up?

    Well done, dear lady. Well done.

  41. Caperton says:

    MH, I ran your concerns past Skip and Dave. Dave chewed a stuffed hedgehog while staring at the cat, and Skip licked his own anus for a minute and a half before running into the bedroom. I’m not fluent in Dog, but I think that translates to “right on.”

  42. andie says:

    umami: I perpetuated negativity among my social environs by thinking that if you’re exhausted and stressed and frustrated by a five month old baby that never stops crying, then calling the baby a brat in your soothing lullaby voice is a completely harmless and understandable way of venting a bit of frustration. I can see I have a lot to learn.

    I used to do this with my kids as babies. They grew up into the same kids that laugh at me when I tell them I’m going to pull off their arms and beat them with them.

  43. Donna L says:

    MH’s comments *have* to be a joke, right? Nobody could hit all those buzzwords so perfectly by accident.

    I salute you, MH. You did a better job than I did — I’m too worried about what people might think of me not to have made it obvious that I wasn’t serious about Ziggy. (Yes, I’ve called him a “bad cat” and similar things — not only when I step barefoot in his vomit in the middle of the night, but whenever he decides to sneak up behind me, take a flying leap, and bite me in the rear end as I’m getting into bed. Even if he is “just playing.” And my tone of voice doesn’t always sound like I’m singing a lullaby at such times, either!)

  44. Bagelsan says:

    A hundred years ago, I, and most of the people commenting on this site, were not “people” either.

    No kidding, a hundred years ago my grandparents weren’t even people yet; they were gametes though by then. And that’s like a bajillion dog generations! Truly they have been dog-oppressed seven times as much as humans have been human-oppressed.

    As for my own history of animal cruelty: I used to call my dog all sorts of things, but she didn’t give a damn. Eventually she went partially deaf with age and really didn’t care (I say “partially” ’cause you’d better believe that stinky sneaky fluffball was super deaf when instructed to do things she didn’t want to, and surprisingly acute when we mentioned wonderful wonderful car rides. Oh, Border Collies you bossy bitches!)

  45. jillheather says:

    My dog responds to “bad dog” as readily as her name.

    What a coincidence! You fight like a cow. My cat responds to “stupid jerkface” as readily as he does his name; to wit, not at all.

  46. librarygoose says:

    I tease my 3 year old niece all the time. What must I be doing to her mind? She must really fear that I will give her to the monsters that live in the drain. Or that when I pick her up I truly have no idea where she went. She must fear for her very existence. I know for a fact that it shook me to my core when she informed me that I am a “silly jerk”. But she also said we’re best friends…WHAT SHOULD I BELIEVE?

  47. Rodeo says:

    I completely agree that:

    We don’t just refrain from insulting other people because we might hurt them, but because we hurt ourselves in the process, and perpetuate negativity among our social environs. We harden our hearts and close off our higher consciousness by thinking of others in negative ways, and, if we act out those thoughts (in behaviour or in speech) we reaffirm our own worst tendencies.

    and especially:

    “Personhood” is an inherently exclusionary framework for approaching anti-oppression work.

    But I still call my dog a dumb piece of shit in that happy sing-songy voice. For one, dogs don’t understand language and for another, “dumb piece of shit” is a compliment for a dog. Honestly, does any other animal embody “ignorance is bliss” to the extent that dogs do?

    Dogs understand tone and non-verbal communication. When I’m squeaking “who’s a dumb dog? who is? is it you? are you a dumb dog?” while scratching ears, I’m not perpetuating negativity. If anything, I’m strengthening a bond with one with the most important beings in my life.

    Though, come to think of it, my mother’s dog is so stupid that avoid calling her dumb because it really does make me feel bad. Seriously people, we’re talking running into walls, repeatedly.

    At any rate, I get what you’re saying, I really do, and I believe it myself. But I don’t think affectionately insulting dogs reinforces environmental violence to the extent you’re saying.

