furkid
n. A pet treated as though it were one's child. Also: fur-kid, fur kid.

Example Citations:
My name is Brenda Mejia and I'm owned by two Australian cattle dogs. I don't have kids, so I call my dogs my 'furkids.' They keep me as busy as a soccer mom.
—Brenda Mejia, "Pet stories," The Desert Sun (Palm Springs, CA), April 30, 2004

Most everything I ever needed to learn about babies I learned from my dogs.

Although I never went as far as calling them my "fur kids," dogs long predated babies in my life. Indeed, in other pages of this newspaper, I am a pets columnist, writing about everything from bearded dragons to border collies. But as I begin to compose the occasional mothering column as well, I've discovered that there's plenty of crossover wisdom between species.
—Denise Flaim, "Triplet Chronicles; Dogged lessons in baby care," Newsday, May 17, 2004

Earliest Citation:
At least one major consumer advocacy organization advises against pet health insurance. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Washington, D.C.-based Consumer Federation of America, one of the nation's largest consumer advocacy groups, expressed his group's view, which is likely to outrage animal lovers who think of their dogs and cats as their "furkids."
—Christine Winter, "Pet health insurance plans grow by leaps and bounds," Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL), March 26, 2000

Notes:
The code of politically correct speech has come down against the word pet, which at first blush seems about as inoffensive a term as there is in the language. It has referred to a domesticated or tamed animal since the 16th century, and has even branched out to mean a favorite person, or one who is treated with special kindness. What's wrong with that? Plenty, say the animal-rights activists. Pet implies the human ownership of an animal, and that just won't do. The preferred term now is companion animal (1977).

The term furkid, of course, takes us beyond the treatment of the animal as a mere companion and into the realm of surrogate kid-hood. Now we animal guardians (1997) can apply our hyper-parenting skills to our dogs, cats, and other four-legged members of the family.

That some of us are doing this is further evidenced by the fact that a number of synonyms for furkid exist, including furbaby (1993; also: fur baby) and furchild (2000; also: fur child).

Many thanks to Denise Flaim for passing along today's term.

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