What Is “Just Flip The Dog”

In a nutshell, it’s become my motto. At its most basic, it simply means sometimes you have to do a complete 180.

It goes beyond “think outside the box,” or the old “but we’ve always done it that way.” It means not trying to fix what’s broken, but starting over from a completely different angle.

Sometimes you have to forget what the experts and friends and family say. Sometimes you just have to believe in yourself – completely – and go against everything that makes sense.

How Just Flip The Dog came about is pretty simple. Years ago I was a publisher in Alaska at an afternoon newspaper. Well, it was time for the presses to start rolling, and nothing was happening. I went down and noticed several people huddled around one of those old Mac computers.

The problem was every time they tried to print out a page to film, the image was reversed.  Basically, if it stayed like that, the entire paper would print backwards. Sort of like trying to read a right-to-left page verses a left-to-right page and flipped on top of that. Trust me, it wouldn’t work.

And they had tried everything – rebooting lord knows how many times, unplugging this and that and plugging in this and that, hitting every button and some they created, rewiring everything … you get the picture.

And nothing worked. And we were seriously past deadline.

And then I noticed the dog.

I don’t know if they still have them, but on the old Macs there was an icon of a dog.  Just an average dog. If the dog was turned upside down on the computer screen, the page on the computer would print out one way. If the dog image was standing normal, it would print out the reverse.

So I asked about the dog and they explained the above.

And in my brilliance I suggested they flip the dog. And of course everyone immediately told me we couldn’t do that because then the image would come out wrong and that wasn’t the problem and the dog was facing the right way and so on and so on.

So again in my brilliance I ask the simple question: “Isn’t the image coming out the wrong way now?”

And again I’m told how they can’t flip the image because that would be completely backwards and so on and so on.

By this time I’m pretty fed up, and in my strongest publisher tone, say, “Just flip the dog!”

So they did.

And hit print.

And the image came out the right way.

And we went to press.

The point, obviously, is what should have happened didn’t. In fact, the only way to get it to work was to do a complete 180. Throw out the rules, forget what the experts say, or the way it’s always been done. And in reality,  sometimes don’t try to fix it, just hit it from a completely different angle.

Sort of like life at times.

When I left Alaska, one of the gifts the staff gave me was a t-shirt. On the front was an image of the dog – upside down – taken from that computer program. Across the top, the words: “Just Flip The Dog.”

I still keep in touch with many of them. In almost every e-mail, they’ll sign it “just flip the dog.”

That always makes me smile.

And now you know.


  1. Betsy Perry

    WOW! I never asked….NOW I know!

  2. laura marett

    i’m betsy’s daughter. she sent me your blog, and i’m finally getting a chance to read it. i love writing too….and reading what others write. looking forward to clicking thru your posts…

    “flip the dog” in yoga is a pose. from downward dog, you lift one leg (huh-huh) and then flip yourself over the other way. yet another example of seeing things from a different angle…
    but your is a better story. 🙂
    thanks for sharing it.

    • Laura:

      Welcome to the site.

      My five-year-old loves “downward dog.” Tries to do it when the Little Black Dress is doing her yoga, or when she at least tries to without the Sons of Thunder all over her.

      Again, welcome, invite your friends

  3. David

    Brought a smile and fond memories of your quirky humor.


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