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WORDS AND THEIR STORIES - What a Dog's Life!

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Now, the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories.

Dogs are probably the most popular pet in the United States. Although, many cat owners may not agree with that.

On this week's program, we hear a story about dog expressions. And to all of you cat lovers out there – we will have a show for you soon!

Now, let's hear Faith Lapidus talk about dogs in the English language.

A Komondor relaxes during the second day of the Crufts Dog Show in Birmingham, Britain, March 8, 2019.
A Komondor relaxes during the second day of the Crufts Dog Show in Birmingham, Britain, March 8, 2019.

People in the United States love their dogs and treat them well. They take their dogs for walks, let them play outside and give them good food and medical care.

However, dogs without owners to care for them lead a different kind of life. The expression 'to lead a dog's life' describes a person who has an unhappy existence.

Some people say we live in a 'dog-eat-dog world.' That means many people are competing for the same things, like good jobs. They say that to be successful, a person has to 'work like a dog.' This means they have to work very, very hard. Such hard work can make people 'dog-tired.' And the situation would be even worse if they became 'sick as a dog.'

FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2017, file photo, Rumor, a German shepherd, poses for photos after winning Best in Show at the 141st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, in New York.
FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2017, file photo, Rumor, a German shepherd, poses for photos after winning Best in Show at the 141st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, in New York.

Still, people say 'every dog has its day.' This means that every person enjoys a successful period during his or her life. To be successful, people often have to learn new skills. Yet, some people say that 'you can never teach an old dog new tricks.' They believe that older people do not like to learn new things and will not change the way they do things.

Some people are compared to dogs in bad ways. People who are unkind or uncaring can be described as 'meaner than a junkyard dog.' Junkyard dogs live in places where people throw away things they do not want. Mean dogs are often used to guard this property. They bark or attack people who try to enter the property. However, sometimes a person who appears to be mean and threatening is really not so bad. We say 'his bark is worse than his bite.'

Bichons Frises gather in the judging ring during the Daytime Session in the Breed Judging across the Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding groups at the 143rd Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Pier 92/94 in New York City on February 11, 2019.
Bichons Frises gather in the judging ring during the Daytime Session in the Breed Judging across the Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding groups at the 143rd Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Pier 92/94 in New York City on February 11, 2019.

A junkyard is not a fun place for a dog. Many dogs in the United States sleep in safe little houses near their owners' home. These doghouses provide shelter. Yet they can be cold and lonely in the winter.

Husbands and wives use this doghouse term when they are angry at each other. For example, a woman might get angry at her husband for coming home late, or forgetting their wedding anniversary. She might tell him that he is 'in the doghouse.' She may not treat him nicely until he apologizes. However, the husband may decide that it is best to leave things alone and not create more problems. He might decide to 'let sleeping dogs lie.'

Dog expressions also are used to describe the weather. The 'dog days of summer' are the hottest days of the year. A rainstorm may cool the weather, but we do not want it to rain too hard -- we do not want it to' rain cats and dogs.'

You ain't nothing but a hound dog. You're crying all the time...

And that brings us to the end of this Words and Their Stories. Until next time … I'm Anna Matteo.

You ain't never caught a rabbit and you ain't no friend of mine!

Jill Moss wrote this story. Faith Lapidus narrated it. And the song at the end is Elvis Presley singing "Hound Dog."

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