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Description: Animals as metaphors: The way of the Dog (care)

You are at the dog explanationDogs are domesticated canines. The dog is a powerful guardian of human life and livestock. Celtic ambassadors were accompanied by dogs which acted like bodyguards. All the Southwest and Plains Indian tribes had dogs who would give warning signals of approaching danger. They helped in the hunt an were a source of warmth on long winter nights. If a dog has been yelled at or paddled, it still returns love to the person who was the source of its bad treatment. This does not come from stupidity, but rather a deep and compassionate understanding of human shortcomings. They have what seems to be a tolerant spirit that asks only to be of service. It takes a lot to break a dog's spirit. Of course, cruelty can warp this biological imperative.
The dog has a primary mythic role in all cultural life. In the Druid tradition the dog is seen as guardian of the mysteries. Just as a dog would guard its master in the physical world, the Celts believed it would guide and protect the soul of the dead. To compare a hero with a hound was to do him honor and pay tribute to his valor in battle. Figurines of dogs often accompanied Celts in their graves and favorite dogs were buried with their keepers. Later, dogs became depicted on gravestones for the same reason. In Bombay, Parsees would place a dog close to a dying person so that human and animal stared into one another's eyes. Many heroes were accompanied by a dog. King Arthur's dog was known as Caball, and the Irish god-hero Lugh had a magic hound that was unconquerable in combat. In India the dog is a symbol of all caste systems, reflecting the small becoming great. In early Christianity, the dog was a symbol of guardianship and it was even an allegory for the priest. It has also been a symbol of motherhood because dogs are very caring and nurturing parents.
Dogs bring guidance and protection, acting as a loyal companion. Throughout history dog has been the servant-soldier who embodies the loving gentleness of best friend and the half-wild protector energy of territorial imperative. The loyalty of the dog provides us with a model of devotion and service without expectation of reward.

The dog serves as the icon for care, the second element of heroism.


maphttp://www.ksu.edu/wwparent/programs/hero/hero-des-dog.htm--Revised June 15, 2005
Copyright © 1996-2005 Charles A. Smith. All rights reserved.