"lose one's dog"

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Fri Mar 21 02:08:49 UTC 2003

   The most interesting expression I've encountered when reading
through the baseball columns of the 1913  newspaper San Francisco
Bulletin is "lose one's dog" (= lose control of the situation; lose
by a large margin). Until yesterday I had found just two examples of
the expression.

    Yesterday a third example emerged, concerning Chicago White Sox
slugger Ping Bodie's return to San Francisco for a visit.  He had
recently cancelled a vaudeville contract, and  upon his arrival in
San Francisco, he was specifically asked "Wha'd yu mean yu lost yu
dog?" [spelling of "yu": sic].  The question seems to mean: What do
you mean you lost the (lucrative) vaudeville contract? I.e.,
Something must have gone seriously wrong.

    Bodie was of Italian origin. Note the humorous rendering of "lost
your dog" quote into Italian: "COSA DICI HAI PERSO IL CANE?"

    Here's an excerpt from the newspaper article.

_(San Francisco) Bulletin_, Oct. 22, 1913, p. 14, cols. 5-6: "Eun
Fenonemo; Guisto Is Home; Cosa M'Importa. -- Mighty Ping Bodie
Returns From Chicago to Welcome Balboa During Portola Week. By
'Scoop' Gleeson.

    "Ping Bodie is back, and he thinks the decorations are for him.
[G. Cohen: The decorations were set up for a carnival]
    "The mighty pill pounder from Cow Hollow, who has lacerated the
feelings of more pine fences than any other slugger in organized
baseball, arrived during the night from Chicago.,,

     "Then his friends surrounded him and began to shower questions
upon Cow Hollow's most famous native son.

    "They wanted to know why he wasn't making the trip around the
world with the Sox and Giants;  why he had canceled the vaudeville
contract in Chicago,...

                    "COSA DICI HAI PERSO IL CANE?

    "Mention of the reported vaudeville engagement entered into by
Ping caused the slugger to go up in the air right away.
        "'Wha'd yu mean yu lost yu dog?" was asked.
        "'No, now, don't say anything about that.  I was approached
on the subject, but that's all talk about me going to do a turn
behind the footlights.  Stage work is bad for the batting glim and I
have no desire to cut any capers in the shadow of the asbestos.' ..."

---Gerald Cohen

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