K-9 or canine

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K-9 or canine

Post by Archived Topic » Wed Aug 25, 2004 6:15 am

K-9 or Canine is a term often used for dogs. Does anyone know the origin of this?

Micke
Uppsala,Sweden
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K-9 or canine

Post by Archived Reply » Wed Aug 25, 2004 6:29 am

Micke, I can’t do any better than the etymology which you can get for ‘canine’ yourself by using the ‘onelook.com’ link of instruction #1 and typing in your word. The 2nd entry Merriam-Webster’s will give you your answer.

As far as the ‘K-9’ part, there was the K-9 Corp for dogs established in 1942 during WW II as part of the Army Quartermaster Corp. It had originally been called ‘D4D' [‘Dogs for Defense’] until someone came up with the bright idea of K-9 Corps. Not certain if K-9 was used before then, though.
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K-9 or canine

Post by Archived Reply » Wed Aug 25, 2004 6:44 am

Neither. The OED prefers " doggy style"
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K-9 or canine

Post by hsargent » Sun Oct 18, 2009 5:35 pm

I believe this has been discussed but couldn't search due to less than 4 characters. Wikipedia simply redirects to Canine.

How did this acronym or abbreviation begin?
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Re: K-9 or canine

Post by hsargent » Tue Oct 20, 2009 2:43 pm

I was lying in bed at 4 AM and realized how the K-9 query was obvious.

Canine is the name of the specie and K-9 is simply a short version of the pronunciation of the word.

Thanks for the archive work
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Re: K-9 or Canine

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Oct 20, 2009 7:05 pm

Harry, I got to wondering and so here’s a bit more I came up with on the K-9 question – when invented, by whom, early quotes?

I found in the archives of the American Dialect Society that its origin had been addressed back in 1996 by noted word maven Barry Popik. But the only thing of possible significance that he added to my findings of 6 years ago (that K-9 probably derived from the WWII ‘K-9 Corps’) was an outlier quote from 1915 (see below) in reference to a possible name for a sporting team. However, from the evidence, this particular quote doesn’t appear to have been the source. And from my evidence below, neither does the ‘K-9 Corps’ of WWII as has been suggested. Below I show that K-9 had been used by dog fanciers at least some years before the ‘K-9 Corp,’ came into existence.

But first, for the record, here is what Barry Popik had to say:
Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996

From: Barry A. Popik

Subject: K-9 (for "canine"): or, My Life Goes to the Dogs!


“Who invented K-9? It seems natural enough from "canine," but in the many "hot dog" papers I have from the 19th century, I didn't see it used once.

In Stuart Berg Flexner's I HEAR AMERICA TALKING, pg. 437, he has "the _K-9 Corps_ (a pun on 'canine') was the corps of army guard dogs or 'war dogs.' It was originally known as D4D (Dogs for Defense) and sometimes called _the Wags_."

In Paul Dickson's WAR SLANG, pg. 183, he has "K-9 CORPS. Dogs used in war. The Army's K-9 Corps, organized during the war, was originally called D4D ('Dogs for Defense')."

A check of the Eureka computer network shows a movie THE K-9 KADETS (1944) and THE K-9 CORPS, OFFICIAL MARCH OF "DOGS FOR DEFENSE" (1943). James Belushi [[younger brother of John]] starred in the movie K-9 (a dog!) in 1989. The term is used in about a dozen other titles--one from 1961, and the others from the 1980s and 1990s.

Does anyone have K-9 before WWII?

This (the earliest I found) comes from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8
February 1915, p. 12, sports column banner headline: Why Not Call the Terriers the K-9's? They Might Submarine the Whales.
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According to the following 1943 Time Magazine article, the organization ‘Dogs for Defense’ (DFD) was founded by a group of dog fanciers just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor:
<1943 “Dogs for Defense was founded just after Pearl Harbor by a handful of dog fanciers. Well aware of the dog's great value to armies of other nations, DFD rounded up dogs suitable for training as messenger, sentry and pack dogs, offered them free to the U.S. Army. After six months, the War Department at last recognized the dog, made Dogs for Defense its sole and official procurement agency.”—Time Magazine, 22 February>
And I would be remiss if I didn’t include the Dogs for Defense rousing marching song:

