The expression, ‘it’s a dog’s life’, originated in the sixteenth century in a time when dogs were kept as watchdogs or hunting animals. They often weren’t allowed in the house, but were kept in kennels, fed scraps, worked hard, and often died young. So going to the dogs, dog tired, to die like a dog, dog’s dinner, dogsbody, dog eat dog, and a dog’s life were situations to avoid. Now in twenty-first century Britain, the above treatment of a dog would seem cruel and neglectful.
I love words and the way our language develops and changes over time and I think this expression is certainly rapidly evolving, accelerated by the pandemic.
I am sure you all remember that during Lockdown I filmed my assemblies with a trusty, faithful assistant, Domino, my cocker spaniel. Recently several people have asked me if he’s ok and have remarked how much they enjoyed seeing him on the screen. I am delighted to say Domino is very fit and well and still the fluffy, affectionate dog we know and love.
I certainly believe that Domino’s life is rather good. He enjoys daily beach walks, trips to the New Forest, constant fresh water, regular meals, a warm home, comfy bed and a sofa with a snuggly blanket where he can laze around.
So what is a dog’s life? In essence a dog needs shelter, warmth, nourishment, mental stimulation, physical exercise and very importantly, affection; in fact what each one of us needs too. So is it a dog’s life? I hope so!