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California State Lotter Logo
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dog's chance. A very slim chance, indeed.

Dogs' relationships with fortune—good and ill—are mixed. A lucky dog is genuinely lucky, but a dog's chance is a poor one. Why would a dog's chances be poor? Perhaps this is related to living a dog's life, which, despite the relative pamperedness of pets, is considered miserable. Or maybe it is simply that dogs, as the subordinate species, will always come out on the bottom: subordinate, never really the top dog in human society. No doubt the slenderness of a dog's chances makes the good fortunes of the lucky dog all the more impressive. To be a lucky dog you have to really beat the odds.

The term may be a shortening of the expression “A dog's chance in Hell.” Anthropologist Stephen R. Potter commented on the fate of a Civil War soldier whose remains he was trying to identify: “If you are a member of the color guard, you are likely to be a target. He was no fool. He knew, to borrow a Southern phrase, he didn't stand a dog's chance in hell.”reference 1

1. New York Times Editorial Board. 1994. Unmarked Graves Give a Glimpse into a Civil War Soldier's Life. New York Times, Sep 16, A16.

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About the illustration: This is the logo for the California State Lottery, which you do indeed have a dog's chance of winning. Just about any other opportunity you have to bet your money, legal or illegal, offers a better chance to win. Government lotteries could be considered a taxation system for those who cannot do math.
cf: lucky dog Last updated: July 5, 2008
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