From the kennels of the country,
From the homes and firesides too,
We have joined the canine army,
Our nation's work to do;
We serve with men in battle,
And scout thru jungles dense;
We are proud to be enlisted
In the cause of The Dogs For Defense.
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Now here is why I say that K-9 was a dog fancier’s word before the ‘K-9 Corps’ came into existence during WWII. According to the above Time Magazine article (and other sources) ‘Dogs for Defense’ (DVD) didn’t exist before the bombing of Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941). And according to several sources (including War Slang by Paul Dickson) it was ‘later’ dubbed the ‘K-9 Corps.’ But the following is a quote from an article discussing a kennel show which took place on March 15, 1941 – nearly 9 months before Pearl Harbor. I stopped looking when I found this one quote because this is an extremely painful search. But I think that if I persevered I could probably find a few more in the late 1930s time frame. But it doth take but one counterexample to do the trick!
<1941 “Lounsbury Collie is Breed Victor: Collies were among the first breeds judged at the opening of the twenty-second annual all-breed show of the Cincinnati Kennel Club today. . . Best of Breed Awards: . . . Toys: . . . Japanese Spaniels — K-9 Kennels’ K-9’s Geisha Girl. . . .”—New York Times, 16 March, page S6>
And, I would imagine that ‘K-9 Kennels’ (with its winning dog ‘K-9 Geisha Girl’) probably existed – possibly years – before this competition. So, there is no way in hell that the ‘K-9 Corps’ was the source of the canine/K-9 play on words – earlier dog lovers got to it first – although it was undoubtedly its greatest popularizer. Big deal. Right! (<;)
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Ken – October 20, 2009
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Re: K-9 or Canine

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:40 am

I can't let this thread go on any longer without a mention of Doctor Who's pet dog, K9. He looks like THIS.
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Re: K-9 or canine

Post by Wizard of Oz » Mon Oct 26, 2009 10:35 am

.. Ken I am sure that you are not suggesting that the use of dogs in the military started with the US after the bombing of Pearl Harbour .. I am correct in that I am sure .. if anybody is interested in a history of how dogs have been an integral part of military history then go here to K9 History for a good look .. the quotes that I would like to mention are >>
Throughout the histories of warfare, from the days of the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Persians and the conquests of the Roman Empire. To the United Nation's Police Action in Korea, the war in Vietnam, the Gulf War, and more recently during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.

…, on this side of the Atlantic, they helped the Spaniards conquer the indians of Mexico and Peru.

The first recorded American Canine Corp was during the Seminole War of 1835, and again in 1842, in Florida and Louisiana, where Cuban-bred bloodhounds were used by the army to track the indians and runaway slaves in the swamps! And during the bleakest time in the history of the United States, the Civil War, dogs were used as messengers, guards and as mascots.

In 1884, the German Army established the first organize Military School for training war dogs at Lechernich, near Berlin; and in 1885 wrote the very first training manual for MWD.

In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, dogs were used by Teddy's Roughriders, as scouts in the jungles of Cuba.

In 1904, Imperial Russia used ambulance dogs during the Russo-Japanese War; trained by a British dog fancier, who later went on to establish the first Army Dog School in England, at the start of The Great War.

Dogs were used in sizable numbers in both World War I and II, particularly by the Germans, French, Belgians; and proved to be of considerable value!
.. I would find it hard to believe that with this long history of using dogs in the military that nobody in the English speaking world had come up with K9 as the natural abbreviation of canine .. I appreciate what Ken is saying that it is hard to locate printed references but again I feel that K9s have been piddling on poles for a very long time .. and with the British love of all things barkish and woofish I again find it hard to believe that such a natural abbreviation as K9 was unknown many, many decades ago ..

WoZ trying not to step in it
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Re: K-9 or canine

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Oct 27, 2009 11:21 pm

Wiz, I’m in agreement with you and did find it hard to swallow that K-9 or K9 or K 9 had not seen some significant use before WWII. But after doing my above search (which produced quite a bit of noise, all of which I couldn’t wade through) in everything from animal dictionaries, to books on canine history, to kennel ads in newspapers and magazines, the earliest quote I could come up with was from 1941.

However, today was a new day and your posting inspired me to give it another shot. Also bugging me was Barry Popik’s American Dialect Society posting, in which he found nothing from the 19th century, gave one oddball 1915 quote, and then the only thing he provided in the way of etymology were his references to Stuart Flexner’s book I Hear American Talking and to Paul Dickson’s War Slang, which both directed us to the WWII K-9 Corps. So, what was happening between 1915 and 1941?

