I get asked this question a lot, often on my radio show. I'm very involved with my dogs, I talk about them on the air, and I confess how I often adjust my own life to make things better for my dogs. But I do stop short of where some other people go. So where is the dividing line?
Well, a recent article in our local paper helped with one answer to that - "Dog matrimony draws a crowd." This was about a canine "wedding," complete with bridesmaid dresses and tuxedoes. Granted, there is some ulterior motive, as the owner of the bride and groom makes and sells pet clothing. But this is somewhere I would never go with my dogs. I find it somewhat humiliating just reading about it. So here is where I think the dividing line lies.
I will bend over backward, adjust my schedule, rework my home to make my dog's life the best dog life it can be. But note that I am talking about a DOG'S life. I do not view my dog as my child or human companion or anything other than a dog. This isn't to say that I don't greatly value our association. I do. I think I would have a much sadder life if I didn't live it in the company of dogs. But they are still dogs.
So I don't dress them up, I don't perform human ceremonies for them, and I don't call them my "fur-babies," or whatever other supposed terms of endearment are floating around out there. They are my dogs. I own them. They answer to me, but at the same time I am responsible for keeping them safe, in good heath, and happy.
I think the failure to treat another species AS another species is lamentable. Dogs are wonderfully forgiving, so humans get away with doing things such as holding doggie weddings. But I don't believe it is good for the dogs, or really for the humans. We can get a lot more value out of observing and attempting to emulate the finer qualities of dogs than we can by trying to make them into small furry humans.