As the new school year draws near, most of us students are thinking about reconnecting with their friends, the clubs and activities they partake in, and their new classes. Students are also dreading the amount of homework that comes with a new class that might be more challenging since we are expected to be a whole year smarter than we were last year. We think of how we are gonna get all our homework done along with going to soccer practices, practicing the piano for at least half an hour a day, and oh, there is that thing called sleep that we should prioritize as well since it keeps us functioning during the day. We think and think about how we are going to get all the work done when we come to the realization that we could just use a simple excuse that gets us out of doing our homework. There are the common ones such as “I wasn’t feeling too well last night,” or “I left my workbook at school,” or my favorite that no teacher has ever believed on my account, “My dog ate my homework.” However, have you ever wondered how this clever phrase came to be? Or who was the first to blurt out the phrase when he or she was asked to present his or her homework? I have, and after doing a bit of research I have an answer.
The first time the phrase “My dog ate my homework” was expressed was in the magazine The Cambrian in 1905. The journal’s music critic at the time William ApMadoc wrote about a sermon a minister who was substituting for the Church in Wales shared with the Congregation. The minister who had given the sermon admitted that his dog ate some of the paper the sermon was written, and he was concerned that his dog would suffer from indigestion from eating the paper.
The phrase was again recorded in an article found in the British paper The Guardian in the year 1929. The line that resembles the phrase is, “It is a long time since I have had the excuse about the dog tearing up the arithmetic homework,” indicating that the phrase has been used by students beforehand.
The phrase continues to live on even after word processers on a computer were invented. Somehow, students were still able to incorporate the excuse by telling stories such as, “I found my homework chewed to pieces this morning next to my backpack, and I didn’t have time to print another.”
I am not so sure that people still try to bring out this excuse when told to present their non-existent homework since everything in schools is done electronically now, but I have faith there are a couple people out there still using this excuse so it doesn’t die. This phrase has been around for over a century. It would be a shame to not continually use it in order to keep it alive and active, and to keep new generations aware of this clever phrase.