  48. Mr. Kristen J. says:

    So when Abbie looks properly contrite when I chastise her by saying she’s cute and furry, she is merely playing along? She’s a diabolical furry llittle genius.

  49. Sam says:

    I used to tell my dog all the time that we were going to cook him for dinner. He always seemed very excited at the prospect, even when I warned him that it wouldn’t be worth doing until he was forty pounds. I don’t think he ever topped five pounds, unfortunately…

  50. Mandolin says:

    “I wouldn’t trust the people described in the letter to raise human children, that’s for sure.”

    WORST PARENTS IN THE WORLD:

  51. Treefinger says:

    I dunno, calling animals names in a silly voice certainly doesn’t hurt their feelings, but it is a bit creepy.

    I don’t think I’ll ever be able to take a side on this debate until we develop technology that lets animals communicate with us in complex ways. We can neither assume that animals would or wouldn’t care about that kind of thing (if they could understand it to begin with) until they can actually tell us.

  52. Treefinger says:

    And by creepy, I mean… I don’t know. There’s something about berating anyone or anything that is inherently weird.

    I mean I watched a video of myself calling a friend’s dog a greedy piece of crap while I was feeding him some snacks once, and although the dog obviously didn’t give a shit, I still felt disgusting when I watched myself.

  53. karak says:

    @Treefinger–not to get too meta, but don’t you exchange insults with your family and friends? My friends say things to me outsiders would think was awful shit but I know it’s funny because we have a relationship like that. I call my cat fat and in turn he walks across my keyboard and turns off my computer. And it’s cuuuuuute,

  54. Mandolin says:

    I’m curious about how extensive the “we have to have complex communication before we can judge what pets like” line of thought is.

    When I pet my cat, he generally arches toward my hands and makes “mrr” sounds and starts purring. These are the same behaviors that he does when I pet my cat while saying “damn, you’re a sharp little bastard.”

    On the contrary, when he is miffed, he nips at my hand or biffs off.

    I do not technically know that I am interpreting any of these actions correctly. It may, in fact, be false when I assume that he’s very happy that food is appearing in the dishes in front of him simply because he purrs and eats. Should I hold off on holding an opinion on these things?

    Or can we reasonably assume that most pet-owners actually do have a general sense of how their animals are reacting to stuff?

    I mean, I guess maybe you’re saying we need a more complex communication system to find out not how pets react to that stuff in their current pet-like existence, but how they would react if they understood *the abstract principle* of teasing. I have no idea, of course, how they’d react to that. They can’t react to that. I also don’t know what my reaction is to colorless green ideas sleep furiously. I think it’s essentially a divide by zero error.

    I guess we could modify cat consciousness so that they understood the linguistic and social complexities of verbal irony, but I’m not sure the resulting entity’s opinions would have much in common with those of my current, purring, sleeping, sharp bastard.

  55. McAllen says:

    Um, who says that someone’s being insulting when they call their pets names in a sing-song voice? To me, something could only be insulting if the listener takes it as being insulting, OR the speaker means it to be insulting, neither of which is the case when I call my jack russell a little pest in a sweet voice while vigorously scratching her back.

  56. Natalia says:

    I refer to my son as “Lil Dictator” when he refuses to go to bed at night – or decides to treat the boobie as a pacifier at 4 in the morning, while mommy’s got to get up for work in a few. When he screams, we call him “Lil Tomato” – because his face closely resembles a tomato then. Naturally, we do it as a way to make fun of his suffering and denigrate his personhood.

    This horrifying, destructive tendency started when with my pets, of course – I used to call my dogs “Lil Bitchface” and “Lil Bastard.” The cats were “Fatty” and, uh, also “Lil Bitchface” (I don’t claim to be extremely creative with my insults, especially when it’s 6 a.m. and they’re knocking stuff over on the dresser to get my attention).

