November 22, 2014 23:37 UTC

Words and Their Stories

'What a Dog's Life!'

Every dog has its day
Every dog has its day

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story
Dog Talk
Dog Talki
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X


Now the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.

Americans use many expressions with the word "dog." People in the United States love their dogs and treat them well. They take their dogs for walks, let them play outside and give them good food and medical care. However, dogs without owners to care for them lead a different kind of life. The expression "to lead a dog's life" describes a person who has an unhappy existence.

Some people say we live in a "dog-eat-dog world." That means many people are competing for the same things, like good jobs. They say that to be successful, a person has to "work like a dog." This means they have to work very, very hard. Such hard work can make people "dog-tired." And the situation would be even worse if they became "sick as a dog."

Still, people say "every dog has its day." This means that every person enjoys a successful period during his or her life. To be successful, people often have to learn new skills. Yet, some people say that "you can never teach an old dog new tricks." They believe that older people do not like to learn new things and will not change the way they do things.

Some people are compared to dogs in bad ways. People who are unkind or uncaring can be described as "meaner than a junkyard dog." Junkyard dogs live in places where people throw away things they do not want. Mean dogs are often used to guard this property. They bark or attack people who try to enter the property. However, sometimes a person who appears to be mean and threatening is really not so bad. We say "his bark is worse than his bite."

A junkyard is not a fun place for a dog. Many dogs in the United States sleep in safe little houses near their owners' home. These doghouses provide shelter. Yet they can be cold and lonely in the winter. Husbands and wives use this doghouse term when they are angry at each other. For example, a woman might get angry at her husband for coming home late, or forgetting their wedding anniversary. She might tell him that he is "in the doghouse." She may not treat him nicely until he apologizes. However, the husband may decide that it is best to leave things alone and not create more problems. He might decide to "let sleeping dogs lie."

Dog expressions also are used to describe the weather. The "dog days of summer" are the hottest days of the year. A rainstorm may cool the weather, but we do not want it to rain too hard -- we do not want it to "rain cats and dogs."

This VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories was written by Jill Moss.

I'm Faith Lapidus.
 
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: BIJU.P.Y from: SOUTH INDIA
06/23/2014 12:32 AM
All the dog expressions described here are very nice and can be put in to practice in day to day life. Dogs are man's most faithful companions. But no man can entertain a 'mad dog'. The expression 'dog tired' is a very common thing that can be seen in most villages often times. A dog comes to unmanageable rest after engaging in a lot of misbehaviors and exertions and wandering and bitch chasing. 'Leading a dog's life' also portrays in mind the real picture of a wretched person who has lost control of himself. I think you will be back with many more colorful expressions. Thank you.


by: Enrique from: Spain
06/22/2014 1:13 PM
Wow, I did not know that Americans had so many expressions with the word dog. I knew some of them, such as 'to rain cats and dogs' or the one that my English teacher taught us ( 'as crooked as a dog's hind leg,' that, if I remember well, means 'dishonest') but I could have never imagined there would be so many!
The one I liked best is 'every dog has its day,' because I think it's a very optimistic one, and I feel what it states is completely true.
In Spanish we also have some expressions with the word dog. One that I think is very funny is 'to be stranger than a green dog'. And we have one that is quite similar to 'his bark is worse than his bite.'
Thank you very much for this information! It was really interesting.


by: emir from: turkey
06/22/2014 11:04 AM
I agree with everything that this text says about using terms related to dogs. In my country is used similar expressions, too. For example, when we are in love with someone very much. we say that "I am in love with her/him like a dog". This means that "I love her/him so much that i might die without him/her". Another example is that when we have to ask permission from anyone for having something we want very much, so we insist to have that thing. This situation is interpreted that "to beg like a dog".

Learn with The News

  • Brazil Religion in Latin America

    Audio Latin America Catholics Converting to Protestants

    Almost 40 percent of the world’s Catholic population, or about 425 million people, lives in Latin America. But a recent study from the Pew Research Center says people in Latin America have increasingly lost faith in the Catholic Church. Membership has decreased as much as 20 percent. More

  • Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) stretches to shake hands with China's President Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, November 7, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Lee/POOL

    Audio Cambodian Opposition Criticize Dependence on Chinese Aid

    China’s government recently promised more than $500 million in aid to Cambodia. Cambodian officials say they need about $1 billion in foreign aid each year to operate the government. Cambodian opposition members are worried about the country becoming too dependent on aid money from China. More

  • This undated handout image provided by Science and the University of Tokyo shows infectious particles of the avian H7N9 virus emerging from a cell.

    Audio What's the Matter?

    From the very big to the very small, everything in our universe is made up of matter. Matter is one of those very hardworking words that you need to master ... no matter what. We will get you to the hear of the matter with this Words and Their Stories. More

  • Obama Immigration

    Video Republicans Promise to Fight Obama on Immigration

    Republican Party lawmakers are promising to fight President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration. The order protects millions of people who have been living in the United States illegally. The president’s announcement immediately angered Republicans in the U.S. Congress. More

  • A worker at state-owned Pertamina, the country's main retailer of subsidised fuel, fills a vehicle at a petrol station in Jakarta November 17, 2014. Indonesia's president raised the price of subsidised gasoline and diesel by more than 30 percent on Monday

    Audio Indonesians Protest Rising Fuel Prices

    Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced the government would cut the financial support on fuel. The move led to a 30 percent increase in fuel overnight. These rising prices have led some public transportation groups to go on strike. The government has had to prepare other forms of transportation. More

Featured Stories

  • Jonathan Evans Performs with Bonerama

    Video With Bonerama, Three Trombones Lead the Big Parade

    The New Orleans-based group brings together funk, rock, blues and jazz, creating a gumbo for the ears. Bonerama has horns like many bands. But, unlike most groups, the trombone players lead this band. Reporter Jonathan Evans performed with the band and wrote about it for American Mosaic. More

  • A line from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is displayed at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

    Audio Lincoln's Words at Gettysburg Still Have Meaning

    On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln said no one would remember his speech at a battlefield cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. But Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address remains one of the most important speeches in U.S. history. More

  • PLASTIC DREAMS

    Audio Surgery Safaris: Looking for the Perfect Body

    Many people these days are going as far as South Africa to get their version of perfection. People from across Africa and the world come for so-called “surgery safaris.” There are no animals to see on these safaris. The visitors instead look for smaller stomachs, firmer bottoms or perhaps new eye. More

  • Video South Korea Attempting to Reuse More E-Waste

    South Korea is dealing with increasing amounts of waste from electronic devices. These useless or unwanted parts are often called “e-waste.” . The city of Seoul throws out about 10 tons of e-waste each year. Some local governments in South Korea are creating special "e-waste" recycling programs. More

  • FILE - Brittany Maynard, shown with her Great Dane puppy, Charlie, took a lethal dose of medication prescribed by a doctor in Oregon on Saturday. Maynard was battling brain cancer.

    Video Should You Have the Right to Die?

    The recent case of a 29 year old woman with brain cancer has again raised questions about the right to die. Americans are divided on whether doctors should be able to give deathly sick patients drugs to end their lives. Only four U.S states permit doctor, or physician, assisted suicide. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs