Clichés come about because a word or phrase is so apropos that everyone uses it. For example, Black as night works because night is very black, unless you live in a sprawling metropolis with light pollution issues.
But some clichés are odd. Work like a dog makes no sense at all. Every time I use it, I glance at Jezebel who’s laying on the floor sound asleep. Jez has never done an honest day’s work in her life.
I suppose the phrase comes from the dogs of yore, which spent their days herding sheep and protecting the flock from wolves. Or, like Jez’s breed, dogs that spent their weekends braving snow, icy water, and forest creatures to retrieve whatever bird the master shot.
Jez, on the other hand, spends her winter days asleep in a patch of sunshine streaming through the living room window. When the sun moves, she wakes up and moves back into the warm patch. In the summer, she works even less. She just plops her body down on the air conditioning vent, and she’s done.
In all fairness, Jez does occasionally stand at the floor-length window and bark at the Pomeranian Devil (see Pomeranian Devil) or the blind man with his red and white cane. (Apparently, they’re both serious threats to our home and children.) And even if Jez’s sound asleep, the moment FedEx/DHL/UPS truck pulls up outside, and she jumps up and snarls and bares her teeth at the guys from the moment they leave their truck until they pull away from the curb.
All that to say, I think we need to find a new cliché. How about work like a mom with four kids whose oldest is five? (That was me 13 years ago.) Or, work like a mom with two graduating seniors who are having a senior recital next week—and whose daughter’s black recital gown needs alterations? Or work like woman who got all of the summer clothes out of the attic at the same time and now has a stack of ironing that includes over 40 garments—that’s real work!