Best in Show! What’s Your Favorite Dog or Cat Saying?

Photo by Tischman Pet Photography, NY; Ricky and Lucy are available for adoption*

Photo by Tischman Pet Photography, NY; Ricky and Lucy are available for adoption*

My son is 6 years old, and I am smitten with him. What do I cherish most? ‘Tis a good question. Is it his super hero masquerades, his lengthy sword fights with imaginary friends, or his determination to ascend the staircase backwards? I’d be hard-pressed to pick one.

The other day, clad in his bright-orange tool belt, he determinedly helped me scope out our turn-of-the-century home (turn of the last century, that is) for creaky floorboards and loose hinges.

Spotting a doorknob and a cabinet drawer in need of his screwdriver, I suggested he “kill two birds with one stone” by using one tool to fix two problems.

My son’s face went pale. He has many boyhood fetishes, but ruthlessness is not among them.

“I don’t want to kill birds, Mommy.”

I offered a chirpy explanation of idioms and the foolishness of the English language. He did not grasp it.

“Why would you ever kill a bird with a stone?”

I tried to salvage my reputation. “Mommy would never kill a bird...” but after casting a sideward glance, he pulled out his tool and moved on.

Idioms, aka proverbs, have long infiltrated and colored our language, often confusing children and foreigners alike. But what of them? Many, still lodged in the agricultural age, are outdated and in need of some modernization. Here are a few popular phrases that belong to a different era.
• Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. When is the last time you saw a live chicken? 
• Hold your horses! Great advice for a rancher but hard to envision a city dweller bracing a herd. 
• A wild goose chase. The vision seems comical, but not too realistic.

As a parent and dog trainer I’m programmed to look at life from another’s perspective, and this time my impulses took a refreshing turn. With idiom dictionaries in hand, I scrolled through and took a look at the origin and meanings of idioms that evolved from our relationship with dogs and cats. It’s been a delightful romp!

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