Now, on to pets. Bryan Garner from Garner's Modern American Usage says "that" and "which" are the appropriate pronouns to use for anything non-human, but that makes me wonder if he's ever had a dog.
I can't imagine referring to my dog as anything other than "who." My fish could be a "that," but my dog? She's definitely a "who." Perhaps someone else's dog could be a "that"?the dog that tore up my lawn?for example. But my dog is the dog who snuggles up to me at night.
The AP Stylebook seems to use similar logic when it comes to personal pronouns and pets. For example, they state that it's OK to call an unidentified animal "it" or "that."
Earlier, we reported on a cat that was stuck in a tree.
But they note that once the animal has a name, it merits a "he" or "she." (5)
The firefighters rescued Fluffy from the tree. She rewarded them with a boisterous meow.
I believe it's a style choice, and I recommend "who" for pets who feel like part of the family, and "that" for animals that don't.
While you're here please check out the other great Quick and Dirty podcasts. I'm Mignon Fogarty, author of the New York Times bestseller, Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, and you can find me at Twitter and Facebook under the username GrammarGirl.
1. "Periods," The Chicago Manual of Style Online. http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/ch06/ch06_sec013.html (accessed July 30, 2009).
2. "Periods," The AP Stylebook Online. http://www.apstylebook.com/online/index.php?do=entry&id=3544&src=AE (accessed July 30, 2009).
3. "How many spaces should I leave after a period or other concluding mark of punctuation?" MLA Handbook FAQ Webpage, January 15, 2009, http://www.mla.org/style/style_faq/style_faq3 (accessed July 30, 2009).
4. Garner, B., Garner's Modern American Usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003, p. 836.
5. "Animals" The AP Stylebook Online. http://www.apstylebook.com/online/index.php?do=entry&id=175&src=AE
Why You Should Never, Ever Use Two Spaces After a Period (Slate)
A Designer Talks About the Two-Space Error (Chuck Green's Ideabook.com)