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The Canine in Conversation
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an illustratoin of a dog kneeling with a guiding hand gesturing him down, accompanied by the word 'down'
figure 1  


down; down boy! Back off, don't get too frisky, said to a male by a female.

The reference is broad and blatant as the title of A Girl's Guide to Housebreaking a Man.reference 1 The more specific usage is evident in Strip Jack; Ian Rankin's fictional detective, John Rebus reaches out for his female companion, Patience Aitken. “She narrowed her eyes. ‘Down boy,’ she said. Then before he could make a grab for her again, she fled from the bathroom.”reference 2

illustration of a woman holding a clip board looking through her glasses at the viewer
figure 2  


down boy! (polling) In Spot the Spin, Alan Kay defines this as a term for a polling strategy to discourage knee-jerk responses. “When required to ask questions on issues with any depth and complexity, especially if the issue is highly controversial because a highly contested vote will likely be in the headlines when their latest findings will be released [pollsters] add an additional response: ‘—or don't you know enough to say?’” The effect is to say, “Down boy.”reference 3



1. Hamilton, Lisa. 2004. Down Boy! A Girl's Guide to Housebreaking a Man. Kansas City, Mo.: Andrews McNeel Pub.

2. Rankin, Ian. 1994. Strip Jack. 1st U.S. ed. New York: St. Martin's Press . 46.

3. Kay, Alan F. 2004. Spot the Spin: The Fun Way to Democracy Alive & Elections Honest. Victoria, B.C. Canada: Trafford Publishing. 61-2.
About the illustration: Figure 1 is from the Ralston Purina's classic text on dog training.reference 4 Figure 2 is one of those sneaky pollsters. © 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation. 4. Ralston Purina Company. 1941. Dog Etiquette. St. Louis, Mo.: The Ralston Purina Co.
see also: heel, fetch! Last updated: March 11, 2008
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