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Dogs Revered In Myth And Religion

Barbara J. Andrews, Editor-in-Chief and Member of NetPlaces SAAB

 

The dog is significant in all cultures as a “most mentioned” animal species but we don’t know where dogs came from and you didn’t know this…

 

We’ve put men on the moon, invented the hydrogen bomb and anthropologists know humans evolved in Africa 2 million years ago but we STILL don’t know where the dog came from...

 

 

Britannica puts domesticated dogs in Central Asia at least 15,000 years ago where they were revered by people who hunted instead of just gathering edible plants. Even so, the origin of the dog is a mystery no one talks about which is why you rarely really think about it...

 

Dogs are however mentioned 41 times in the bible but not always in a favorable way, i.e. in Philippians 3:2: “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.” And in Leviticus 11:7 “… but dogs were the embodiment of gluttony, scavengers sent by God to tear and devour.

 

The Greyhound is the only dog auspiciously mentioned in the Bible. Proverbs 30:29-31 “A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any. A greyhound; and he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.

 

 

Speaking of he-goats, archeological records maintain that goats and sheep were the “first domesticated animals” about 11,000 years ago. Indeed, they were a critical source of milk and meat but we can be sure that dogs protected those sheep and goats. Nowadays we call them “flock guardians.” For those who would note that goats are not flock animals and are smarter and better able to protect themselves, we agree but dogs protected their tiny “kids.”

 

And dogs protected our meager possessions. Yes, there was crime even ‘back then’ and lots of things to be wary of and we know how discerning dogs are!

 

That said, let’s look at more written-recorded history of dogs. A white dog is sometimes used as an informal symbol of the Dominican order of friars and nuns. Domini canes in Latin means "the dogs/hounds of the Lord." Jesus told of Lazarus, whose sores were licked by street dogs. The Catholic Church recognizes Saint Roch of 14th century France as the Patron Saint Of Dogs.

 

Jewish law requires Jews to feed their dogs before themselves. The dog is one of 12 animals honored in Chinese astrology. In Egypt, dogs have a sacred role and rulers were often buried with their favorite dog.

 

Hindus believe that dogs guard the doors of Heaven and Hell thus killing of dogs in India is illegal. Stray dogs cannot be beaten nor even confined but they can be caught, sterilized, vaccinated and then returned to their original locations. Thus, the stray dog population is manageable.

 

In Nepal, part of South Asia, dogs are worshipped in a five-day festival. In Greek mythology dogs were greatly revered as the three-faced guard dog of the Underworld. Dogs were of major religious and symbolic significance to the Mayans and Aztecs of central Mexico.

 

Dogs are depicted in cave drawings and when we learned to write (!) we described them as hunting partners, beasts of burden and guardians of us and our “stuff.” Dogs have fed us humans since before we were capable of recording time. They helped us subdue game we 2-legged mammals could not have otherwise killed or captured.

 

And yes, sadly, humans ate dogs and in 2022 that is still true in certain countries. But where did dogs come from? Europe, Asia, or the Middle East? No one knows!!!

 

 

We know all about the dinosaur and the duck-billed platypus. We know the alligator and crocodile evolved 80 million years ago and humans and chimpanzees only 7 million years ago.

 

But… there is not ONE definitive source on the origin of the dog. This statement is typical “DNA analysis published in 1997 suggests a date of about 130,000 years ago for the transformation of wolves to dogs.” ~ PBS

 

That “about” is crucial to all such non-definitive reports on the origin of the dog. Here is another credible but ambiguous statement. “Genetic evidence suggests that dogs split from their wolf ancestors between 27,000 and 40,000 years ago.” ~ Newscientist.com

 

There is no proof, no archeological evidence that dogs evolved, from wolves, coyotes, or any other wild species.

 

One would think that the origin or evolution of an animal so critical to the advancement of humans would be documented. It is not. Archeologists, Scientists and Theologians all have opinions on the origin of the dog but none offer indisputable proof.

 

Ancient Egypt does illustrate the dog’s complete and utter devotion to humans and some theorists (including this one) who recognize that dogs were a unique creation in all of the animal kingdom.

 

That said, did dogs evolve or were they created for humans? That question has never been answered but most historians and theologians agree that dogs were the first animals we “domesticated” over 30,000 years ago. Notably, it took us another 10,000 years to begin to domesticate horses.

 

Records of “planned” dog breeding date back nearly 9,000 years ago when dogs began to be used to guard our sheep. But prior to humans evolving enough to “think” about keeping sheep for mutton and wool, early humans added meat to their vegetarian diet.

 

Humans sampled meat from carnivore’s kills and at some point, the wolf-coyote-dog helped us find and bring down game. From the Greyhound (England) and Saluki (royal dog of Egypt) to the wolfish “native” dogs of the Americas, dogs have fed us.

 

Interestingly, the Greyhound is the only dog mentioned in the King James Bible, Proverbs 30:29-31.

 

Did our All-knowing Creator make dogs for us or as many scientists believe, both dogs and humans evolved enough to recognize and value the skills each had and thus became partners?

 

When we fought in the Philippines (1899-1902) we learned that South Koreans average 9 or more pet dogs even though they were more costly to feed than cats. On the other hand, Psychology Today reports Indonesia, Switzerland, Austria, and Turkey as having “three or four times as many pet cats as dogs.

 

That noted, dogs are recorded around the globe as helping, healing, and holding true to their reasons for being the most revered animals in human history, fables and lore. Look down at the dog in your lap or snoozing by your chair. Make a move to get up and your dog gets up to go with you. What other creature on planet earth is so devoted and so tuned into YOU.

TheDogPlace.org EST 1998 © Nov. 2022 https://www.thedogplace.org/Genetics/dogs-revered-in-myth-and-religion-b22A113.asp

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