The Barking of the Sheep

By Cyberquill 05/09/2017Leave a Comment

The other day, while channel-flipping my way through a commercial break, the TV screen suddenly filled up with dozens of bleating quadrupeds.

Because these critters looked so very adorable, I lingered awhile. I had come upon a documentary on free-range sheep farming.

A bearded shepherd was being interviewed about the joys and hardships of making a living off the raising of sheep in this day and age, and doing so organically, as he claimed to use neither pesticides nor herbicides on his pastures. He also talked about the emotional bond he had with his animals and how he knew each one of them individually. And about the skyrocketing rent per acre of pasture and the dark cloud this cast over the long-term sustainability of his profession.

Anyhow, cavorting among the sheep were what looked and sounded like a couple of cute dogs—I forget what breed, but some sort of herding dogs—whose job it was to keep the flock together and scare away any predators that may have set their caps on a juicy rack of mutton for dinner. The man explained that these dogs had been born and raised among the flock and therefore thought of themselves as sheep.

Mind you, he didn’t say these dogs were sheep. He said they thought they were sheep.

But assuming these dogs indeed identify as sheep—not sure how one can make such determination with certainty, but assuming one can—how does it square with modern-day sensibilities and political correctness to refer to them as dogs that identify as sheep rather than as, well, sheep?

For if a dog sincerely deems itself a sheep, it seems a bit transphobic to call it a dog, does it not?

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