For those new to the game, each poem is inspired by a Teacher found in Nature; a star, stone, animal, plant etc that holds lessons of Wisdom for us. Can you guess who is singing now?
“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion” Unknown
“Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.” Roger Caras
Faithful Heart Waiting at the Gate
Dogs are as many and varied as Man, but have been more often glorified in story, literature, poetry, song and film than possibly any other animal…and justly so! Some exemplify strengths, others demonstrate canine foolishness, and although each fictional Dog has a character all its own, together one can see the traits that make Dog so beloved by hum ans. The domesticated relative of the Wolf, dogs retain puppy qualities throughout their lives that their wilder Cousins shed with youth. Perhaps this is the reason wolves look down on, and even go out of their way to harass or even harm the domesticated canine. Perhaps old tales where wolves resent that dogs not only abandoned the Pack, but gave their devotion and service to Humanity instead have more than a grain of Truth in them. Years of being hunted down and driven out by the partnership dogs forged with man is certainly reason enough. Dog is a Teacher who carries both the Wisdom of Compassion/Empathy, as well
as Protection and Play. Dog often exemplifies what we truly mean when we refer to "humane" as a laudable quality. When drawn to Dog, one should examine as many breeds and relations as possible as they are all interconnected. German Shepherds, for example, were bred to help herd sheep, to protect the home and family. Noted for their intelligence, they are frequently trained as Police and Guide dogs. A “working” dog, Shepherds like order, rules, structure, regular physical activity as well as mental stimuli, and as pets have often earned the nickname “fun police” in their endeavors to keep the home environment harmonious. “Rough-housing” and general tickle-fests are usually met with worried barking, and even running in the house can be met with a reprimanding bark or two.
Shepherds, like many dogs, don’t like to be alone either, being very sociable creatures, and will act out in amazing ways if left alone too often. I’ve heard stories of Shepherds who let their owners know, in no uncertain terms, that they were displeased with them. These stories usually involve a large steaming dump taken on the owner’s pillow, shoes or other prized possession, or the dramatic destruction of things like couches, walls, clothing, etc. Dogs are not known for their subtlety!
Our own dogs are much happier with the efforts our family makes for communication to work reasonably in both directions. They work very hard to communicate their needs and desires to us, and forgive us our inability to speak their language daily. We have learned some of their key words, just as they have learned some of ours… “breakfast”, “lunch”, “dinner”, “hungry”, “park”, “walk”… you know, all the really important words.
I once got up in the middle of a conversation with a friend as we sat eating a snack around the dining room table. I brought back my dog’s food and water bowls, setting them down nearby. He asked why I had done this, and I replied that she wanted them and had felt left out watching us eat. He asked how I knew this, and I said, “She told me with her eyes.” Dodie Smith, author of the original story 101 Dalmatians, understood that dogs speak volumes with just their eyes. In this much beloved tale, she mentions that Pongo and Missus often tried to use eye words to communicate with their humans, but the one eye word they always understood was love. I have found this to be true.
Science shows us that over time we have literally bred dogs for a variety of jobs, needs and qualities. It also shows us that every dog is genetically hardwired to be attentive to our emotions, as opposed to their wolf cousins who could care less about our state, emotional or otherwise.* Dogs are pre-disposed to be aware of our emotional needs, making them natural therapy animals; some might even argue that dogs invented and defined the job! Nursemaids, they have patiently cuddled children afraid in the dark, or kissed away tears for countless generations. Literally protecting our sleeping generations from a variety of threats like attack, robbery, or even fire, dogs have befriended our species in a way that few other Nature Teachers have experienced. They perform silly antics when we've had a bad day, knowing instinctively that we truly need a good laugh. Dogs press a warm shoulder to your leg or rest a chin on your foot to remind you that you aren't alone, whatever trouble may arise.
Dogs, however well trained, are more likely to ask for forgiveness than permission when it comes down to something they reallyreally want. They are pretty clear about what they do and do not like whether it comes to potential edibles or competition for attention. Basically honest creatures, Dogs will growl at and follow suspiciously anyone they do not like or trust, hide when they are scared, leap for joy at the sight of their leash in their humans hand, turn up their noses at food they don’t like with utter disdain, and eagerly await a treat with obvious, oft times drooling or prancing, anticipation. Generally, you know where you stand with a Dog right up front. Dogs also prefer to convey and respond to such social stimuli without a major fuss; to establish pack order with as little actually fighting as possible, conserving energy better spent elsewhere. I highly recommend the Nova special Dogs Decoded* which studies our complex interaction and impact on this Creature Teacher. Science has discovered that Dogs are highly adept at reading Human emotions, and are capable of far more thinking than we have ever given them credit for! I also recommend Diane Duane's fictional work, The Wizard's Dilemma, as one of the most profound and insightful looks at Dog and our relationship with this Teacher.
