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The Canine in Conversation
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why keep a dog and bark yourself? var. You don't keep a dog and bark yourself. 1. If you've hired someone to do a job for you, let them do it.reference 1 2. There is no point in surrounding yourself with smart people if you're not going to listen to them.reference 2

MIke Darton offers us an origin story: Once upon a time wealthy middle-class social-climbers were finding it embarrassingly difficult to delegate household takss to their new servants.reference 3 The source is unnamed and the timeframe is vague, though one presumes it refers to some past era of economic expansion during which the middle class still employed household servants rather than hiring cleaning services.

For many years I have resisted including this “adage” in The Caine in Converstation. It strikes me as so cumbersome as to make it higly unliklely that even the most pompous would make use of it, he said pompously. It's not that it doesn't have a good pedigree, it's even in the Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs.reference 4 I even found a reference in a work of children's fiction.reference 5

I guess I just don't like it.

1. Stuart-Hamilton, Ian. 2007. An Asperger Dictionary of Everyday Expressions. 2nd ed. London; Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 255.

2. Sturgeon, Ron, and Gahan Wilson. 2005. Green Weenies and Due Diligence: Insider Business Jargon-- Raw, Serious and Sometimes Funny Business and Deal Terms from an Entrepreneur's Diary That You Won't Get from School or a Dictionary. 1st ed. Lynden, Wash.: M. French Pub. 68.

3. Darton, Mike. 2007. Dog the Wag. Avon, Mass.: F&W Publications Company. 91.

4. Speake, Jennifer, and J. A. Simpson. 2003. The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs. 4th ed. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

5. Sydney, Margaret. 2006. Twilight Stories. Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar, LLC. 67.

About the illustration: Figure 1, Oct '84” uploaded by Craige Moore, shows her as a small girl dressed in a dog costume cavorting with a puppy. Used under Creative Commons license. Used by permission.
see also: bark, bark like a dog Last updated: January 24, 2010
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