Among people who work with dogs for a living, it is not unusual to use familiar expressions with a slight dog twist. For example, we might say, “I’ll cross my paws for you,” if someone is hoping to get an offer accepted on a house or if they are waiting for news from a medical test. On the “paw” theme, a response to someone’s request to meet with me just as I have arrived in the office might be, “Sure, let’s talk. Just give me a few minutes to get my paws on the ground.” This is not said with any attempt to be amusing or to make a point. It’s just a way to convey information in an understandable way.
Besides modifying common phrases, the behavior of dogs, which we all understand, allows for descriptions of people and situations with a kind of shorthand. For example, years ago a friend of mine was dating a man named Scott who gave her a gift that didn’t quite suit her and helped her to realize that HE didn’t quite suit her. It was a jacket that said “Scott’s girlfriend.” When she told me, “I’m surprised he didn’t just lift his leg and pee on me,” it was just another way to express that she found him to be too possessive.
What expressions do you use among your doggy friends and colleagues that you might not use with the population at large?
Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral problems, including aggression. She is the author of five books on canine training and behavior.