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Thread: Your Relationship to Pets & Naming Strategies

  1. #21
    Senior Member Sinny's Avatar
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    Parent/friend.

    You can't control a cat. But dogs need you to control them.
    I love pets. They are family.

    The only pets I've ever named were 2 cats called Batman & Robin (Batman had a black bat mask on her face, and Robin seemed good enough for the other - both female though) and a dog called Leo.
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  2. #22
    Member Mxx's Avatar
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    I guess I've taken on the responsibility to provide and care for her. We both dislike being around members of our own species, and she might be the reason I've hardly ever felt a sense of loneliness.

    Once she kicks the bucket though, I'm not sure I'll get another pet. I've got too much wanderlust in my blood for now, and a pet is a handicap for that.

  3. #23
    Sysop Ptah's Avatar
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    Factually, animals that are pets are property. And so, I "own" my pets, in the factual sense. Property as in: a commodity at my disposal, of my responsibility, etc. They are not human, and so not sentient, and therefore: are not possessive of ethical or moral agency (thereby, are only objects of ethical dynamics insofar as there are humans who disagreeably vie over them). Hence, there is no moral obligation qua imperative to them -- there is simply the option, the free choice to treat them with respect and/or care -- or not.

    Emotionally ala behaviorally, my pets are my companions, or have the capacity to be. Well-mannered pets earn my affection, and therefore my care. Ill-mannered pets do not. I strongly prefer cats, for their relative autonomy and independence. Why? When they choose to be with you, it means more than a pack animal, compelled by wired-in herd dynamics. When an animal chooses to bond with me, I bond with them in return. Walah: I have a pet.

    I pick names from my paracosm. For instance, my first cat was named Ptah.
    Last edited by Ptah; 07-16-2018 at 04:49 PM.

  4. #24
    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    @Ptah, might want to look up sentience. Animals in general are sentient.

    It is ironic that the common perception of the word is what the word was made to avoid.
    Last edited by Hephaestus; 07-16-2018 at 06:52 PM.
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  5. #25
    Sysop Ptah's Avatar
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    Perhaps I used the wrong word, yes. Perhaps "sapience" is more correct, but I figure you know what I meant regardless of the term used. Animals -- or simply those often kept as pets, if you prefer -- demonstrably do not rise to the level of human intelligence, behavior, wisdom, communication, volition and so on. Thereby, they are as I said in my post -- not to be regarded in the same ethical capacity as human beings.

  6. #26
    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
    Perhaps I used the wrong word, yes. Perhaps "sapience" is more correct, but I figure you know what I meant regardless of the term used. Animals -- or simply those often kept as pets, if you prefer -- demonstrably do not rise to the level of human intelligence, behavior, wisdom, communication, volition and so on. Thereby, they are as I said in my post -- not to be regarded in the same ethical capacity as human beings.
    I keep wanting to misuse "reticent" in places it almost works.
    Most of time, when people ask why something terrible happened, they don't realize they are looking for someone to blame.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

  7. #27
    Member Thoth's Avatar
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    Interpersonal zeitgeist of the moment and otherwise. For example, I am fairly certain my father was a Ginger Rogers fan, hence a number of dogs baring the moniker Ginger. Alternatively, I think I ended up picking it up subconsciously for being partial to redheads, particularly one stranded on an island for three seasons. I've also named dogs for kung-fu action stars and had a few inspired from advertising campaigns I was working on at the time.

  8. #28
    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    Well, thus far there has been no point in my adult life where I considered my financial and/or residential situation sufficient to acquire any pets of my own without feeling like it would be an irresponsible decision.

    Though when I was growing up my family always had at least one dog, so I'm acculturated as a "dog person" and will probably end up getting one eventually, at least in the hypothetical event of my somehow becoming something other than a perpetually broke, shiftless, transient fuck-up.

    (I've never failed to do right by the kid, but let's just say that hasn't been without its measure of toil and struggle--so I'm not exactly in the market to have any more of them, and by extension pets are still pretty much a no-go as well.)


    However, in my memories it does seem like I ended up naming almost all of the family dogs. Like, not 'officially' but the names we ended up using always seemed to have been something I originally suggested.

    There was the Golden Retriever named Oswald--because I was fifteen and the idea of having a pet named after someone famous for murdering a politician appealed to me.

