Proverb – England

“Never was a cat or dog drowned that could but see the shore”

Peter Davey told me that his father used this proverb ever since he was a young child.  He said that his dad would say it whenever they were in a situation that seemed never-ending or if Peter ever had a lot of work to do either for school or any other job he has had.  Peter is from Florida but is father is 100% British and his mother is 100% Italian.  Peter believes that his father learned it while he was growing up in England just one generation before he was born.  Peter told me that he doesn’t tend to use the proverb himself, thus making him a passive bearer of the proverb.  Peter tells me that he always takes his father’s words to heart and that his interpretation of the proverb is to never give up and always have faith.

Personally, I agree with Peter’s idea that this proverb is a symbol of never giving up, and I also believe that it has something to do with hope.  If someone can see the shore and they are willing to not give up hope, then surely they will be able to survive.  I also believe that the proverb displays the general attitude of perseverance.  In Peter’s case I believe that he often used it to push himself to get through his schoolwork and give him hope that there would be an end to all the pain and suffering that he experiences when working.  I assume that Peter’s father probably learned this saying through his own trials and tribulations and I believe that he is perseverant mainly due to the fact that Peter is a first generation American and his father must have worked hard to get here.

I was able to also find this proverb in the book The Penguin dictionary of Proverbs under the category of valuing hope.  I agree that this proverb shows the value in hope because it shows that hope is one thing of value that a person has when in times of trouble.  I interpret this proverb to mean if a dog or cat has the persistence and hope to get to shore alive, then surely it will survive.  I think that this is a good analogy to people and the way the people’s minds think when in times of need.

I think a good example of this proverb can be seen in the movie “The Shawshank Redemption” in which the main character, Andy Dufresne realizes that he can dig a hole through the wall of his prison cell to escape.  It takes him 20 years to finally dig through the wall, but the one thing that Andy never gave up was his hope because he was able to see the way out, or in this proverb’s case the shore.

Annotation:  Ferguson, Rosalind.  The Penguin Dictionary of Proverbs.  Great Britain.      Penguin Books.  1983. pg 91.