I'm happy to say I was right. Sort of.
Okay, not really. Unless the Deep South you're referring to is South Canada. (Who knew there was a North and a South Canada?)
Brief History Lesson
At one time both Lower and Upper Canada existed as a part of the colony New
France, established in 1534. By France. (Yeah, we figured you'd guessed that part).
|France, ca. 1730. Map courtesy |
Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
When France lost to Great Britain, all of Canada was relinquished to the British. It evolved into "Upper Canada" and "Lower Canada" as a way to acknowledge the lifestyles of the settlers in each respective area.
Most of those living in the upper basin at the time were British expatriates while those living in the area that is modern-day Quebec were French.
The Constitutional Act of 1791 was passed as a way to allow British immigrants the freedoms of their English laws and institutions while the French-speaking population of Lower Canada could keep French civil law and their predominantly Catholic religion.
So what does this have to do
with dogs and two tails?
|This pup's wagging so fast, he seems|
to have 2 tails! photo: smerikal,
Creative Commons 2.0
What was most intriguing to me: most sources that trace the origins of idioms didn't know this. They cite the earliest published use of this idiom as being from an early 20th century journal published by Duke University, called American Speech.
I found only one somewhat obscure reference that led me to a quote written over 100 years earlier.
You see, there was this Scottish engineer named John Mactaggart who journeyed to Upper and Lower Canada. He was hired to help build a bridge over the Ottawa River at the Chaudière Falls to join the two Canadas together.
Upon his return to England, he wrote Three Years in Canada, and in that book, he declared, "Off went the Laird, as proud as a dog with two tails."
Betcha you didn't expect to get a history lesson today, did you?
The Oxford English Dictionary
Dictionary of Canadian Biography
Wikipedia - Upper & Lower Canada
"Three Years in Canada," John McTaggart. 1829.