    Having started on the gateway drug of denigrating doghood and cathood respectively, I have not looked back. *cue Imperial March*

  57. Natalia says:

    neither of which is the case when I call my jack russell a little pest in a sweet voice while vigorously scratching her back.

    How do you KNOW. He could be CRYING ON THE INSIDE.

  58. eriN says:

    I sometimes call my daughter “lil’ poopie-face” in a singy-songy voice. I guess they’re gonna come and take her away, now. . .

  59. preying mantis says:

    Treefinger: We can neither assume that animals would or wouldn’t care about that kind of thing (if they could understand it to begin with) until they can actually tell us.

    If they could understand English and had developed the intellectual and emotional capacity to give a damn, I promise I wouldn’t tell my cats I was going to murder them if they didn’t stop deliberately shoving things off or pulling things out of the bookcase or my dog that she was the dumbest dog in the world. We cool?

  60. goldaries says:

    Honestly, when my daughter cries late at night, particularly several nights in a row, I sing to her the “mommy’s little whineass” song, an heirloom lovingly passed down from mother to daughter for at least three generations. For some reason, this calms her down most times.

    Likewise, my dog’s favorite term of endearment (or at least the one he responds to most favorably) is “dumb shit,” which makes him roll over on his belly expecting a scratch. He also wags his tail and acts happy when I tell him he’s almost big enough to be made into a stew.

    I guess I’m just a horrible person. :P

  61. Sheelzebub says:

    EG: Anyway, I’m not interested in any pseudo-animal-rights rhetoric that assumes that a human in a human-cat relationship is the “mommy.” What gives you the right to appropriate the status of that cat’s feline mother? Why do you automatically assign your cat the subordinate role in the mother-child relationship?

    WIN.

  62. Sheelzebub says:

    Caperton: MH, I ran your concerns past Skip and Dave. Dave chewed a stuffed hedgehog while staring at the cat, and Skip licked his own anus for a minute and a half before running into the bedroom. I’m not fluent in Dog, but I think that translates to “right on.”

    AND ANOTHER WIN.

  63. Crys T says:

    I sometimes threaten to snip my cat’s feet off and leave her little furry stumps. Not because she’s been bad or anything, just because.

    I also sometimes tell her she’s the ugliest cat in the universe.

  64. preying mantis says:

    Crys T: I sometimes threaten to snip my cat’s feet off and leave her little furry stumps. Not because she’s been bad or anything, just because.

    I also sometimes tell her she’s the ugliest cat in the universe.

    Truly you are history’s greatest monster. I limit myself to enlightened pursuits like levying crippling taxes on my cats and then granting them a temporary abatement if they please me.

  65. Nahida says:

    Awwe man, why are there so many ableist people in this movement?!

  66. Sera says:

    Does it count that my husband and I referred to our cats as “Football” (as in, I could punt you down the road for miles just for fun) and now we often refer to our children in the same way – without giving them the context… Actually thinking about it now, they probably think that calling someone a football is a new form of swearing, like stinkbomb or snottersaurus…both of which I have used lovingly when their boodily functions called for it…

    Now when I meet with irritating adults for my job, I mentally envision myself dropkicking them all curled up football-style down our busy main road… and I smile.

  67. Nahida says:

    peggyluwho:
    Ifartonmycat.

    wtf. o.O

  68. Crys T says:

    @ preying mantis: You have to show them who’s boss.

  69. My dog is named Guapo. That means ‘handsome’ and ‘brave’ in Spanish. He is cock-eyed and afraid of the vaccum cleaner. And thunderstorms. And he is also extremely weak-bladdered. I don’t think any of this hurts his actual feelings.

  70. preying mantis says:

    Nahida: wtf. o.O

    Maybe the cat started it?

  71. Crys T says:

    @Jessica Isabel: I’ve not heard “guapo” used to mean “brave” before, only “good-looking.” (I’m from Spain)

    My former cat was called Goku, so I used to call him “Gokulindo.”

