“Dogs are God’s way of proving that He didn’t want us to walk alone.” – Unknown
Some say dog is God spelled backward, some believe that statement to be blasphemous, irreverent, or at the very least, disrespectful, but is it? A blasphemous statement would be the dog is God, which it is not. Dogs are not deities regardless of how fiercely we love them.
I have always been drawn to the ancient Egyptian civilization and culture. It is believed the ancient Egyptians domesticated the dog prior to the Pre-Dynastic Period (c.6000 – c. 3150 BCE). Evidence of domesticated dogs has been found in graves and tomb etchings leading scientists to believe dogs were highly regarded as hunters, guard dogs, and beloved companions to the Egyptians. Evidence of leashes and collars have also been found, some with names on them, some very elaborate made with gold and silver.
The ancient Egyptians also believed dogs guided one through the afterlife as they had during their earthly existence. Their belief led to the development of one of the oldest of the Egyptian gods, Anubis, depicted as a powerful black canine-jackal hybrid or as a man with a jackal head who protected the newly buried corpses from being dug up by the wild dogs. Eventually, Anubis was regarded as the god who stood by the dead in the afterlife to assist them in their resurrection.
As with most things, there was a dark side to the ancient Egyptians reverence for their canine companions; the first puppy mill was started to breed dogs for the sole purpose of sacrificing to Anubis. Today we cringe at the thought of a puppy mill but in context, the Egyptians with their strong belief in the afterlife were actively interested in keeping Anubis happy. Eventually, all would need his services!
The ancient Hebrews and early Christians did not think as kindly of the dog as did the Egyptians. Biblical references to dogs are negative; Jesus referred to the Gentiles as dogs, in other words, the Gentiles were unclean in comparison to the Jews. In some Biblical references, comparison to a dog meant one was evil or of low social status, and there are references indicating violence toward dogs was acceptable throughout.
Herein is one of the many examples of the contradictions within scripture, and why I believe mankind has formed God in his image instead of the other way around. In the story of creation, God made all creatures; those of the air, land, and sea, and breathed life into their souls. God declared everything He created ‘good’ and then rested from His creative work on the seventh day. Some Christians believe God hates dogs, some say God hated dogs until they became domesticated. If dogs were ‘good’ in the beginning, at what point did they become a metaphor for evil; when the humans fell from grace? How does that make sense?
I believe mankind has done his best to form God in his image, to put words in God’s mouth, to interpret however it suits man’s purposes at the moment. I believe dogs and every other animal with the breath of God in its soul, including the human animal, are extensions of the Divinity of God. All were declared good. Mankind alone was given the freedom to choose good or evil, and choose we do to this day. It’s as simple as that.
And, I believe God endowed the dog with an extra dose of loyalty, mercy, forgiveness, and unconditional love so that we would be reminded God walks with us. Dog is God spelled backward…..