There exists this term, “dawg”, which I can only assume comes from “dog”, that certain groups of people call each other, or themselves, in that particular clique. This looks to be a self-derogatory remark, given the attitude humans can be seen to take towards animals in general (also, the history of what one means when they call another human a dog). But perhaps it is meant to reflect a friendship connection galvanized by loyalty. Given that people seem to be perfectly fine with calling themselves dawgs, I’ll just assume that groups of people who do have managed to make it a term of at least neutral connotation.
(I’m also waiting for someone to refer to a friend as a “dawge”. I guess that would be pronounced “dodge”.)
Another case of the referring to human beings by an animalistic reference occurs in the term “chick”. A trip to urbandictionary.com tells me that a lot of people, in their definitions, try to make it clear that “chick” is “not offensive” or “not meant to be offensive”.
Here’s a thing about the word “chick”, though: one doesn’t hear people calling themselves “chicks”. And when one considers what a chick is, one realizes that it is an infantile version of an animal that actually the human frequently consumes as food and very rarely refers to in a positive way otherwise. (Recall what it means to deem one “chicken”.) When this is the case, and in addition, unlike in the case of “dawg”, people seem to not use this term for themselves, there comes a need to question if one can actually safely deem the term “chick” “not offensive”. Even if it isn’t, it is worth at least questioning what the connotation of the term is, and why society has accepted it into mainstream vocabulary.