With news that Donald Trump would back down on his plan to keep the federal government shut down until he procured funding for his wall (for three weeks at least), Twitter lit up with proclamations that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had successfully “dog-walked” Trump. Ironically enough, this was a turn of phrase that many Americans wouldn’t have even understood the last time the government was actually open. The phrase shot into the political sphere, and especially discussion of the shutdown, when Cardi B shot back at conservative commentator Tomi Lahren—who is the real-life answer to the question, “What if Regina George read Bill O’Reilly books?”—on Twitter after Lahren criticized Cardi for even speaking out about the shutdown on Instagram. “Leave me alone I will dog walk you,” wrote Cardi. Lahren did not, in fact, leave her alone and, as promised, got expertly dog-walked in return.
Even Cardi herself agrees with the assessment that Pelosi managed to expertly drag the president by a leash like a disobedient dog. (Which is ironic, given that the worst thing Trump seems to think you can do to a dog is fire them. Fact check: Most dogs do not hold employment to begin with).
While we’re only 24 days into 2019 and have no idea what the rest of this year has in store for us, perhaps it’s not too early to earmark “dog walk” for the Oxford English Dictionary folks as our earliest contender for Word of the Year. (Before you point out that, indeed, “dog walk” is technically two words, Oxford has chosen numerous two-word phrases—and even once an emoji—as its word of the year before, so there’s precedent.) Sure, by the end of 2019 we’ll have all probably overused it and grown sick of “dog walked” (you’d be forgiven if you already think the below now-viral gif is a bit too much), but it sure does seem to be shaping up to be the year of dog walking.
Of course, before we crown it front-runner for word of the year, we should probably take stock of what it actually means. It’s been in use in certain circles for a few years now, and comes with some violent and physical overtones similar to the phrase “kick ass” in some ways (and may we remind you that the president once wrote a book, or “wrote” a book, rather, entitled Think Big and Kick Ass). As it spreads on Twitter, it seems to take on a more metaphorical meaning applied to one party absolutely shutting down another in a confrontation. Not only does it carry the connotations that one party is the master and the other just a pet, but the image of a dog being hauled by a leash brings to mind actual dragging (or “roasting” in today’s parlance).
Of course, from here the phrase will probably continue to be overused, misused, and mutated until it loses all meaning (fast-forward to Thanksgiving when a 54-year-old white aunt inevitably mutters it), but, hey, isn’t that always the case for phrases that leave their mark on a year?