Last Sunday, Nia, my corgi-cattledog and I attended "Woofstock" in Edgewood, NM. It was a celebration of and benefit for local dog rescue organizations. I'd heard there would also be agility demonstrations which is one of the reasons we went but sadly, if there was, we missed them. Nia is a rescue herself. I adopted her in Georgia from a group that had saved her one day from euthanization. Nia is such a fun friend, she makes every day special. I can't imagine if the world and I had been denied her presence because someone gave her up to a kill shelter. Being a cross of two herding breeds, Nia is incredibly obsessive. I can't bring her to any ball-based sporting event or she spends the entire time trying to get the ball and barking if she can't. And she adores coursing! Here is one of her coursing runs at the Society for Creative Anarchronism's Estrella War a few years back:
Night before last, in her obsessive need to find any and all creatures hiding in our woodshed, Nia somehow managed to take a huge chunk out of her toe. Poor thing. She bled everywhere. Then, because she sleeps with me, she kept me up half the night trying to remove the bandage I'd made her. So, in her honor, this week I am sharing the symbolism of dogs.
Dogs symbolize fidelity, vigilance and nobility. People born in the Year of the Dog, according to the Chinese Zodiac, are thought to be honest, affectionate, fair and open-minded. In Christian art, the image of a dog depicted at the feet or in the lap of a wedded woman represents faithfulness in marriage. One of the most well-know dogs is Sirius, Orion the Hunter's constant companion, a principal character in Greek mythology and astronomy. Dogs are also associated with the dead, thought to both accompany the soul to the next world and symbolize departed spirits. Some African cultures believe dogs are able to see into the spirit world. Various hounds show up in Celtic mythology, leading heroes in and out of the Underworld or hunting the souls of the dead across the night sky. Celtic lore often connects hounds to the sea (a symbol of the afterlife). This is seen in King Arthur's hound, Cabal who chased Twrch Trwyth into the ocean, the hounds of the sea god Mannanan, Aine's stone which attracted all the mad dogs of Ireland who then fell into the ocean, and Queen Nehellenia, a goddess worshipped at the point where travelers crossed the North Sea from the Netherlands, who is often portrayed with a dog by her side. Dogs are further affiliated with healing because they lick their wounds. Let's hope that works in Nia's favor, granting her a speedy recovery.
Ferguson, George. Signs and Symbols in Christian Art. New York: Oxford, 1959.