Dog people are most successful when they can harness their keen instincts and sensitive nature with Awareness and Discipline. As a metaphoric example, every dog has a keen sense of smell. Not every dog has trained to use their keen senses to find and rescue people lost in the wilderness, cleverly hidden drugs or bombs. Exercises in Awareness and Mindfulness are just as vitally important to those called by the this Teacher as simple exercise. Dogs of all breeds require exercise, and so do people. Walking is not only good for us physically, it is incredibly important to the mental and emotional well-being of both dogs and people. Finding yourself consumed with anger about a situation? Walk until you feel calm enough to think rationally again. Walking allows us time for thought, reflection, and if we walk long enough, transcending all our daily clutter to achieve a meditative state. Regular exercise helps us to combat a variety of ills from obesity to stress. Choosing exercise over say a tub of ice cream and your favorite t.v. show requires discipline. Awareness, to me, begins within and spreads outward. It is important to be mindful of our own needs, behaviors, choices and feelings. It is important to be Aware of and take into consideration the needs, etc of others. Am I growling at others when I am really frustrated with myself? Am I enabling myself to make easier choices rather than better ones? Am I giving away too much of my time to others, and ignoring my own needs? Do I recognize that things like "play" or "nap" time are valid needs too? Am I complaining about the behavior/choices of others when I should be focusing on improving my own behavior/choices? These are all good Dog questions I have asked myself at one time or another. Dog people tend to form packs that they are fiercely loyal to, making it extremely important for those called by this Teacher to choose wisely where and to what extent to apply our Loyalty. Supporting one's friends for example, is good. Supporting them blindly, however, even when their choices are harming themselves or others is not good or healthy for anyone. Seeing the good, the best potential, in others is a gift. Recognizing that everyone also has a Shadow where they hide their less laudable deeds, motivations and choices takes Wisdom. Choose people for your pack who are willing to recognize and work on their own issues; we all have them. Choose people who would rather help you up than keep you down. Nobody ever made themselves great by tearing at others. Perhaps most importantly, choose to be one of those people! I only hope I can be half the person my dogs believe I am.
“He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds. He is the part of me that can reach out into the sea. He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being; by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile; by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him. (I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.) When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive. When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile. When I am happy, he is joy unbounded. When I am a fool, he ignores it. When I succeed, he brags.
Without him, I am only another man. With him, I am all-powerful. He is loyalty itself. He has taught me the meaning of devotion. With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace. He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant. His head on my knee can heal my human hurts. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. He has promised to wait for me… whenever… wherever " in case I need him. And I expect I will " as I always have. He is just my dog." Gene Hill
Potential Balancing Energies for dogs in general: Wolf, Coyote, Dingo, Hyena, Fox and other Canines, Cats, Snakes, Deer, Cattle, Horse, Rabbits, Sheep, Fish, Frog, Squirrel, Rat and other Rodents Birds like Crow, Duck, or Hawk, Insects like Fly, Tick, Flea, Lepidoptera, and Arachnids. Plants like Dog Rose, Dogwood, Pennyroyal, Grasses, Greater/Lesser Plantain, Pine, Oak, Apple, Cherries or Sweet Potatoes. Water, Earth, the Moon, and stars like Sirius. Stone people like
Associated Deities, Mythic and Popular figures: Numerous fictional works from Rin Tin Tin to Frank from Men in Black. The Fool, Brighid, Hecate, Hades, Cerebus, Anubis, Wepwawet, Set, Osiris, Xolotl, Mars, Kukkuripa, Kukuraja, Bau, Inanna, Leto, Artemis, Apollo, Zeus, Romulus, Remus, Odin, Fenrir, Indra, Cuchulainn
Key Concepts: Loyalty, Devotion/Unconditional Love, Protection, Empathy, Companionship, Nobility/Royalty, Faithfulness, Spiritual/Divine guardianship, Service, Selflessness/Selfishness, finding the hidden, sensing the unseen, and healing, Faith, Trust, Tracking/Hunting, Adventure/Curiosity, Vocalizing Truths,
Faithful service, loving devotion, the small becoming great, Instinct and Reason in harmony, noble heart, great spirit… Dog embodies all of these things. Whether human or canine, Alphas exemplify all that is best in the breed. Well-balanced Dogs inspire us to better ourselves, be loving and generous with our fellows, work diligently for the good of all, and to become that which inspires us, to be a leader and set a good example for your pack, the World. Is it any wonder that so many people are enamored of this marvelous and generous Creature Teacher? How does Dog appear in your life?