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The Canine in Conversation
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cartoon of a dog staring in puzzlement at a man's legs protruding from a dog house, presumably the dog's home.
figure 1  

 

dog house, in the. In disfavor or trouble; shamed.

Being in the dog house is sort of an adult version of being sent to one's room, though less literal. Being in the doghouse is typically what happens to a husband when his wife thinks ill of his behavior. The inference I draw is that the person who is in the doghouse has brought shame on the household and thus must be treated like, well, a dog. At best the man has not proven himself sufficiently “house trained.” More likely, the man has been a dog in the sense of being promiscuous. Even the couch is too good a bed for a man who is in the dog house. And, if he is smart, he is just glad he hasn't been kicked out altogether.

The offense need not be major, however, for this description to be applied. After the 2004 Iowa caucuses, the New York Times wrote of a rift within a married couple, one of whom had defected from Howard Dean's camp when it turned out that he would not have enough supporters to warrant a delegate. “'I'm in the dog house,' Mr. Terrell said. 'He's driving,' Mrs. Terrell said. ‘I'm crying.’”reference 1 Nor is it only husbands who are metaphorically banished in this way. The Times Style section David Karp declared, “ …after decades in the doghouse, old-fashioned rhubarb is in style again.”reference 2

While there has been some attribution to Mr. Darling in J.M. Barrie's play, Peter Pan, others dispute the claim.reference 3 Darling indeed took to the dog house waiting for his children to return, however there is no indication that he was in particular disfavor at the time.

1. Lyman, Rick. 2004. At One Caucus, Sorting out Rules and Brokering Deals. New York Times, Jan 20, A16.

2. Karp, David. 2004. Puckering up for Rhubarb's Tart Kiss. New York Times, Jun 2. Accessed Apr 18 2008 from http:// query.nytimes. com/ gst/ fullpage.html?res= 9A03E5DF1731F931 A35755C0A9629C8B63 &sec= &spon= &pagewanted= all.

3. Doulton, Melanie. 1999. A Doggone Fool. M. Doulton, ed. A Word With You. Accessed Apr 1 2002 from http:// www.wordwithyou. com/ archives/ Archive_a-z.htm.

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About the illustration: In Figure 1 we see a man's shod feet protruding from a dog house, the classic z's denoting the fact that he is asleep. It appears that the dog is annoyed to find his dwelling otherwise occupied. © 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation.  
see also: dog (man); house trained; doghouse Last updated: July 5, 2008
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