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Man's best friend

The English are well-known for their love of animals. This affection can at times be excessive; indeed the English are often thought to care more for their animals than their children! The dog is perhaps the most typical English pet.

The relationship between human and dog dates back at least 8,000 years. Different types of dogs were developed for different tasks: the Assyrians, for example, trained greyhounds to chase wild asses; in medieval manuscripts illustrations of hunting scenes show terriers pursuing rabbits.

Recent research shows that dogs perform another useful function: they keep us healthy. People who have any sort of cuddly pet are more likely to survive heart attacks (blood pressure rises when we talk to one another whereas it drops when we pat a pet). Dog owners in particular show considerably improved self-esteem and a 50% reduction in minor health problems only ten months after acquiring their pet.

In the UK, thousands of people visit the annual dog show, "Crufts", held in London. This show receives wide national and international media coverage. Fierce discussions rage when dog liberty is threatened. There is no dog licence in the UK; it was abolished several years ago. A recent law, the Dangerous Dogs Act, requires owners of especially vicious dogs, such as Pit Bull Terriers, to register their dogs with the authorities and muzzle them when taking them outside. There was a great outcry from the public when this law was introduced.

The language of dogs

The English language, too, shows how large a part the dog plays in the English way of life. There are many colourful phrases and words related to dogs. Look at the examples below.

1. It is a ruthlessly competitive business; a real case of dog eat dog.
2. His first wife led him a dog's life. Since his divorce and remarriage he has become a different person; he's obviously happy and enjoying life to the full.
3. She was dogged by ill-health for many years. The doctors tried many treatments but none seemed to work.
4. My son borrowed my cassette player without my permission yesterday and broke it. He's now in the doghouse.
5. He is a dogged salesman. Thanks to his persistence we have built up sales in his region by 25% over the last year.
6. The accountant discovered some serious accounting errors when he visited the company. He decided to let sleeping dogs lie, at least until the Managing Director returned from holiday.
7. Since he was made redundant he has really gone to the dogs. He has started drinking heavily and stays indoors all day watching television. He has put on a lot of weight, too.
8. His secretary handed in her notice last week. She said that she was tired of being treated like a dogsbody and never given any real responsibility.

If you are not sure of the meaning of the words or phrases highlighted you can check them by pressing the "Meaning" button.

   


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