We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Humans have a tendency to anthropomorphize animals,and to spiritualize them too. Students of animals try very hard to resist those natural inclinations. Animals lack personalities, self-awareness, etc. Those of a species are identical robots, maybe, until you get to the apes.
Well... certainly you are entitled to your opinion, but you must not be an animal lover, or ever have owned an exceptional animal.
They have emotions, they have self-awareness, and they know happiness, contendedness, anger, and shame. Just like humans, each of the higher mammal species has a range of intelligence at the individual level, and when you interact with the high end of apes, horses, dogs, and yes, even cats, a sensitive person can understand and connect with these personalities. Animals have emotions.
Assuming animals are flat, robotic, inferior, and disposable gets you few benefits. Once I realized they were easily our equals except for evident reason, language, and other human cognition a whole world opened up. This latter is dismissed as anthropomorphizing, but lacking a working definition, the word solves nothing. It's just a little linguistic handle.
Funny, the ostensible religious mind as often tends toward extremes in the matter, which gets us back to the problem of either devaluing what we don't care to understand or admitting we don't understand what we do indeed care about. All dogs go to heaven for a reason.
When my children were young we had a dog. I love dogs and cats just don't love owning them. The dog was a yard do no house and not allowed outside the fence. A good dog that would mind and respond to your every command. But when the dog got outside the fence she went deaf. She couldn't hear me call and as I approached her she would move away as fast as necessary. She had 'that' kind of self-awareness. My son could easily catch her because he never gave the impression he was trying to catch her. He would lie on his back, flail his arms and legs and make noises the dog interpreted as playful. the dog would come to play and was caught.
Sentience is the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively. Eighteenth-century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think (reason) from the ability to feel (sentience). In modern Western philosophy, sentience is the ability to experience sensations (known in philosophy of mind as "qualia"). In Eastern philosophy, sentience is a metaphysical quality of all things that requires respect and care. The concept is central to the philosophy of animal rights and also the anti-abortion movement because sentience is necessary for the ability to suffer, and thus is held to confer certain rights.
I don't anthropomorphize animals, but I'm afraid my experience completely contradicts that statement. I've owned both cats and dogs and every one has had a unique personality, frequently with quirky (and sometimes irritating) traits.
I think they are not self-aware in the same way humans are. That's a far cry from saying they have no personalities. To be blind to the quality of their subjective experience would require being blind to the more primitive parts of our own experience, which is to say, to over-rationalize things to a harmful degree.
Even fishkeeping will quickly make you realize, that even tiny tropical fish have personalities. They may have brains as tiny as a pin head, yet in a school of say
rosy Tetras, different individuals will have different behavior. Some are shy, some bold, some more curios, etc. Any body who has kept large fish like cichlids, or sunfish knows what i mean. These fish can become real characters and pets. So when I hear someone say animals have no emotions, this is someone who never kept one.