Saturday, June 13, 2009

Geez, Louise

One of my pet peeves (pun fully intended) regarding writing about dogs and other companion animals is the insistence by many editors that any animal be referred to as "it" unless the name of the animal -- and thus, supposedly the gender, is known. As I explain in all my For Dummies books, any animal, even those who are surgically altered so that they cannot reproduce, is of one gender or another and deserves the dignity of being referred to as such. That said, I realize that any editor I write for is my client and, if I fail to convince said editor to make an exception to the animal-is-an-it dictum, I do what I'm told.

But this item in The Washington Post's June 11 "Animal Watch" column, which reports local incidences of lost, stray or otherwise errant animals, on June 11 really turned that dictum on its head:

"A person found a stray female Labrador retriever and took it to the police station. There were no identifying tags on the dog. It was taken to the Fairfax County Animal Shelter to await retrieval by its owner."

ATTENTION WA-PO EDITOR: DOESN'T THE FIRST SENTENCE IN THE ABOVE ACCOUNT SAY THE DOG IS FEMALE? SO WE KNOW WHAT THE DOG'S GENDER IS, YES? WHY, THEN, DOES THE REST OF THE ACCOUNT REFER TO THE DOG AS "IT"?

Air conditioning update: Three leaks in the brand new compressor were found and fixed, but a new leak occurred 10 days later -- this time on the inside coil. That is supposed to be fixed next week to the tune of $500. Meanwhile, we're getting freon hits as needed. So, at least for the present, everything's cool.

Allie update: Allie is great. She totally rocked the training class in which this training apprentice is supposed to gain and practice dog handling skills. Way to help me set myself up for success, girlfriend!

Family update: Dear daughter is home from college for the summer. Parents are thrilled. So is big blonde dog.

6 comments:

jan said...

The pronoun neutering of dogs drives me up the wall too. Is it stupidity or just a way to trivialize dogs by making them objects?

Susan said...

God, I wish I knew.

Gina said...

I think it's just habit. In our upcoming article in Parade, Marty and I had written "a dog who" and the copy editor changed it to "a dog THAT."

We asked for it to be changed back, saying we didn't think pronounced used for furniture should apply to family members.

They changed it back to "who."

:)

Gina said...

"pronoun," I mean.

Need more coffee.

Susan said...

If it's just habit, it's one that needs to be broken!

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart said...

We had a guy in our book club for a while who called all dogs HE, even if it was clearly a girl. He was darn near vehement abou it.

Hey! My captcha starts with Rox ;o)