Dog Terms: Procrastinating Author Goes To The Dogs

My new book, You're My Dawg, Dog: A Lexicon of Dog Terms for People ($12.95, Welcome Books), is more good news for my fellow procrastinators.

As John Perry explained in his guilt-relieving guide to avoiding work, the key is to do something productive while not doing what you're supposed to be doing, an important skill in this dog-eat-dog world.

Of course, like all right action, it's easier done in contemplation. You're My Dawg only happened after there wasn't any more laundry to do, I couldn't stand looking at my beaten up investments one more time, had forbidden myself the Internet, and I realized the people I wanted to waste time with on the phone have lives. What I was so diligently not doing was completing my now-finished new novel, Corrupted Humours. During the dog days I started taking long walks in the woods where it was cooler and where I could pretend I was working out issues of plot and character, and usually ended up thinking about neglected chores or my bad investments, but one day started making lists of dog terms in my head.

A number of my walks were with a friend and Stella Pusateri, a black lab who was to chasing sticks what Lance Armstrong was to cycling--although I hasten to add that Stella never used anything stronger than those disgusting pigs' ears and bacon-flavored treats--so maybe she was my muse. There were lots of other people with dogs around as well. Whatever the inspiration, I seized on it like a dog with a bone, doggedly asked everyone I knew for suggestions, and of course went to dictionaries and trolled the Internet. In the process I dug up not only dog-eared expressions like 'raining cats and dogs,' 'let sleeping dogs lie' (first use credited to Chaucer in 1380), and 'love me, love my dog' (St. Bernard's 12th century aphorism), but modern coinages like 'big dog,' 'horn dog,' and 'bird dog.'

Next thing I knew I had a book, and lucky dog that I am, J.C. Suarès, whose drawings have graced the pages of The New Yorker, New York Times, Variety, and dozens of books, agreed to illustrate it. His charming and quirky art is at least half the pleasure of You're My Dawg. Please check out some excerpts below, and click here for a one-minute animated trailer.

© 2013 Donald Friedman. Illustrations © 2013 J.C. Suarès.

15 Dog-related Terms