A recently-published New York times article explains the role of the pet in the family unit and various research projects that are attempting to define the human-pet bond. This article goes onto explain why personal orientation about the role of the pet in the family can lead to disagreements and conflict.
My personal favourite is the 2007 research that categorises pet owners into one of three categories.
Humanists treat their dogs as a member of the family or primary companion. They will do things such as allowing the dog into bed or onto the furniture, cook it special meals, and mourn it when it passes. Humanists tend to look down on dominionists.
Protectionists consider themselves the animal’s advocate with strong personal views on how an animal should be treated. Protectionists are critical of humanists.
Dominionists view their dog as a useful helper, below that in status of the humans. Dogs, in their opinion, are replaceable. Rural people often fall into this category, according to the research.
I’m a proud humanist, by the way!
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand