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Mad dog in the rain
Posted by: jerrygarner7 (
Date: May 21, 2005 07:15PM

This has nothing to do with homework, but it seemed the appropriate place to post
Does this idiom still exist?

Mad dog in the rain

This idiom was well know in rural areas, and then faded into oblivion.
I do know it was universal around 1900, but that was man years ago.
My question is, do people recognize it, understand it, or has it disappeared?
I want to use it for a title of a short story, but if it has slipped from common definition will have to discard it.

Re: Mad dog in the rain
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (
Date: May 22, 2005 11:16AM

I have no recollection of having heard it before

Can't help but think of "mad dogs and englismen standing in the midday sun"

Re: Mad dog in the rain
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: May 22, 2005 11:17AM

Doesn't exist. What does it mean anyway?

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That is not to say it still would not be a good title though.

More interesting yet, how can you know it was in common usage circa 1900? That would make you over 100 years old by now!

Re: Mad dog in the rain
Posted by: jerrygarner7 (
Date: May 22, 2005 05:59PM

Mad dog in the rain-is this a functional idiom?

A dog is a creature with limited reasoning ability; add rabies and all reasoning ability ceases only torment remains.
The brain fever (encephalomyelitis) within a mad dog makes his behavior erratic (mad). His symptoms are frenzied
activity and seeking shelter. (Mad dogs usually seek shelter in damp earth, under houses.) …
Given the physiological breakdown of the body’s mechanisms, and always the raging fever, add the hydrophobic aspect of rabies.
Tormented by pains, raging fever, thirst and the inability to quench that thirst, you have a creature beyond reason.
He is afraid of water, but does not know why.
Now, it rains!
A mad dog is a victim of forces unknown, beyond despair and then the inconceivable happens-it rains.

As applied to humans, mad dog in the rain is a statement of a situation where every conceivable misfortune has occurred and then the inconceivable presents itself.
“Snake bit,” was/is a rural idiom applied freely for calamity and has been adapted, somewhat, by urban dwellers.
“Mad dog in the rain”, was applied judiciously, reserved for those events beyond explanation.
It is still a functional idiom in rural areas, but not among the young.
I have never heard it spoken by an urban dweller.
Thus, the question,
Thanks for responses
(Search rabies-there have been seven survivors)

Mad dog story
When you young you do not pay attention to what the old ones are saying, you only remember bits and snatches.
An old one recalled a neighbor in rural Alabama, afflicted with rabies.
Vaccine may or may not have been available, but not in rural Alabama circa 1900-1920.
Also, a dog bite is not reason to seek a physician, if a physician were available.
When the rabies became apparent, the men folk of neighboring farms chained the rabid man in his bed. A male, a non-relative, was present around the clock. The fear was that he would
somehow loosen the chains and harm his family members. A shotgun was always in the bedroom, readily available
to the guards.
The man lived over a week (vague on time sequence); his death was a great relief to family members, and neighbors.

The victim had moments of lucidity, where he begged the man guarding him to kill him.
The old one telling the tale was aware of young ears, he did not dwell on the
activities of the man when he was mad, only his begging to be killed when he was lucid.

Re: Mad dog in the rain
Posted by: rikki (
Date: May 22, 2005 07:13PM

I haven't heard this expression either ( and i'm not american), but it made me think of 'raindog'.
Tom Waits fans are generally known as raindogs - i've belonged to his raindog forum for years - since the release of one of his early albums. I traced it back to this quote:

"People who live outdoors. You know how after the rain you see all these dogs that seem lost, wandering around. The rain washes away all their scent, all their direction. So all these people are knit together, by some corporeal way of sharing pain and discomfort."

and apparently Tom got the idea from some very old saying - maybe there is some connection?


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