  72. littlepitcher says:

    1-Pets acquire vocabularies. I once had a pitiably homely orange tom. He would flinch when a guest called him ugly. Had another which hated kids and broke me of baby-talking pets.
    2-This could be an abuser ridiculing Lauren’s good work. I was tied to the back porch and fed lunch from the dog’s dish, and the abuser’s extended family still refers to me, eldest of three, as “the dog”. They are precisely the kind who would seek group validation and in-crowd lulz with such a letter.

  73. Shives says:

    I regularly tell my cat that I’m going to skin him and make mittens out of him, usually after he’s knocked a drink over on my desk, stolen food off my plate or has his face buried in a glass of whiskey I poured after a long day of work. He generally twitches his tail at me and continues on doing whatever it was that I was threatening him for. I think if he could understand and speak English “Bitch, please.” would be what came out of his mouth at that point in time. And sometimes if he’s sleeping under my desk he’ll bite my toes until I move my feet. He’s broken skin before! We always make nice in time for bed so that he can get all the snuggles and steal all my blankets. Am I living in an abusive relationship? Should we seek Cat/Human counseling?

  74. Andie says:

    Shives: I regularly tell my cat that I’m going to skin him and make mittens out of him,

    I’ve told mine “You know, I bet you’d sound really nice as violin strings”

  75. Niki says:

    My two cats have the nicknames “my little handsome man” and “shithead.” I love them both dearly, and equally. But seriously, Shithead can be a shithead. An adorable, precious, cuddly little shithead.

    Please do not report me to the humane society.

  76. DouglasG says:

    My smart cat eventually learned to vomit in the bathroom, while my affectionate cat eventually learned how to jump to the top of the china cabinet and back down without breaking anything.

    Quite a few interesting questions in the link besides the one provided (my favourite was the woman who resents her new husband because, after they broke up their marriages to be together, their social circle is being much nastier to her than to him).

  77. Ledasmom says:

    I am deeply, deeply offended by this comment thread, and so are my cats Dipshit and Fat Useless Lump. Also my kids, Butthead and Doofus.

  78. anna says:

    I just wish you hadn’t used “special” as in “special needs” for an insult. No, I’m not all horrified and disgusted at you hurting my precious woobie feelings, but just maybe next time you could please say stupid (or if you want to be sarcastic “charming”) or something like that?

    I would just really appreciate it.

    Thanks!

    (hope to avoid flames)

    • Jill says:

      I just wish you hadn’t used “special” as in “special needs” for an insult. No, I’m not all horrified and disgusted at you hurting my precious woobie feelings, but just maybe next time you could please say stupid (or if you want to be sarcastic “charming”) or something like that?

      …? I wasn’t using the term “special” to mean “special needs.” I was using the term literally/slightly sarcastically, as in, Prudie gets very unique and unusual letter-writers, and also “isn’t that special” like “isn’t that nice” when something is not nice at all.

  79. anna says:

    Oh sorry for the misunderstanding!

    A lot of people do use it that way unfortunately.

    On topic: What the hell is this letter I don’t even.

  80. Paraxeni says:

    Shives – I have two big bunnies, and I tell them “You won’t fit in the crockpot so you’re safe from WonkyMammy (my partner) who wants to eat you”. Then I tell them “But your fur is so pretty. I could use your ears to make finger-warmers, and the rest of you to make a hat, and some bootees to keep me warm”

    They carry on as normal, chuntering away at me and demanding mint leaves to nibble on.

    Sam – your dog sounds tiny! My buns are about 10lbs!

    Reading this thread makes me miss having a dog. I loved chatting to mine, and calling her silly names.

  81. debbie says:

    I routinely threaten to have my sister’s rabbits made into slippers.

    I tell my cat that he is stupid, but that I understand that he can’t help it because his brain is the size of a walnut. I also regularly tell him that he has cat food breath and a stinky butt.

