We are intelligent, inquisitive creatures. There is no denying that. So if we see Mom immersed in study, we have this undying spark to be a part of it. It does not have anything to do with the exam fever we wrote about the last time in The give and take of exams. It is because – and let us make it clear – we are intelligent, inquisitive creatures. So it does not take much for us to peer over Mom’s shoulder as she studies something called mythology of far off countries and realise that we, as members of the canine family, are as much a part of mythology as anything else. And that mythology is a part of us.
Mom is reading something called The Odyssey. It is Greek to us except for Argos. This tired old forefather of ours waits for twenty years for the return of his master and is the only one to recognise him when he returns in disguise. We know what it is like to wait for the return of our humans; time stretches into what seems like years and we know, just know, when they have returned. Mom swears she knows when Big Sis has stepped into the lift on the ground floor by the way we make our way to the door. She knows Dad has just stepped into the foyer minutes before she does with us on leash, even if she does not see him, because of the way we go crazy between the foyer door, through the lift ride, up to the main door of our apartment. Dad may be lost in the idiot box but no matter what time Mom leaves for her walk, he can tell when her customary 45 minutes are up by the way we move our graceful behinds towards the entrance from whichever part of the house we are in. And we do it only for them. The world may come and go but we could not care less.
Nuada of Celtic mythology had dogs to help him as he healed. Their licks could heal people’s wounds. Stands to reason. Even today, it is we dogs who have that magical power to make the bad go away. The best cure in the world is a lick or two to set matters right. Ask any of our humans. Big Sis loves to cuddle us when she is blue, and Mom has had dogs who used to lick away her tears even before we were a twinkle in our blood Dad’s eye. Simply petting us calms breathing, lowers blood pressure and stress, and raises the happiness level in the human body. We could but will not – out of modesty – dash off numbers about ‘therapy dogs’ in hospitals, schools, nursing homes and disaster areas. Somewhere, whether humans formally provide a label or not, all of us dogs are comfort and cure, both with a capital C.
Foo dogs may look slightly different but they ensure you are protected. They provide balance, fight negative energy and ensure positive energy. Actually all dogs could be Foo dogs. A house with dogs will always have positive energy ☺. And we have a nose for negative types. We cannot and will not welcome or accept anyone who does not wish well for our humans. No amount of treats and commands will win us over or silence our deep growls in the presence of that evil. We have a cousin, a legend in the family, with Granny and she has learnt to be wary of those growled or snapped at, and in some case bitten, by him. His instincts are unerring.
Whether Cerberus or dogs in Hindu mythology, we are also supposed to be guardians of the gates of heaven and hell. The dog who followed Yudhishtira in the Mahabharat all through his penance is well known. Humans today watch sci-fi shows on the bridge between various worlds but dogs have been the link between earth and other worlds throughout mythology, making ‘top-rated’ shows obsolete even before humans aimed their gizmos at the idiot box to tune in.
What we have learnt over Mom’s shoulders is that we have an ancient, glorious heritage. We are and have always been magical, inspiring, ferocious, loyal, sensitive, protective, and adorable. No wonder in Nepal, there is a festival dedicated to thanking us. Humans are perfectly justified in worshipping the ground we walk on. Intelligent, inquisitive creatures that we are (in case we have not already mentioned it), we therefore conclude that the canine fellowship today shows atavistic qualities. That’s our Word of the Day (WOD) – atavistic, a WOD befitting intelligent, inquisitive, mythical creatures.