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What does the expression “To see a dog with a bird in its mouth” mean?

Example: from Harper's magazine Nov 2010, p9 (Notebook Essay "Figures of Speech" by Lewis H. Lapham) re. gaining wisdom with age: "... I figured that by the time I was seventy, ... I would have come up with a reason to believe that I had been made wise. Now I'm seventy-five and I see no sign of a dog with a bird in its mouth."

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One Response so far.

  1. misunderstoodness says:

    That is a somewhat strange way to use that phrase. The reference comes from dogs who are used for quail or duck hunting. The hunter shoots the bird, the bird falls, and the retriever (dog) finds the bird and carries it back to it’s master. It takes lots of patience to train a dog to pick the bird up without eating it, or “playing with it” to death, but I don’t believe the reference encompasses the trained dog. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help. At this point I’m kind of sorry I read this question, as I will probably mull over the possible meaning all day. Maybe, if the prey is the wisdom, it was thought by the man that wisdom would be brought to him through the course of life. Good luck with this.