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Jul 19, 2004
This week's theme
Animal terms

This week's words
running dog
Kilkenny cats
stool pigeon
charley horse
guinea pig

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with Anu Garg

A few months back we added a dog to our family. Our daughter Ananya had been asking for one for a long time and finally we got her a puppy from the local animal shelter. Ananya has named her Flower.

She's Ananya's dog but I get to care for her - feed her, pick up after her, walk her. I mostly enjoy it, especially the morning walks. Flower loves to chase cars. I have to be careful she doesn't go under the wheels of a passing car or we'd be deflowered.

Clearly, the dog needs training. We took her to a Puppy Kindergarten class. We learned that the class really trains the humans, not the dogs. For example, the instructor told us that you have to let the dog know that you're the leader of the pack so she follows your commands. I'm not sure how well the leadership lesson goes on the dog when she can see that I have to pick up after her rather than the other way.

When I'm not feeding the dog, cleaning her bowl, and taking her to the vet, I explore words and write about them. Maybe some day when I feel like sleeping late, Flower can fill in for me. You know, on the Internet nobody knows you're a dog. In the meantime, enjoy this week's expressions originating in pet animals.

running dog

(RUN-ing dog)

noun: A servile follower; lackey.

From Chinese zougou, from zou (running) + gou (dog), apparently as an allusion to a dog running to follow his or her master's commands. This term was employed in Chinese Communist terminology to refer to someone who was considered subservient to counter-revolutionary interest. Earliest documented use: 1925.

"We're playing lickspittle running dog to the most tired ideas, and they weren't even ours in the first place."
Zoe Williams; Ditch These Lickspittle Cliches; The Guardian (London, UK); Aug 13, 2002.

"The running dogs will scratch their master's back and he scratches the bootlickers', but normally he soothes them with money."
Abdullah Ahmad; Get Rid of the Running Dogs; New Straits Times (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia); Apr 25, 2001.

Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing the ground. -Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, editor and orator (1817-1895)

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