Should we ask instead: Who is a shoe dog?
Then, the most likely answer is: Phil Knight, the creator of NIKE, who recently published his memoir in a book with the title “Shoe Dog” . This book is a great introduction to the making and trading of running shoes. Within the context of the memoir, the phrase “shoe dog” resonates with the term “underdog.” The shoe-dog story is a side-tracked marathon over many hurdles—including supply difficulties involving the Japanese shoe industry, competition with Germany's Adidas and endless struggles with financial institutions and a bureau-kraken in the U.S.Customs Service—toward the eventual foundation and success of NIKE.
Here is how Phil Knight introduces the phrase “shoe dog” :
I'd heard this phrase a few times. Shoe dogs were people who devoted themselves wholly to the making, selling, buying, or designing of shoes. Lifers used the phrase cheerfully to describe other lifers, men and women who had toiled so long and hard in the shoe trade, they thought and talked about nothing else. It was an all-consuming mania, a recognizable psychological disorder, to care so much about insoles and outsoles, linings and welts, rivets and vamps. But I understood. The average person takes seventy-five hundred steps a day, 274 million steps over the course of a long life, the equivalent of six times around the globe—shoe dogs, it seemed to me, simply wanted to be part of that journey. Shoes were their way of connecting with humanity. What better way of connecting, shoe dogs thought, than by refining the hinge that joins each person to the world's surface?
If humanism and a view beyond just cashing in on products is your driving force, you can be certain your running track has not yet been leveled for you. Your daily seventy-five hundred steps may not always be forward steps.
Bill Gates praises the Shoe Dog as an honest tale of entrepreneurial business and also highlights the “underdog theme” :
Shoe Dog, Phil Knight's memoir about creating Nike, is a refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like. It's a messy, perilous, and chaotic journey riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice.
In summary, the phrase “shoe dog” denotes a profession, but also refers to an innovative entrepreneurial player.
Keywords: sports footwear; shoe innovation; shoe expertise; entrepreneurship.
References and more to explore Phil Knight: Shoe Dog. Scribner, New York, 2016 . See page 186 for the quoted text.
 Bill Gates: An Honest Tale of What It Takes to Succeed in Business. December 5, 2016 [www.gatesnotes.com/Books/Shoe-Dog].