Working like a dog has gone to the dogs

Thom explores the history of doggy idioms

For Your Consideration

Whoever coined the phrase “working like a dog” obviously never met my dog.

It’s not that Lady MacBeth doesn’t like to be helpful by chasing Canada geese, clearing stray strips of bacon off the countertop and the like, but, honestly most of the time she’s quite content to sleep or just lie around.

In fact, while there may have been a time when most dogs were working animals, that time has long passed and the majority of our canine friends are now more pampered pets than diligent helpers.

It’s funny how idioms like this, once inculcated into the lexicon are so persistent even when they may not be so applicable anymore.

And there are probably more dog idioms than any other, perhaps owing to the long history we have enjoyed with them at our sides.

Sometimes the phrases take on new meanings altogether.

‘Gone to the dogs, ‘for example, is one that we all take to mean that a situation has deteriorated as in “this neighbourhood has really gone to the dogs.”

LAST WEEK: A big thumbs up for Sons of Anarchy

However, it most likely had a much more specific meaning originally.

Apparently, it was a reference to gambling away one’s paycheque on greyhound racing. The money thus has gone to the dogs.

Others don’t really make much sense, except that we all agree to their meaning.

It’s a dog eat dog world, for example, doesn’t really jive with dog behaviour.

The ruthless, backstabbing behaviour it refers to is really more a human trait. Dogs are pack animals.

Some simply aren’t true. You certainly can teach an old dog new tricks, it just takes patience, repetition and lots of treats, just like it does for a puppy.


Social Media Lapse a good lesson to just let things go

We’re all a little quirky, embrace it

There are certainly advantages to getting it done when they are puppies, though, because once ingrained it saves us the trouble of doing it later.

That one is also not applicable to the humans we are referencing when we say it.

We are absolutely capable of lifelong learning and changing our behaviour, overcoming addictions etc. Most of the time it’s just that we don’t want to.

Getting back to The Bug, another one that definitely doesn’t work (and probably doesn’t for most dogs) is the old ‘her bark is worse than her bite.’

Of course, when people use this phrase, what they’re trying to say is ‘don’t worry, my dog is not going to bite you.’

As someone who has been (inadvertently) bitten (that’ll teach me to try to break up a dog fight) I can definitely attest her bite is worse than her bark.

Generally speaking, dogs have powerful jaws and sharp teeth. A barking dog may be more prone to accepting belly rubs than biting, but if they were to bite for some reason, it’s safe to say it’s going to be worse.

I will end with ‘doggy bag.’ We all know people are not taking home food from the restaurant for the dog, they’re taking it home for themselves. Perhaps there was a time when there was a stigma to it, but that seems to have been lost.

Personally, I never used to take a doggy bag because I knew the leftovers would just sit in my fridge until I threw them out.

Now that I have the lovely Lady, though, I have revisited that policy. And she is very grateful for that.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Who is or may be running in Stikine in the provincial election

Cullen nomination sparks controversy over NDP equity policy

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

Witset releases COVID-19 strategy following three confirmed cases

Plan implements strict measures to contain spread of the virus

Meet the 10-year-old girl who grew a pineapple in northern B.C.

Emily Atkins discovers it takes a lot of patience to grow tropical fruit in a temperate climate

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Most Read