    Oswald quickly acquired a similarly aged 'brother' from the local Humane Society. He was a total classic rescue mutt who'd just been found abandoned on some farm, but we figured probably a black lab/collie mix.

    He was mostly black but had two white feet and two small white patches right on his upper lip on either side of his nose.

    The shelter staff had named him 'Martin', but since he'd never actually been trained to respond to any name, we immediately all went "Geez, that name sucks; let's just give him a new one."

    So I just started personally, honestly not for any particular reason I recall being consciously aware of, calling him Gomez, and apparently nobody had any better ideas than that, because everybody else just started calling him that, too.

    In retrospect I think it might have been that his white lip patches looked like a mustache. It's an exceptionally rare sort of man who both has a mustache and should have a mustache, and I basically believe the few men like that in the world are probably all named Gomez.

    (In further retrospect-upon-retrospect, the Raul Julia version of the Addams Family character was still pretty iconic at the time. This presumably has something to do with my subconscious view of the name as the most quintessentially appropriate of all names for the kind of guy who can grow a mustache and actually pull off the intended aesthetic.)


    Kind of a shit-ton of guinea pigs, too. Basically my brother got one and named him Boris, and then of course I had to have one too, which turned out to be a female whose name obviously had to be Natasha. Then my parents thought "Hey, you know what would be fun? If we let the kids start breeding them." So Boris and Natasha became the forebears of a rather long and illustrious genealogy. (They mature really fast and you know, breed like rodents, so the later generations tended to be composed of individuals who were the offspring of pairs of siblings, though I figure that's not something they would care about.)


    Actually my parents consulted me for advice again about naming their current dog--another Retriever, as of now about 18 months old.

    They were like "we were thinking about maybe naming him Odin", and I immediately, almost out of pure reflex, just grimaced and said "Gah, no, don't do that. Odin is a terrible name for a dog."

    I mean, terrible name for a Golden Retriever, anyway. I couldn't tell you exactly what breed of dog I'd consider the most figuratively god-like, but certainly not Golden Retrievers. They're like the Swedish beer-ad models of the dog world.

    I think I would probably name a dog Odin if it had ocular heterochromia, or maybe if it seemed unusually perceptive in a remarkable way, but otherwise it just seems kind of... excessive. Like you're trying slightly too hard.

    But almost as reflexively I quickly shot back "Well, not Odin, but what about Olaf?" (Also vaguely Nordic, starts with the same letter, etc.)

    And they went with that. He's named Olaf.


    The funny part is that I have since learned something I did not know then--that the name Olaf is apparently derived from an ancient proto-Germanic word for "wolf". (Actually a whole family of derivative names based on this term--also including Randolph, Rudolf, Adolf, etc.)


    Which is still kind of amusingly ironic if you've met the dog (my dad habitually spoils the hell out of any dog he ever gets his hands on, so they usually end up being kind of lazy, airheaded attention whores--apart from the basic and obvious, nothing about him I'd describe as especially wolf-like)


    I.e. it later turns out to be surprisingly more appropriate than I thought it was, making me indulge in a silly idle fantasy that perhaps I have some kind of special talent for naming things.


    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    I get really wigged out realizing that thinking of children as pets is accurate.

    OK, but here's the thing though:

    For a long time I've been hearing say this thing about how adult dogs supposedly have the same IQ as a three-year-old human.

    It always sounded exactly like the kind of thing that was presumably just a popular myth and couldn't actually be true. (I mean, for starters, how do you even give a dog an IQ test?)


    But then I acquired my own 'pet' 3-year-old human, and the resulting extensive/intensive observation of his visible thought processes (which are most of their thought processes at that age) quickly started seeming uncannily familiar.

    Leading quickly to the subsequent realization that "Holy shit, it's true! Toddlers think exactly the same way that dogs do!"


    (In the pre-toddler phase of age 1-2 it's actually something creepier than that. They're less like an animal and more like a giant head on wheels containing a computer with an immense amount of raw processing capacity but no pre-loaded data, which has only recently become capable of autonomous locomotion and immediately proceeds to start figuring out the basic principles of physics purely through direct experimentation--and this is a feasible strategy because its locomotion machinery has fucking Wolverine healing powers.)
    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
    No history, no exposition, no anecdote or argument changes the invariant: we are all human beings, and some humans are idiots.

