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The Canine in Conversation
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a cartoon drawing of a soldier peeling potatoes a cartoon drawing of a soldier goldbricking, i.e., not working  
figure 1
figure 2

lazy as a dog. Very lazy.

Dogs are lazy; dogs work hard when forced, or at least they appear to work hard, but actually dog it much of the time. All the while, they are man's best friend.

The work habits of dogs appear to be a matter of some controversy, or at least they are perceived in multiple ways. This simile is not as popular as its companion simile “work like a dog;” the latter is perhaps ironic in light of dogs' perceived laziness.

Even though Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren classified this phrase as “badly shopworn but...still recognizably a metaphor...” in 1961, it has yet to die off.



1. Brooks, Cleanth, and Robert Penn Warren. 1961. Modern Rhetoric. Shorter ed. New York: Harcourt Brace & World.

About the illustrations: Figure 2 shows Sad Sack, the archetypal World War II slacker soldier, who was portrayed as ever lazy, or just very efficient, depending upon your view. Figure 1 shows his unfortunate mate, who is actually performing Sad Sack's assigned task. Perhaps he is working like a dog, perhaps he is dogging it. Sergeant George Baker drew a panel cartoon of the draftee. © 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation.
see also: dogging it; drag one's tail; The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog
cf: work like a dog
Last updated: July 24, 2008
by Alec MacLeod 2001-2008  Dogmatic Technologies Oakland Creative Commons unless otherwise expressly stated, all original material of whatever nature created by Alec MacLeod and included in The Canine in Conversation and any related pages, is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Please read the Terms of Use Agreement by Alec MacLeod Dogmatic Technologies