My feeling is that K-9 just slowly dribbled into existence, beginning and then staying at a low level for quite some time and without being specifically identified with any particular group. Clearly, the lack of visibility in such sources as newspapers, dog books, dog purchase/grooming/kennel ads, military dog discussions, etc. showed none of these were particularly enamored with the expression. And I think that it probably did take the WWII K-9 Corps to thrust K-9 to the forefront and get it massively into print, because it sure didn't see a hell of a lot of press before then.

In any case, today I tried again, with a fresh start and a somewhat clearer head – one can get punchy after a few hours of searching – and ‘tomorrow is another day’ sometimes actually works. With some new search tacks and a bit of luck I hit pay dirt with 7 hits that predate my above 1941 quote, with the earliest being from 1879.

It was my 1900 hit in the British satirical humor magazine Punch (1841 to 1992 and 1996 to 2002), which reviewed a book titled All About Dogs, that led me to my three 19th-century quotes below (incidentally, in the magazine, Punch is the humanized puppet of Punch and Judy fame). Appearing in this review was the phrase “Detective Dogs of the old ‘K-9’ division.” Voilà! And what were they?

In an 1879 issue of Punch, a facetious article proposes a new Dramatic College at the University of Cambridge and, among other things, humorous job titles and associated job descriptions for its employees. Included among these were the ‘Proctors’ or ‘University Moral Police’ who would be assisted by ‘Assistant Proctors’ who were anthropomorphic bull dogs – these K 9 assistants were what the above book reviewer referred to as “Detective Dogs of the old ‘K 9’ division” (of 21 years earlier). The accompanying sketch of these ‘K 9’ Proctors’ Assistants, shows a cartoon portrait of a very distinguished-looking, seated bull dog dressed in formal attire, wearing a head covering of some sort, along with a high, white, formal dress collar with a big K 9 embroidered on the collar's side.
<1879 “Hints for a New and Original Dramatic College [
] . . . The Proctors, or University Moral Police, would wear such a costume as would convey a distinct idea of their functions. The Proctors’ Assistants, or ‘Bull Dogs’ would, for the first time in the history of the University, have a chance of appearing in character . . . they would, I say, be described, in the . . . programme, as belonging to the K 9 division, and they could wear puggarees.’”—Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 76, 27 December, page 293> [[puggarees is probably a doggy play on ‘dungarees; ‘Charivari’ in the title was taken from a French satirical humor magazine Le Charivari]]

<1880 “Alonzo the Brave; Or, Faust and the Fair Imogene. . . . [
  • ] . . . Bandini (a gentleman in an official capacity at Muddleberg University). Mr. G. Post; Barco, Byto (his attendants—belonging to the K9 division). M. A. L. Hambea, M. T. Illcave. . . .”—The ‘A. D. C.’ Camb. [[Reminiscences of Amateur Dramatic Club of University of Cambridge]] page 192>

    <1891 “CANINE SAGACITY.—Numerous instances of this have been quoted in the Spectator and other papers. Our Toby would like to be informed how one clever dog would communicate with another clever dog, if the former were in a great hurry.? The reply from a great authority in the K 9 Division, signing himself ‘Dogberry,’ is that ‘the clever dog would either tailegraph or tailephone; but that any, in the strictest confidence, he would tell his own tail.’ ”—Punch, or the London Chairivari, Vol. 100-101, 28 August, page 108> [[Toby is Punch’s bull dog]]

    <1900 (book review) “All About Dogs – A Book for Doggy People (1900) by C. H. Lane: . . . To be perfect, the book ought to have been issued ‘Dogs-eared.’ That it must be full of Dogs Tales, Funny Dogs, Clever Dogs, Sly Dogs, Regular Dogs, Detective Dogs of the old ‘K 9’ division, all categorically arranged.”—Punch (London), Vol. 119, page 283>
Although Punch was a smart threepenny weekly, I’m not sure how popular it was with the 1879 man in the street in England (to say nothing of the man in the street in the U.S. and the rest of the world). It would seem to me that its appeal would have been mostly to the intellectuals and the well-educated and I don’t know how much influence this one article in this one magazine could have had. In any case it does provide an early example of K 9 in print. And since, as you say, it is such a natural abbreviation, it does seem likely that it sprung up in several places independently, so that this Punch contribution might just be one dribble among many.

