Dogs and man have always had a close relationship. They have helped us with numerous tasks, and we in turn have provided them with shelter, food and love. But there is a host of time-honored traditions involving the dog and we humans. Probably the most famous of stories are the ones about dogs that have pined to death after their owners have died. Even some of these stories are recorded and considered to be true.
Dogs lovers abound, and most of us consider meeting a dog a lucky event. This is especially true according to tradition if the dog is black and white spotted, such as a Dalmatian. In the sporting community, a greyhound sporting a white spot on its forehead is thought to guarantee one’s good fortune. In other circles however, there are those who become very nervous if followed be an unknown dog, especially a black one. In fact, in Scotland and Lancashire this is considered to be an omen of death. Interestingly though, in West Country lore being followed by a black dog is considered to be lucky.
A dog’s behavior is traditionally said to reveal a lot of things. For example, if a dog scratches himself good luck symbols, but seems sleepy, then a change in the weather will occur. If a dog eats grass or rolls in the dust, then rain may be expected. And according to US folklore, if a dog falls asleep with its paws drawn up and its tail pointing straight out, then death will appear in the direction that the tail was pointing.
There are lots of superstitions regarding dogs and death and the afterlife. Since dogs are widely known to have psychic susceptibilities, many of their owners will tell stories about haunted places that their dogs have been near. Some stories tell about how the dog will refuse to walk into the haunted place, and even have their hackles raised at some apparent apparition which is invisible to the human eye. And the black dog is very much feared in some cultures as the harbinger of death and disaster. It is even claimed that the devil will sometimes take the form of a dog while traveling along on his diabolical activities.
Many people dread the howling of a dog for no apparent reason. The thought is that the dog has detected the presence of unseen apparitions or evil forces and is warning its owners of someone’s imminent demise. Back in Medieval Poland and Germany, it was thought that a group of dogs howling incessantly meant the approach of the plague. It was also thought that if a howling dog is driven away, but soon returns to resume its vocalization, this is certainly an omen of death. On the other hand, if a dog howls three times and then remains silent, it is a sign that a death has already taken place. Also, it was once believed that if a dog howled on Christmas Eve it will be fated to go mad before the end of the year. Consequently, many otherwise healthy animals were destroyed as a result of this belief.
Our faithful companion the dog has a lot of surprising superstitions and folklore that shroud its past. Many people today probably don’t know even know one of these old superstitions about our dogs. But that’s O.K. We’re just too busy enjoying our pooches as our best friends and companions for life.
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My name is Diane Gray and I have been raising, breeding, showing and training dogs for over 20 years. I sure have learned a lot about them during this time! I consider training to be a very important element in raising your canine pal. A good training program can change your dog from a “pet” to a lifelong companion. The rewards that you and your dog will reap from training will be boundless!
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