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The Canine in Conversation
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illustration of a dog labelled 'terror' and a girl labelled 'civilized humanity'
figure 1  


rabid dog. To the usual negative connotations of the word dog, add the following characteristics: raging; uncontrollable; extremely zealous or enthusiastic; fanatical.reference 1

It's quite a potent mix and often appears in political commentary. There is even an anonymous online conservative columnist who calls him or herself the “Rabid Dog.” For instance, in 2003, Daily News columnist Stanley Crouch asks if we in the U.S. “will allow ourselves to be defined merely as a rabid big dog” during what he describes as a period of international political turmoil.reference 2 He contrasts the rabid dog with his image of a true top dog.

1. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth. 2000. Accessed from http://

2. Crouch, Stanley. 2003. Being Top Dog Requires Bark, Bite & Brains. New York Daily News, Apr 14. Accessed Apr 18 2008 from http:// archives/ opinions/ 2003/ 04/ 14/ 2003-04-14_ being_top_ dog_requires _bark_.html.

About the illustration: This is a reduced version of a “royalty free illustration” from This is an excellent example of the use (or abuse) of this image in political rhetoric. It specifically depicts the Palestinian Authority as a rabid dog (the title of the image) threatening “civilized humanity.” This site, apparently put together by a single individual, purports to “expose the truth about militant ‘Islam,’”reference 3 While the caption accompanying the image states that “It's probably not the dog's fault,” it would be difficult to draw any inference other than that the dog will be held responsible. It is interesting, if not surprising, to note that Civilized Humanity is embodied in a blonde—apparently Western—female. 3. Levinson, William A. 2003. Exposing Militant “Islam”. Accessed May 4 2003 from http://
cf: mad dog; bulldog; pit bull; junkyard dog Last updated: July 28, 2008
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