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