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figure 1

 

egg-sucking dog. 1. A man who induces women to cheat on their mates.reference 1 2.Someone with an unbreakable habit.

Unless you are an attorney whose specialty is property rights, you are unlikely to have heard this expression other than in the song by the great Johnny Cash, Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog. Even then you may not be certain of the significance. The figurative meaning seems implicit in the lyrics. Less likable than a bird dog, the egg sucking dog has unsavory habits and gets into other men's hen houses.

Well he's not very handsome to look at
Oh he's shaggy and he eats like a hog
And he's always killin' my chickens
That dirty old egg-suckin' dog

Egg-suckin' dog
I'm gonna stomp your head in the ground
If you don't stay out of my hen house
You dirty old egg-suckin' hound

Now if he don't stop eatin' my eggs up
Though I'm not a real bad guy
I'm going to get my rifle and send him
To that great chicken house in the sky

Egg-suckin' dog
You're always a-hangin' around
But you'd better stay out of my hen house
You dirty old egg-suckin' houndreference 2

The more literal meaning refers to farm dogs who develop a taste for fresh eggs. Whether they actually “suck” rather than just eat them is not clear to me. This habit is deemed pernicious and unbreakable.

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figure 2

egg-sucking dog (legal). That the tenacity with which a dog will cling to this habit is justifiable grounds for a sentence of death is, as it turns out, a matter of settled law. Well, maybe not settled law, but a recently cited case from the Mississippi Supreme Court (Hull v. Scruggs, 191 Miss. 66 (1941)) states unequivocally, “It is a fact of common knowledge that when a dog has once acquired the habit of egg-sucking there is no available way by which he may be broken of it, and that there is no calculable limit to his appetite in the indulgence of the habitual propensity.reference 3 The case involved a dispute between two neighbors as to who was responsible for the death of one man's dog and the other's chickens. Since the behavior is unbreakable, capital punishment was apparently acceptable. In 1981 the case was cited as a precedent in Mississippi in Wiley v. Keen (404 So.2d 1025).

And then in 2009 Judge Richard A. Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit included Hull v. Scruggs in a ruling. He found in Mann v. Calumet City that the defendant, Calumet City, Illinois had not violated the Due Process Clause by forbidding the sale of a house without an inspection for building code compliance.reference 4 Exactly how the egg-sucking dog case is related is not entirely clear; it is included in a string of cases. The one preceding it is Greater Chicago Combine & Center, Inc. v. Chicago about “keeping pigeons in residential areas.”reference 5

1. Cash, Johnny. 1966. Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog, written by J. Clement. In Everybody Loves a Nut. Columbia Records. 2:05.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Ibid.

 

 

 

3. Thomas, Robert H. Dec 7 2009. To Kill an Egg-Sucking Dog. inversecondemnation.com. Robert H. Thomas. Accessed Feb 6 2010 from http:// www.inversecondemnation.com/ inversecondemnation/ 2009/ 12/ to-kill-an-eggsucking-dog.html.

4. Thomas, Robert H. Dec 7, 2009. Land Use Law Day at the Seventh Circuit: "Property Owner Can Kill a Trespassing Dog That Has Irresistible Urge to Suck Eggs". inversecondemnation.com. Robert H. Thomas. Accessed Feb 6 2010 from http:// www.inversecondemnation.com/ inversecondemnation/ 2009 /12/ land-use-law-day-at-the-seventh-circuit-property-owner-can-kill-a-trespassing-dog-that-has-irresisti.html.

5. Mann v. Calumet City 1681, 2481 (7th Cir. 2009) accessed Feb 6 2010 from caselaw.findlaw.com/ data2/ circs/7th/ 091681p.pdf.

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About the illustrations: Figure 1 is a rather crude drawing of a liberal egg sucking dog uploaded to photobucket by Jaavik. It is dated 1996, in the midst of the Clinton years and perhaps it refers to the received propensity of liberals for taxing and spending. On the other hand, the punctuation suggests that the egg is the liberal, so perhaps the dog is... Never mind.

Figure 2 is labeled "egg sucking dog" by stephg67. This work is used under the provisions of Creative Commons license 2.0 generic. http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephg67/ / CC BY-NC 2.0

cf: bird dog Last updated: February 6. 2010
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