18 May 2015

A dog's life, or une vie de chien ?

If somebody says to you "it's a dog's life", what do you understand? Is the reference to a working dog that has to sleep outside, eat scraps, and work hard to earn its keep? Or is the dog in question a pampered pet who's got it made, living a cushy, carefree existence? Below, Callie is not unconscious, by the way. She's just lazing in the grass on a sunny afternoon (yesterday's).


Apparently, the meaning of the expression "a dog's life" has changed for many speakers of English. To past generations (and maybe to you too) "a dog's life" was not something desirable or pleasant. Other expressions, like "going to the dogs", being "dog tired", or "it's a dog-eat-dog world", point in that direction.


When I hear "it's a dog's life" I think it means a life you yourself would like to lead, easy and comfortable. In French, une vie de chien is a miserable existence. Un temps de chien is really lousy weather. Un mal de chien describes a person's exhausting efforts to solve intractable problems. Callie would probably be surprised to learn all this.

11 comments:

chm said...

In the old days, especially in rural areas, dogs were just a little more than pieces of furniture that you had to feed instead of waxing them. Nowadays, they are called animaux de compagnie!

Tim said...

" Callie would probably be surprised to learn all this."....
Callie would reply...
"Ken, my dear... I couldn't give a damn!!"

Susan said...

And yet there is a long history of the French (upper classes anyway) being dog lovers who cossetted their dogs and indulged them tremendously. Louis XI, a notorious miser, purchased a ruby and pearl encrusted collar for his favourite greyhound and it wore a coat because it felt the cold. Anne of Brittany was accompanied everywhere by a couple of whippets.

Leon Sims said...

Sunning your tummy can't be all that bad. Looks like Callie is enjoying your Spring as we hope you are.

Andrew said...

Dogs are just so adaptable. They accept a hard life with little complaint and still wag their tails if they receive a skerrick of affection , but with no more passion accept a good life. They are surely one of nature's great creations.

NotesFromAbroad said...

Let's just call it Callie's life :), une vie de Callie ... She is lovely .. I would not mind lolling in the grass and napping in the sunshine right now.

Seine Judeet (Judith) said...

haaaaa haaaa:)
Adorable photos of Callie :)

Evelyn said...

I love sunshine on my face just like your Callie does in the last photo (a good one!).

Cheryl said...

An interesting topics and some great comments. (Bow) wow!

TerryM said...

A fine dog!

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Lovely Callie has a very fine dog's life, indeed! Dog days of summer are certainly not pleasant, but dog roses are my favorite for their lovely fragrance, Rosa canina.