Popik’s 1915 and my 1916 quotes may well represent isolated individuals getting creative and coming up with a spiffy new abbreviation, or, on the other hand, they could be folks just using something they have heard earlier:
<1915 (sports column banner headline) “Why Not Call the Terriers the K-9's? They Might Submarine the Whales.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri), 8 February, page 12>

<1916 “Room Numbers Are A Puzzle: . . . A Tennessee delegate, weary and bedraggles, hurried up to the clerk today and demanded his room. ‘You have K-9,’ said the clerk. ‘Canine, eh?’ commented the delegate. “Well I suppose that’s a kennel. not a room But I’m dog tired, so I suppose it will fit.’ A few minutes late a delegate was assigned to F-2. ‘That’s,’ he said, ‘That’s a submarine. I hope we can come up for air.”—Los Angeles Times, 10 June, page 13>
However, although all the above quotes and others may have contributed their individual dribbles to the growing use of K-9, it is possible that the following 1931 movie title, All Quiet on the K 9 Front, had a larger impact then any of them. But, it still took another decade before for the floodgates opened with the formation of the ‘Dogs for Defense’ and the K-9 Corp of WWII:
<1931 “Hollywood Goes to the Dogs. . . Particularly has the M.-G.-M. studio gone to the dogs, with seventy-five of them assembled for the barking brevities. . . comedies, in which human voices are ‘dubbed’ for the canines have proven their popularity. . . . The series has included ‘The Big Dog House,’ ‘All Quiet on the K 9 Front,’ ‘The Dogway Melody,’ ‘College Hounds,’ and many others.”—Los Angeles Times, 24 May, page L12>

<1936 “Bee Johnson’s household is a trifle involved. . . . there’s Fluffy Ruffles, an elegant Angora, and Brother Crawford . . . In addition there are four dogs. Bee recently changed the name of her house to Ranch K9 and K.T. The K9 means Canine, and the K.T. links up with Kitty.”—Los Angeles Times, 26 October, page A5>

<1941 “Lounsbury Collie is Breed Victor: Collies were among the first breeds judged at the opening of the twenty-second annual all-breed show of the Cincinnati Kennel Club today. . . Best of Breed Awards: . . . Toys: . . . Japanese Spaniels — K-9 Kennels’ K-9’s Geisha Girl. . . .”—New York Times, 16 March, page S6>

<1943 “Sport: K-9s: Dogs for Defense was founded just after Pearl Harbor by a handful of dog fanciers. Well aware of the dog's great value to armies of other nations, DFD rounded up dogs suitable for training as messenger, sentry and pack dogs, offered them free to the U.S. Army. After six months, the War Department at last recognized the dog, made Dogs for Defense its sole and official procurement agency.”—Time Magazine, 22 February>
Ken – October 27, 2009
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Re: K-9 or canine

Post by Wizard of Oz » Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:01 pm

.. Ken you made me feel like a boxing second .. there in your corner between searching rounds .. spraying you with water (suitably flavoured with something of your choice), rubbing linament into sore (finger) muscles and whispering how you needed to lead with your right (side of your brain) and consolidate with a solid left (side of your brain .. you always manage to get the KO in end ..

WoZ shadow searching
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Re: K-9 or canine

Post by trolley » Wed Oct 28, 2009 3:45 pm

He coulda been a contender!!
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Re: K-9 or canine

Post by PhilHunt » Wed Oct 28, 2009 6:23 pm

Ken Greenwald wrote:Wiz, I’m in agreement with you...
I hear my Italian students say this all the time, and I always thought it was a translation from the Italian. Is it actually standard English?
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Re: K-9 or canine

Post by Ken Greenwald » Wed Oct 28, 2009 11:30 pm

Wiz, Now I won't have to utta dat mournful refrain, I coulda been a contenda. Thanks for the corna woik and ya fahgot to mention ya smellin salts – they really helped too.

Note: John (aka trolley), Motha, Fatha, and da Holy Ghost (or whateva)! Marlon had it assbackwoods. I'm horrafied. No self-respectin' New Yawka woulda eva put a ‘er ’ at the enda contenda!
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(New Yawk) Ken – October 28, 2009
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