In Reply to: My dogs are barking posted by Smokey Stover on January 12, 2009 at 05:43:
: : : Where did the phrase "my dogs are barking" come from?
: : Looks to me like the question is, how did dogs come to mean feet or shoes? Dogs - usually plural, a person's foot or feet, as in "shake one's dogs" meaning dance or "barking dogs." Citations from T.A. Dorgan, in N.Y. Eve. Jour., 1913: "Waitin' for my sore dog to heal up." And dogs as shoes, 1914: "He's been (shining) those old dogs for an hour now." Another citation: "A Marine never calls a foot anything but a dog. 1919, Ladies Home Journal, September. 1966, "My dogs are barking." 1966, "T. Pendleton," Iron Orchard. From "Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, A-G" by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994. Page 616.
: The Oxford English Dictionary indicaes that dogs as feet originated with rhyming slang:
: :14. pl. Short for dog's meat; feet. Rhyming slang."
: In the examples cited by the OED, which begin in 1924 (pace Dorgan, 1913), "dogs" are always feet, not shoes. In my youth (in rural America)I heard the phrase, "My dogs are barking," quite often, in the meaning "My feet are hurting."
: The OED describes many interesting uses of dog, such as dog and bone = telephone, in rhyming slang, and putting on the dog for dressing or otherwise roceeding with ostentation. It even includes what I always thought was college slang. When your blind date turns out to be a horror, or even just not to your taste, you say, "My date's a dog," or "She's a real dog."
To back up the excellent answers above, you may be amused by this extract from the Wikipedia entry on Hush Puppy shoes:
The Hush Puppies name and mascot were coined by the brand's first sales manager, James Gaylord Muir. Initially, the company's advertising agency recommended naming the product "Lasers." Then, on a selling trip to the southeast, Mr. Muir dined with one of his regional salesmen and the meal included hush puppies, traditional fried southern cornballs. When Mr. Muir asked about the origin of the name, he was told that farmers threw hush puppies at the hounds to "quiet their barking dogs."
Mr. Muir saw a connection to his new product. "Barking dogs" in the vernacular of the day was an idiom for sore feet. Mr. Muir surmised his new shoes were so comfortable that they could "quiet barking dogs."