Ever wonder where the term ‘pet peeve’ came from and how it became so prevalent in today's society? The 1950’s cartoon directors Hanna and Barbera even produced an animated film on the topic with the same name. But does the term really refer to our pets?
Have you ever considered your pet dog or cat a nuisance? If not, why the derogatory label? If so, what are some of the reasons you find your pets annoying?
Etymology of ‘pet peeve’
Etymology is the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings and translations have changed over time.
Wikipedia lists ‘pet peeve’ as a minor annoyance that an individual identifies as particularly annoying to them, to a greater degree than others may find it.
Its first usage was cited around 1919. The term derives from the 14th-century word “peevish,” meaning "ornery or ill-tempered.” The word “pet” was actually a shortened version of the word “petty,” derived from that which is trivial or minor.
A key aspect of a pet peeve is that while it might be annoying to you, it may well be acceptable to others. So while your dog Rufus might lick you to death, and you are perfectly okay with that — that same action for others might be totally unacceptable — becoming one of their pet peeves — in essence, their dislike of dogs and cats that lick.
Real Pet Peeves
Columnist Doug Hannerman recently did some informal research about pets' annoying behavior, highlighting five common peeves that you may identify with:
1. Some pet owners do not clean up after their pets in public areas. When they allow their dogs to use a neighbor’s yard to do their “duty” this can be particularly annoying — particularly when that yard is yours.
2. Allowing a dog to bark for unreasonable amounts of time might be your pet peeve. Not only is this action disruptive to those in close proximity, but that dog may be in need of attention that your neighbor is not attending to. Related to this type of activity, people also mentioned witnessing dogs that were not given proper food, water and shelter in adverse weather conditions.
3. Pet owners who do not have their animals spayed or neutered also made Hannerman’s list. Overpopulation of domestic pets can lead to animal shelters becoming over-crowded. This is particularly bothersome when spaying or neutering can control the situation.
4. Allowing pets to run off their leash puts both neighborhoods and the animal in harm's way. This can lead to dogs and cats ending up at shelters without proper tags or chips, and no information as to how to help them get back home. Others on the loose can be hit by cars or end up in territory accessible to predators.
5. Cats who get loose to kill songbird populations is problematic as well. This type of irresponsibility can be put in check by simply putting a collar with a bell on your cat.
“Can of Worms”
It's wise not let your pet peeves turn into a “can of worms.” Like a pet peeve, this is a term that is an analogy to another life-form — in this case a container of 'worm-bait' used by fisherman. Its etymological meaning refers to a slew of subsequent problems and dilemmas arising from one ill-advised decision or action.
Hannerman notes it’s “an attempt to attempt to solve some problem, only to inadvertently complicate it and create even more trouble. Especially on issues that seem likely to create conflict.”
So, if you have pet peeves about your neighbors and their treatment [or lack thereof] of their dogs and cats, don’t let these irritations build over time into a “can of worms.”
When you allow problems to brew they become larger than they were at the start. To nip these pet peeves in the bud, you not only address issues head-on, you allow your pet peeves to see the light of day, whether or not others agree with them.
Often others don’t even realize what’s bugging you until they are informed. And once informed they may become more sensitive and open in resolving a ‘pet peeve’ solution.
Primary Source: Pet Peeve