Work Like a Dog Day falls on the fifth of August each year, but the title of the holiday leaves some folks a bit perplexed. It can, in fact, be a little bit confusing.
Some people see dogs as lazy creatures—lounging around, receiving treats and fulfilling their roles as “man’s (and woman’s!) best friend.” There isn’t much about many dogs that lends itself to a strong work ethic. Most people don’t want to work like the dogs they see in most of their friends and family member’s homes. They strive to work much harder than that.
Work Like a Dog: Its Origin
The idiom “work like a dog” suggests working to the best of one’s ability for as long as possible. It likely comes from actual working dogs. For example, sheep dogs are known for herding sheep. Sled dogs tow sleds filled to the brim—as well as their masters—to various locations in climates where snow covers the ground throughout a good part of the year. These are hardworking dogs.
Treat the Breadwinners
The idea of Work Like a Dog Day is to celebrate those who work—well, like those sheep dogs and sled dogs. It’s meant to acknowledge the hard work they do—day in and day out—all year long.
In addition to being the breadwinners, these hard-working people typically perform other necessary functions as well. Many are parents, so tending to and raising their children is yet another full time job. Add to that the cooking, the housecleaning, and an attempt at sneaking in a bit of leisure time, and there’s no time left for much else.
Treating the breadwinners to something that will lighten their load is an excellent way to celebrate Work Like a Dog Day. A gift certificate for housecleaning, a restaurant meal, or maybe even a massage or manicure is a nice way to convey your appreciation for all they do.
Lauding the Workaholic
Some people actually like to work like a dog. In fact, they thrive on it. The notion of working hard is what makes them tick. These people become known as workaholics, but there’s a way to celebrate them, too, on Work Like a Dog Day.
Workaholics are driven. They are wired to go, go, go—on one speed alone. That speed is high. This doesn’t mean they wouldn’t appreciate a day or perhaps even a week off from housecleaning or cooking. They will no doubt truly appreciate the gift, and use the break to do what they do best—work—even more.
A break for a workaholic means they can work hard at some other task—likely one they’ve been meaning to tackle, but simply haven’t found the time in which to do so.
Don’t Confuse the Day or Idiom
It’s important to not confuse Work Like a Dog Day with another dog related idiom. “It’s a dog’s life,” is yet another popular saying. In this instance, however, dogs aren’t deemed hard-working. In fact, this refers to a more common view of dogs—the one in which they lounge around and await treats from their owners. Workaholics are definitely not living a “dog’s life.” It might be a nice idea to let those you’re celebrating know you understand the difference.
Urge a Happy Medium?
Might it be worth trying to convince our workaholic friends and loved ones to slow down a bit, and perhaps find that happy medium type of balance in their lives? You can try, but if the workaholic is truly driven to stay focused and motivated, there likely isn’t much that you can do.
Remind your friend or loved one that Work Like a Dog Day is a celebration of their hard work. It might prompt them to consider taking a short break. More likely they’ll keep on working hard, as that’s what they no doubt love to do.
Teach by Example
You can try to teach your friends or family members that work like a dog to enjoy a leisurely break. Probably more by example than by suggestion. Instead of simply gifting them a day off from housecleaning or cooking, offering to take them to the lake or beach or out to a movie or musical performance will teach them that down time can also be productive time. Relaxation helps the body and mind regenerate. Leisure activities sometimes spawn new interests like healthy and interesting ones. Even workaholics need to allow themselves a type of refueling (or must be forced into taking one) from time to time!
Which category do you fall under? Are you a workaholic or are you among those who will choose instead to celebrate a workaholic on Work Like a Dog Day? If you fall under the first title, what would make the day celebratory for you?