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The Canine in Conversation
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Illustration of a dog chasing a rabbit spacer
figure 1

 

let the dog see the rabbit. 1. Get out of the way; get out of the light; I can't see.reference 1 2. Let's get started.reference 2 3. Let the person whose job it is get on with it.reference 3

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spacer photograph of a pace rabbit at a dog track
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While numerous online sites suggest that the term is a hunting one, famed lexicographer Eric Partridge states that it is common among dog-track frequenters.reference 4 This makes sense since dog races typically use pace setters made to look like a rabbit or hare, more or less literally. The hare is attached to a mechanical slide on the rail of the track or to a moving vehicle.

Most of the actual usage I was able to uncover was British. Perhaps the most familiar source to U.S. readers will be Agatha Christie. In Peril at End House our hero Poirot wishes to see Nick's will and asks her for written authorization. She asks in return, “What shall I say? Let the dog see the rabbit?”reference 5

1. Partridge, Eric, and Paul Beale, ed. 1992. A Dictionary of Catch Phrases, American and British, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day. Rev. and updated ed. New York: Scarborough House. 191.

2. Ibid.

3. Stuart-Hamilton, Ian. 2007. An Asperger Dictionary of Everyday Expressions. 2nd ed. London ; Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 142.

4. Partridge.

5. Christie, Agatha. 1932. Peril at End House. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers; Distributed by Workman Pub. Co. 158

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About the illustrations: Figure 1 shows greyhounds chasing a fake rabbit on the track. © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation.

Figure 2 is an actual fake hare used at the start of dog races as an initial pace setter. The image was found on the photo blog Funkypancake: an eye for the mundane. Permission pending.

see also: hound dog mile Last updated: February 20, 2010
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