Do dogs really have such a bad life?
After reaching the point where you can claim to be fluent in a foreign language you can fully appreciate some of the particularities of the language that you've acquired. One of my favourite things about the Italian language are the phrases which involve various animals.
Quattro gatti. For some reason, a small amount of people can be expressed as a specific number of cats -or gatti - namely four. Working in an office in Italy in August? More than likely you'll be one of the four cats who aren't on holiday.
Solo come un cane - lonely as a dog. For some reason or other in Italy man's best friend is lonely. Dogs are also related to other negative images, for example if you're heartbroken after the end of a relationship you could say that you are 'suffering like a dog', sto soffrendo come un cane. And one way of expressing that it's absolutely freezing is to say fa un freddo cane - it's a dog cold!
Conosco i miei polli - Literally 'I know my chickens'. It's the image of a farmer or a breeder knowing their animals and what their behaviour's like. It's a way of saying that you know what somebody, a friend, colleague, family member etc, is like and how they normally behave in certain situations. Somebody asks you if your lazy housemates will do the cleaning whilst you're away on holiday? Oh no no, you know your chickens...