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The Canine in Conversation
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a black and white illustration of a noose
figure 1  


end of one's tether or rope. To have exhausted all your options or to be ready to break.reference 1

The phrase likely referred originally to all kinds of agricultural and domestic animals.  These days, in the U.S., few of us tether any creature, and, dogs are far and away the most likely candidates.  It should be noted that coming to the end of “one’s” rope is different from coming to the end of one’s own or “my” tether.  In the former case it may suggest captivity or imposed limits; the latter implies a failure of the speaker’s capacities or resources.



1. Hobbs, M.A. Underwood. 1999. Pure Doggerel. White Star Farm,. Accessed Oct 21 2001 from http:// meanwhilebackatthefarm. com/ doghouse/ puredoggerel.htm.

2. Lewis. “Re: rope.” In Martin, Gary J., ed. 2001.The Phrase Finder Sheffield Hallam University. Accessed Jan 3 2008 from http:// www.phrases. bulletin_board/ 28/ messages/ 964.html.
About the illustration: Figure 1 is a morbid image, to be sure. And certainly, at the moment you face death, in some sense you have exhausted all options, at least in the material world. © 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation.
see also: on a short leash
Last updated: July 5, 2008
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