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The Canine in Conversation
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a cartoon of Sad Sack ignoring a fight taking place in the foreground
 

 

don't have a dog in this fight. An old Southern expression meaning, in essence, that you don't care about the outcome of a situation.reference 1

Maureen Dowd named this as a common maxim in Washington.reference 2 The usage is flexible and can be as easily understood in the inverse. In acknowledging that she did indeed care about the outcome of a study of inquiries by law enforcement into the habits of library users, American Library Association Executive Director Emily Sheketoff said, “Sure, we have a dog in this fight...these findings say that we do have reason to be concerned.”reference 3 In a variation on the theme, Leslie McCarthy, a public affairs officer responsible for NASA's Goddard Institute, used a less pugilistic form in defending climate expert James E. Hansen: “Why am I going to go out of my way to make this up and back up Jim Hansen? I don't have a dog in this race.”reference 4

 

1. Hobbs, M.A. Underwood. 1999. Pure Doggerel. White Star Farm,. Accessed Oct 21 2001 from http:// meanwhilebackatthefarm.com/ doghouse/ puredoggerel.htm.

2. Dowd, Maureen. 2002. Attack of the Calico Clones. New York Times, Feb 17, 11.

3. Lichtblau, Eric. 2005. Libraries Say Yes, Officials Do Quiz Them About Users. New York Times, Jun 20, 11.

4. Revkin, Andrew C. 2006. Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him. New York Times, Jan 29, 1.
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About the illustration: A modified Sad Sack cartoon, original by Sgt. George Baker. © 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation.
see also: that dog won't hunt Last updated: March 11, 2008
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