Celtic hound from a wine flagon, 4th-century B.C.
Dogs were connected with the Otherworld
in Celtic mythology. Because they licked their wounds, they were
believed to have magical healing abilities, and it was common
to find representations of them at sanctuaries devoted to healing.
Arawn, the Celtic ruler of the Otherworld,
had a pack of white dogs with red-tipped ears. The color red
was associated with death.
The Druids foretold the future by cracking
open the bones of dogs, cats, or 'red' pigs, then chewing on
the marrow or raw flesh.
detail from Gundestrupp Cauldron, 3rd-century B.C.
This is possibly a mother goddess
associated with war. Next to her right hand is a wolf or dog.
In Norse myth, two wolves chased the sun
and moon across the sky in order to make them move fast (apparently
they needed some incentive). On the day of Ragnarok, the apocalypse,
"the wolf chasing the sun will finally swallow it, to everyone's
horror...a second wolf will catch the moon, and that will be
equally disastrous" (Fleming, Husain, Littleton, Malcor,
One of Loki's, the trickster god's, kids
was a giant wolf called Fenrir that had to be fettered in order
to be controlled from its violent behavior. Odin, the ruler of
the gods, would have to do battle with him on the day of Ragnarok.
On that day, "Fenrir will advance with his mouth gaping
so wide that his upper jaw will rest against the sky and his
lower jaw against the earth--it would gape even wider if there
were more room...flames will flare out from his eyes and nostrils"
(Fleming, Husain, Littleton, Malcor, p. 133). Odin would be killed
and he would be avenged by his son, who would finally kill Fenrir
by pulling his jaws apart.
Tutankhamun as Anubis, from his tomb 1323-1333 B.C.
In Egyptian myth, dogs and cats were
kept as pets as guardians of the home. Anubis, the jackal-headed
god, was the guardian of cemeteries in his dog form. The jackal
is a member if the canine family. Anubis was responsible for
weighing a person's heart during his or her journey to Osiris'
kingdom, the land of the dead. The heart was put on one side
of the scales and the feather of truth on the other. If the heart
weighed more than the feather it meant that it was filled with
sin and was beyond redemption. Such a heart was then eaten by
Ammut, a monster with the head of a crocodile or dog, who sat
crouched under the scales.