WHEN is a pet not a pet? When it is a "companion" to its "human carer". The animal rights charity PETA has called on the public to stop using the term "pet" and "owner", suggesting that the terms could be derogatory to the creatures you share a home and life with.

Last week saw PETA spokeswoman Jennifer White appear on Good Morning Britain to impart the so-called wisdom behind this message to the nation.

She said: "A lot of people at home who have dogs or cats will call them pets and refer to themselves as owners and this implies that the animals are a possession, like a car, for example."

White also discussed PETA's mission to change common phraseology that include animal references. The old mantra "bring home the bacon" would become "bring home the bagels" and rather than saying "kill two birds with one stone", we should instead plump for "feed two birds with one scone".

Which sounds less like it is raising awareness about animal welfare than it does a series of cheesy advertising slogans to promote a homespun bakery. Also, the organisation is called PETA: the word pet is actually in the name.

Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan promptly rubbished PETA's suggestions – reminding White that the word "pet" comes from the Scottish Gaelic "peata", which means "tame animal" – and I found myself agreeing with him.

Thanks a lot, Jennifer. I'm siding with Piers Morgan. Uuurgh. Words I never wanted to type.

Like most people who have a pet – be it a cat, dog or something reptilian/feathered/gill-bearing aquatic craniate – I can tell you that if anyone is owned, it's us. My collie Moose, or rather Lord Moose, has appointed me head of his household staff.

Be it serving up meals, lobbing tennis balls, making sure his favourite blanket is freshly laundered or accompanying the bold Moose as he conducts his business in the park (for removal of any ambiguity, I mean him doing the toilet, not drug-dealing), I am on call 24/7.

Such as being nudged awake at 2am by a cold, wet nose pressed against my cheek on the pretence of you-know-who needing a quick pee, only for him to get outside, immediately push past me back into the house and then nab the warm spot in the bed I have recently vacated. I fall for it every time.

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PETA has it all backwards. It's humans who belong to animals. And happily, so. Spending time with a pet brings so much joy and contentment. Let's not split hairs – or, as PETA might say, split eclairs – over language. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm about to be taken for my walk.

Rude awakening

A NEW study has revealed the best way to wake up. Funnily enough, it is not being roused from your slumber in the dead of night by the gently prodding snout of a cheeky-yet-adorable collie.

Research by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology suggests that harsh alarm tones might be linked to increased levels of morning grogginess, while melodic tunes could improve alertness. The crux: out with beep, beep, beep and in with the good vibrations of the Beach Boys.

Choosing an alarm tone is a tricky business. I have a friend who swears by waking up to the soothing crooning of Enya, while another insists upon seven alarms simultaneously blaring out what sounds like an air-raid siren warning of imminent nuclear attack.

The one time I shared a hotel room with the latter friend it took the best part of four hours and several stiff drinks before my heart rate returned to anything resembling normal.

Personally, I use my iPhone clock as an alarm which is grand. The only downside is that whenever I hear the twinkling opening bars of "constellation" during waking hours, it's akin to the movie trope when someone utters a trigger phrase to activate a deep-cover agent.

I'm suddenly on high-alert, fumbling for my glasses – even though they are already on my face – and trying to roll out of bed, when I'm actually queueing in the post office for some stamps.

The best tone? No alarm at all.

Plane stupid

OF the many daft things to leave in a plane toilet, a gun has to be top of the list. It sounds like something a hapless Bond baddie would do. Or Mr Bean.

Not a close protection officer who is meant to be looking after former Prime Minister David Cameron as reportedly happened on a flight from New York to London last week.

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Still unconvinced? Let me run through a list of all the daft things that have been left on planes. A headstone, a Victorian flirting fan, an animatronic puppet, a live rattlesnake (literally a snake on a plane), Neil Diamond's xylophone, a suit of armour, a unicycle, shrunken heads, Egyptian artefacts.

A gun. By a bodyguard. Kevin Costner and Richard Madden would be appalled.