    When I was a kid, my parents played a game where they tried to figure out at what point I became smarter than the dog. Apparently, many dogs are smarter than toddlers.

  82. EG says:

    Meh, I’m not sure I buy that. The article said that dogs can count up to five (give or take) and that they can understand 165-250 words. Most, if not all, toddlers I’ve known can count beyond five, and while vocab varies from kid to kid, I suspect they have a more sophisticated understanding of grammar than dogs, and self-awareness. Toddlers pass the mirror test, but I’ve not read of a study in which dogs recognize themselves the mirror.

  83. igglanova says:

    Getting serious for a moment, though, when you compare human intelligence to animal intelligence using extremely anthropocentric measures like language acquisition or ability to understand mirrors (a very visually biased test for animals with crummy eyes and a primarily scent-oriented worldview), the humans will win every time. It’s kind of a futile effort to set up two species in an intelligence contest anyway, but it’s especially useless when the measurements have no hope of being objective. As a kind of extreme illustration of that point…do we think blind people lack self-awareness because they don’t recognize themselves in mirrors? That’s always the easiest criticism to make of mirror-obsessed theories like Lacan’s (which I am forced to learn about as if it were anything but complete bullshit, THANK YOU UNIVERSITY). Likewise, we don’t evaluate human intelligence on the parameter ‘does he understand the body language this dog is using?’

    Not that I think dogs are actually secretly smarter than people or anything. But there are many ways to be intelligent that are probably not obvious to us. Personally, I find it astonishing that dogs can understand language at all – distinguishing phonemes is a very specialized task, especially when your species would have absolutely no use for that capacity without regular interaction with people.

  84. zuzu says:

    igglanova: Personally, I find it astonishing that dogs can understand language at all – distinguishing phonemes is a very specialized task, especially when your species would have absolutely no use for that capacity without regular interaction with people.

    Dogs are opportunistic little shits who have learned to interpret our tones of voice, words and expressions in order to manipulate us into giving them food.

    And ear scritches.

  85. Kristen J. says:

    There was an interesting book called I think “Inside a Dog” or something like that where the author discusses in signficant detail the sensory and cognitive capacities of dogs. What I found most fascinating was the breadth of what they can sense with their nose and their capacity for learning minute changes in expression or body language. But then I consider our dog particularly smart. Afterall how many toddlers can wake you up in the miiddle of the night when you start wheezing and will stare balefully at the drawer in which you keep your inhaler.

  86. igglanova says:

    Gratuitous dog story – mine has learned to entertain himself by pulling the cardboard tubes out of toilet paper rolls, while leaving the surrounding toilet paper completely intact. The first sheet is still stuck to the body of the roll, even. I had a serious WTF moment the first time I came home to a bunch of mysteriously limp and boneless toilet rolls behind the couch.

    THE TUBE IS ON THE FLOOR.

    THE TOILET PAPER IS UNHARMED.

    HOW THE HELL DOES HE DO IT.

    He doesn’t even have thumbs. I think this is evidence of a concealed alien superpower.

  87. Kristen J. says:

    GENIUS! Do you think he uses them to play like a kazoo?

  88. PrettyAmiable says:

    SHUT UP. The tube thing is awesome. I couldn’t do that.

    Of course, now I’m hell bent on succeeding.

  89. EG says:

    igglanova: That’s always the easiest criticism to make of mirror-obsessed theories like Lacan’s

    Lacan’s theory is utter bullshit–for one thing, he’s clearly never spent time with an infant, as infants can recognize themselves in mirrors long before the age of two or three, which is when he placed such an ability, and for another, I have not read of any infant research psychologist who has any reason to suspect that prior to recognizing themselves in mirrors, infants feel themselves to be at all chaotic and unformed. So it’s nonsense.

