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The Canine in Conversation
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photograph of a girl and a dog rubbing noses
figure 1  

 

rub one's nose in it. To call one's attention to a mistake or blunder he or she has committed in a forceful or unkindly manner. There is definitely an element of humiliation involved in having one's nose rubbed in something.

In 2004 chief Bush political adviser, Karl Rove was reminded that in 2000 he had predicted that his candidate would easily beat Al Gore in the Electoral College when in fact it turned out to be the closest presidential contest in history. As the election for Bush's second term came to a close he was more certain that his man would beat Kerry, so it was probably relatively easy to reply, “Rub my nose in it” with a smile.reference 1

 

 

1. Bumiller, Elisabeth. 2004. Entering the Homestretch with a Smile. New York Times, Nov 1. Accessed Mar 28 2008 from http:// www.nytimes.com/ 2004/ 11/ 01/ politics/ campaign/ 01letter.html.

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illustration of a dog being forced to put his nose in a pool of liquid spacer
figure 2
The reference is to the unfortunate presumption that the way to “house train” a puppy is to rub its nose in urine relieved of inside the house. As Martin Deeley and Pat Trichter note in their essay, “A New Puppy: The Beginning Of A Relationship,” what a pup learns from this is “that hands grab when you don't want them to, that humans disturb and irritate you when you are not in the mood... It also learns that it is not pleasant to urinate when people are around (even in the yard!) or if you do, hide so they cannot see you doing it.”reference 2

2. Deeley, Martin, and Pat Trichter. 1998. A New Puppy: The Beginning of a Relationship. Dr. P's Dog Training. Mark Plonsky. Psychology Dept. University of Wisconsin. Accessed Jan 12 2005 from http://www.uwsp.edu/ psych/dog/LA/ deeley4.htm.

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About the illustrations: Figure 1 shows a girl rubbing noses with her puppy, courtesy of ArtToday.

As for Figure 2, don't try this at home. In fact don't try it at all. This is an ineffective way to house train a puppy. The image is collaged from illustrations found in the book Dog Etiquette published by the Ralston Purina Company.reference 3 © 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation.

3. Ralston Purina Company. 1941. Dog Etiquette. St. Louis, Mo.: The Ralston Purina Co.

see also: house train; sniff out

Last updated: February 23, 2009
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