Meet my dog, Cauchy. I’ve noticed that if I put a picture of him on Facebook, the post has far more reach than anything I put about my published books, or work in progress. I wonder if he will have the same impact on my blog viewing numbers! Anyway, here are a few photos of him.
Dogs are known as ‘man’s best friend,’ although some cat owners might dispute this (others will claim proudly that they don’t own their cat, it’s more like the other way round, when the cat can be bothered). But Cauchy is certainly a good companion. He gets me out in the fresh air, understands my moods and provides an excuse for conversations with complete strangers. So much so that when my husband takes him out on his own, he refers to him as his ‘babe magnet.’ Hmm.
Dogs have had an impact on our language too. Sometimes this is direct, as the link with a real dog is plain to see: a ‘dog-leg’ on a piece of furniture, a ‘dog-eared’ book, a ‘dog collar’ on the vicar, ‘dog house’ – literally a kennel, but also where you feel you’ve been sent for some supposed indiscretion), ‘dog paddle’ – the only swimming stroke a dog / or early learning swimmer can do ….
For some words the link is still pretty obvious, but more descriptive – to lie ‘doggo’ (go into hiding), ‘dog fight’ for an air battle between two planes, ‘dog in a manger’ (being unreasonable about something), ‘dogged’ – single-minded /obstinate, ‘dogs body’ – the one who’s doing all the menial work and hence feels ‘dog tired’ at the end of the day.
Some uses of dog as an adjective etc are less clear: ‘dog end’ for a cigarette butt, ‘dog eat dog’ for a tough competitive business environment. Sometimes a phrase can mean opposite things, depending on context. ‘Like a dog’s dinner’ can refer to something being a mess, or to someone very smartly dressed (?!) ‘A dog’s life’ can be wretched or, for some owners, viewing their pet relaxing contentedly on the sofa after a tasty meal they didn’t have to cook for themselves, something to envy.
Some phrases need more explanation. ‘Dog days,’ for hot weather, is an allusion to the dog-star Sirius, that was noted in ancient times to be dominant in high summer. For UK English speakers the US term ‘put on the dog’ needs translating as ‘all dressed up’. As does the Australian ‘ dog tied up’ for an unpaid bill (usually at a public house).
Finally some related terms: most people can understand ‘puppy love’ – just think of those adorable and adoring eyes of a young pup following you around. And ‘terrier deaf’ when you try to stop your dog rolling in fox poo, but he can’t hear you scream ‘NO!!!’ Funny how he can hear the word ‘dinner’ when you get back home, even if you only whisper it from a different room.
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