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The Canine in Conversation
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reproduction of a painting showing a girl holding a dog in her lap
figure 1  


love me, love my dog. If you want to be my friend, you must also befriend my friends.

This is an admonition that anyone contemplating cohabitation with a dog owner should take to heart. I expected that it was likely to be a recent line; it seems so apt for the “me” generation. Little did I guess it would turn out to be centuries old. John Heywood usually gets the nod for this formulation somewhere in the 1500's, but it seems as if the origin is even older.reference 1 An earlier version, “Who loves me will love my dog also,” is attributed to St. Bernard. This would actually be a translation from the Latin, “Qui me amat, amet et canem meum.”reference 2 However, it is not clear if Bernie actually said it or simply wrote it down, since the note in Bartlett's describes it as a “proverb of the time.”reference 3 I guess some aspects of human nature are timeless.

Thomas Friedman provided an outstanding example of this phrase used metaphorically. In 1996, as France and the U.S. were squabbling over NATO command, he reported: “President Clinton wrote...that he welcomed a larger European role in NATO's command structure, but that there was no way the U.S. was going to let an Italian or a Frenchman have even nominal authority over the Sixth Fleet...he bluntly declared that ‘The U.S. will continue to take the lead in NATO, especially in the southern region.’ Or, translating from the English: ‘Jacques, if you want the Sixth Fleet around, you're going to have to accept an American commander. Love me, love my dog.’”reference 4



1. Bartlett, John. 1980. Familiar Quotations: A Collection of Passages, Phrases and Proverbs Traced to Their Sources in Ancient and Modern Literature. 15th and 125th anniversary edition, rev. and enl. ed. Boston: Little, Brown and Co.

2. Skinner, Bruce, ed. 1997. Dog Quotes. A Breed Apart: Advising and Entertaining Greyhound Owners Worldwide 2 (12). Accessed Apr 1 2001 from http:// dogquote.htm.

3. Bartlett, John.

4. Friedman, Thomas L. 1996. A France Bites Dog Story. New York Times, Dec 1. Accessed Apr 18 2008 from http:// gst/ fullpage.html? res= 9D06EEDE123C F932A35751 C1A960958260.

About the illustration: Sir Joshua Reynolds' “Miss Bowles with Her Dog,” 1775. This image is often mistakenly titled “Love Me, Love My Dog,” as in the listings for the Art Renewal Center Museum. 4. Art Renewal Center. 2001. Art Renewal Center Museum. ARC International. Accessed Apr 1 2001 from http:// asp/ database/ contents.asp.
see also: man's best friend; If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog Last updated: July 5, 2008
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