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Even before the ownership, use, or domestication of the dog as we know it, the dog played a part in ancient civilizations.
In some of these societies the dog was not used to represent anything beautiful or heroic at all; instead its appearance was shunned and feared. The dog was most frequently associated with death and the afterlife, something that was dreaded by the majority of the people at this time. These times offered little religious faith, insight, or hope.

In later years, after the birth of organized religion in these civilizations, the dog's position was not improved. The Old Testament scorns the dog for returning to its vomit, and disdains the fact that it is a scavenger animal. Dogs in early Hebrew societies, at this time, were not desired or recognized as friend to man.

The Mayans, native to what later became the New World or America, also associated the dog with death. It was in the form of Nahua Xolotl, or Pek, the dog of lightening, which initiated the beginning of the final journey.

In these civilizations, in these eras, the dog had a bad reputation; the explanation may be due to the manner in which it killed its prey, by tearing and slowly shredding its opponent.

Despite this fact, both the Moslem and Hebrew cultures forbid making a meal out of anything that had been "torn by dogs," or even touched by dogs. While this may seem a bit extreme and "mean" to my present day reader, this was a safe practice (though probably unintentional) due to the frequent appearance of rabies in dogs.

Both the rulers and the people of this time much preferred the presence and domestication of great cats and birds, which killed their prey quickly and cleanly.



NEXT MONTH: Part Four, Dogs in the Far East


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