  9. #29
    unbeknownst Lilith's Avatar
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    Owner/parent is what I'd say. She's been an incredible companion especially during winter.

    I got her when she's already grown up so just followed what the previous owner named her. If she wasn't so used to that name, I would have named her Yumi.

  10. #30
    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
    Perhaps I used the wrong word, yes. Perhaps "sapience" is more correct, but I figure you know what I meant regardless of the term used. Animals -- or simply those often kept as pets, if you prefer -- demonstrably do not rise to the level of human intelligence, behavior, wisdom, communication, volition and so on. Thereby, they are as I said in my post -- not to be regarded in the same ethical capacity as human beings.

    Posting before looking it up as a little vocabulary challenge to myself, I believe "sentient" properly means "self-aware", which IIRC is true of all vertebrates and maybe things like arthropods and annelids as well.

    I.e. better understood as a quality that separates animals from plants and fungi (and maybe from some of the "lower-order" animals like IDK, mollusks or whatever).


    What humans can do that no other animal can (though I understand there's currently some scientific debate about evidence of a rudimentary capacity in the ape species most closely related to us) is something I've heard referred to as "tertiary cognition".

    As in, a human can experience a sensation, then form a thought about that sensation, and then form a second thought about the first thought.

    Mammals in general (apart from humans and maybe chimpanzees or gorillas) operate at the "secondary" level. E.g. a cat can design a logical strategy to seek pleasure and avoid pain, but its brain doesn't have the necessary hardware for a thought like "But how can I predict in advance whether or not my strategy will work?"

    Tertiary cognition is also what makes things like symbolism (and hence language) possible. We're the only species that communicates or even thinks through the use of symbolism.


    I don't know about this kind of thing, but my dad teaches biology at a university and was telling me the other day about somebody from the math department telling him that dogs are capable of solving calculus problems--as in, if you throw a ball a dog can predict where it's going to land while it's still in the air--but they don't do it the way we do it because we use symbolic representations of concepts to do it, which is a type of reasoning that a dog literally doesn't have the physical ability to engage in.

    What the dog is doing is just pattern recognition based purely on immediate sensory input and the recall of remembered sensory input from the past. They are capable of processing an impressive amount of sensory data to recognize patterns in it, but it's still limited to just that "secondary" type of cognition rather than anything like understanding the meaning of a mathematical theorem.


    (It's old hat at this point that it's possible to teach a gorilla to use sign language, but I believe the still ongoing debate is about whether this actually demonstrates symbolic reasoning, or whether the gorilla is just learning to predict how humans will respond to specific hand movements. Their natural means of communicating with each other is quite complex, and you could even say sophisticated, but no one has of yet conclusively proven that anything they do to signal each other is actually a symbol rather than a way to create a direct sensation that other animals will respond to in predictable ways.)


    So a cat is not capable of processing the concept of "friendship" per se, though it is certainly capable of processing the idea that making gestures of affection toward a person who feeds it is likely to result in a reliable food supply.

    The more interesting part of it being that "necessity" is actually a distinctly tertiary concept (imagine multiple hypothetical courses of action and predict the most likely outcome of each one without directly testing it), whereas desire is a secondary function. Therefore it's probably more accurate to say that animals do things because they want to do them rather than saying they do anything because they need to. They probably don't understand what it means to need something.

    Meaning it probably is accurate to say they experience emotions. Your cat does sincerely like you. It's sincerely enjoying itself when you're petting it, and it's happy when you signal that you also like your cat.

    But tertiary concepts like justice or loyalty would literally mean nothing to a cat even if there were some way to communicate them.


    Obviously there are a variety of opinions out there for people to have about how to regard the ethical significance (if any) of the sensations and emotions of animals vis-a-vis how these are affected by human actions--but no, you certainly can't expect an animal to function as a moral agent the way you'd expect a human to.

    If your personal system for making ethical judgments hinges on some kind of principle of reciprocity--like e.g. a "social contract"--then of course a cat cannot be equivalent to a human in that respect, and more generally the sentience of animals in and of itself is not likely to be very useful to you as a guidepost for how to make judgements about the ethics of how you treat them.




    [EDIT: "the capacity to feel, perceive or experience subjectively". Well, shit, I was sorta close, right?]
    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
    No history, no exposition, no anecdote or argument changes the invariant: we are all human beings, and some humans are idiots.

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