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The Canine in Conversation
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figure 1


there's life in the old dog yet. Even though someone is old, don't underestimate them, they still have sufficient energy to get done what needs to be done. Don't count that person (or company, agency, etc.) out.reference 1

The phrase carries in it the assumption that there is something about the dog in question that might suggest that it is too old, outdated or obsolescent to play a significant role. In the case of an individual human having the physical signs of age such as lack of energy, strength, health, or just plain get-up-and-go. When it comes to a corporation or a product we may have to rely on collective perceptions. That may sound abstract, but when you come across an example, the application is obvious. So when a business analyst is quoted in the New York Times as saying There is no question that AIM is a real network There's life in the old dog yet reference 2 we get it.

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spacer image of Ronnie Drew's album cover
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There's Life in the Old Dog Yet is also the title of an album by Irish folk musician Ronnie Drew. According to an undocumented claim in Wikipedia, Drew recorded this album of songs about growing old shortly before being diagnosed with throat cancer in 2006. Talk about irony, and apparently he did so on The Late Late Show.reference 3

1. Cambridge University Press. 2006. Cambridge Idioms Dictionary. 2nd ed. Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press.

2. Hansell, Saul, and John Markoff. 2006. Aol to Add Free Phone to Instant Messaging Feature. New York Times, May 5. Accessed Aug 29 2009 from http:// 2006/ 05/05/ technology /05iht-web.0505 phone.html.

3. Wikipedia contributors. Mar 12 2009. There's Life in the Old Dog Yet. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Accessed Aug 29 2009 from http:// wiki/ There%27s _Life_in _the_Old _Dog_Yet.


About the illustrations: Figure 1 is a poster from World War I depicting the British Bulldog apparently having demolished the German menace so thoroughly that all that is left are some specs, boots, a helmet, and a medal. The image is for sale as a poster at The original image is in the public domain.

Figure 2 is a version of the cover of Ronnie Drew's album. The copyright for this image is most likely owned by either the publisher or the creator of the work depicted. I believe that the use of scaled-down, low-resolution images of album covers to provide critical commentary on the album qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law.

see also: old dogs will not learn new tricks; like an old dog Last updated: August 29, 2009
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