    On the other hand, plenty of species with decent eyesight that are closely related to humans can’t recognize themselves in mirrors. Chimps and dolphins reliably can. Orangutangs and gorillas, by and large, cannot, though every so often, an individual raised with particularly enriched educational opportunities can. So far, no other animals, regardless of eyesight, can, as far as I’ve read.

    igglanova: Likewise, we don’t evaluate human intelligence on the parameter ‘does he understand the body language this dog is using?’

    No, but the scientists cited in that study did proclaim doggie intelligence based on their vocab, so…you know, that’s where I went.

    igglanova: Personally, I find it astonishing that dogs can understand language at all – distinguishing phonemes is a very specialized task, especially when your species would have absolutely no use for that capacity without regular interaction with people.

    Well, their species wouldn’t exist without regular interaction with people, so it was probably a pretty essential skill to develop.

    Kristen J.: Afterall how many toddlers can wake you up in the miiddle of the night when you start wheezing and will stare balefully at the drawer in which you keep your inhaler.

    Hard to tell…how many toddlers can get out of their cribs in the middle of the night and get close enough to hear you wheezing in the first place?

    Kristen J.: There was an interesting book called I think “Inside a Dog” or something like that where the author discusses in signficant detail the sensory and cognitive capacities of dogs.

    Daniel Stern has written a similar book whose title escapes me right now about the internal world and experiences of babies…it was wonderful! I wonder if my mom knows the dog book. If not, you have just given me her Hannukah present, and I thank you for it!

    igglanova: HOW THE HELL DOES HE DO IT.

    The most disturbing question to me, is WHY does he do it? Is he plotting something? Some way to communicate with extraterrestrial aircraft? Is there some kind of secret doggie conspiracy afoot? Should we prepare to defend ourselves? And even more importantly to me, is my mother’s yappy little dog a sleeper agent? I never trusted that small creature. Alas for our first dog, a loving, trustworthy mutt who would never have sold us out to marauding alien invaders! Unless it’s zombies. Maybe the doggies are trying to raise the flesh-eating dead, because slow-moving creatures that are already shedding flesh would be like a moving buffet…even then, though, I think our first dog would have hidden us safely.

  90. hellkell says:

    We call the cats stinkbutt, butthead, The Asshole Cats, “HEY QUIT IT,” Plumpus Rumpus, and Princess Fatbooty. They seem incredibly well adjusted in the face of all that abuse.

  91. Crys T says:

    Oh wow: the rabbit mentions reminded me that I also like to hang my cat upside down and chant “rabbit for dinner!”

  92. Kristen J. says:

    EG: The most disturbing question to me, is WHY does he do it? Is he plotting something? Some way to communicate with extraterrestrial aircraft? Is there some kind of secret doggie conspiracy afoot? Should we prepare to defend ourselves? And even more importantly to me, is my mother’s yappy little dog a sleeper agent? I never trusted that small creature. Alas for our first dog, a loving, trustworthy mutt who would never have sold us out to marauding alien invaders! Unless it’s zombies. Maybe the doggies are trying to raise the flesh-eating dead, because slow-moving creatures that are already shedding flesh would be like a moving buffet…even then, though, I think our first dog would have hidden us safely.

    Oh, its definitely zombies. But they aren’t creating them, they’re preparing for the zombie apocolypse. They know that when zombies are attacking we don’t have time to untangle the cord for the chainsaw or to find alternative sources of tinder.

  93. PeggyLuWho says:

    preying mantis: Maybe the cat started it?

    He does insist on putting his butt as close to my face as possible.

  94. miga says:

    @ Igglanova: I really want to meet your dog. Do you think he is available for teaching seminars? Can he open a dojo? I want to learn his ways.

  95. Bagelsan says:

    igglanova: Likewise, we don’t evaluate human intelligence on the parameter ‘does he understand the body language this dog is using?’

    I actually kind of do; when some person is bothering an animal and repeatedly does not get the hint (even in the face of being growled at or scratched) then I totally think that person is a dumbass. :D

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