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Is there a specifc incident or origin story for the common joke/comedic phrase "my dog ate my homework"? I always wondered whether there was a student who became notorious for not turning in their homework and using that excuse, or whether someone somewhere used it as a flimsy excuse and everyone thought it was funny, or any other reason...

If no one can find anything, do we at least know how long it's been around as a saying?

Also, how often does it turn out to be true? Has anyone here who owned a dog during childhood ever actually had that happen to them?

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    Yes, one of our dogs chews lots of things if they are left lying about. It is completely plausible. I’d bet it originated in truth about the same time as people started letting dogs live inside the home and homework was being done on paper. – Jim Mar 6 at 2:03
  • Here is a piece that recounts a similar joke as early as 1905: slate.com/human-interest/2012/10/… . However, I do not have any evidence that this was the earliest occurrence. – Benjamin Kuykendall Mar 6 at 2:04
  • It's been around for as long as there have been dogs and homework. – Hot Licks Mar 6 at 2:05
  • That article would make a pretty good answer. – DJClayworth Mar 6 at 4:13
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The phrase was actually built up through a series of sentences like, ' My dog chewed it up ' and ' My cat chewed it up and I had no time to do it over. '

These sentences were first used in the 1965 comic novel, Up the Down Staircase.

But it mainly became popular in 1974 when a book was written with the title, ' The Cat Ate My Gym. ' Many works had the same reference and only then did it become a classic punch.

It's funny, anyway.

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    1965 may be the origin of the two precise sentences you quote, but it is definitely not the origin of the trope, which is attested in written sources from the beginning of the 20th century. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 6 at 16:15

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