It’s Summer, and I’m thinking about dogs. As I explained in a blog post a few years ago, I’m not a fan of the “Dog Days.” My favorite seasons are temperate Autumn and Spring, and then beautiful cold and snowy (in the best years) Winter. Notice the one I’m leaving out. I’m not a warm weather lover by any stretch – I live in northern New England for a reason. I was never even really a “dog person” for most of my life. I’ve been bitten by dogs (including my own at one point) enough times that I have been very wary about them ever since childhood. But since then I’ve met enough really sweet canine creatures (including our family dog Jake, when my kids were little, and currently my two doofy granddogs) that I’ve come to find a place in my heart for them.
When Sirius, brightest visible star in the sky, can be seen rising with the sun in the Northern Hemisphere (July 3 – August 11) we call these the “Dog Days of Summer.” Sirius is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, or the larger of the two loyal hunting dogs accompanying their master, Orion, through the heavens, and is referred to as the “Dog Star” as a result. Some of our ancient Ancestors believed that the added heat from this bright star increased the heat of the sun and made those days even more sultry.
Dogs are, of course, a large part of the daily lives of most of us. We see them everywhere we go. We may have one or more as part of the family, or have neighbors who have them and fret about the noise or mess they may make. They have special parks, individualized rules, and their own industries – grooming, walkers, day care, fashions, hotels, foods, medicines, special cleaners, etc. They’re movie stars, have beauty pageants dedicated to them and Instagram and the Internet are pretty much teeming with them. They have grown from their position as tentative wild animals begging for scraps at ancient fires to grumbling about being kicked off our beds. They’ve become our “best friends.”
I have a few dog Bones in my reading set, each having a different meaning. They reflect the symbolism of dogs in our culture. We see dogs as companions and friends. They symbolize loyalty and unconditional love. In our minds, they emulate the best qualities of human beings.
The paw Bone reflects this aspect of dog nature. When it comes up in a reading, it symbolizes the loyal friends who surround us – the ones who are there when we need them, and are happy to help. Because it’s a paw bone – “Give me your paw. Shake… Good Girl!” – it symbolizes the friends extending a hand. Often, our Ancestors are telling us through this Bone to allow these people to take care of us when things are difficult. It’s a reminder that we’re not alone.
Another Bone in my set is the dog tooth. The meaning of this tooth is caution – it signifies a “friend who bites.” Metaphorically speaking, there is someone in your life who may be masquerading as a friend, but is really something different when your back is turned – perhaps even working against your best interests. It’s a reminder to trust your instincts. If you see someone in your circle as insincere, even someone with whom you were once close, and you can’t shake the feeling even though you can’t come up with a concrete reason why this person feels “off” at this point in your relationship, consider distancing yourself from them.
And then there’s the dog claw Bone. This one has an interesting story attached. My husband absolutely loves German Shepherds, and has had a few of them during his lifetime. Before we met, two of them used to live in the home we now share (with a cat, but no dog yet). One day I was in one of the upstairs rooms and saw a shed dog claw on the floor. The dogs hadn’t been in the house for years at that point, and of course the floors had been cleaned many times since their departure. The claw was on one of the wooden floorboards, not between in one of the cracks. The room’s furnishings had been moved around a few times since the dogs left, and the lone rug in that room was one that I brought with me from my own home, and wasn’t there when the dogs were. This isn’t the only “serendipitous” bone in my set, nor the most implausible (let me tell you about the crab claw sometime..). But interesting, nonetheless. If this Bone should happen to come up for you in a reading, it can signify a few different things, depending on context. Because of its origin story, it can mean a friend you find in an unexpected place – meaning, keep your eye out for a hidden gem of a person, possibly hiding in plain sight. Again, trust your instincts, especially in a business situation in which someone may be working to advance your interests without you knowing it. The second meaning is similar to the tooth, since it’s also part of a dog that it may use for defense – a friend who may feel cornered and subsequently “claw” at you in a way you don’t expect. It could also be a friend who is encouraging you to dig into your psyche or your past in order to help you resolve some trauma or help you to cope with a difficult situation. Again, trust your instincts – if this truly is a friend who has your best interests at heart, let them guide you to healing.
Two other Bones in my set are in the canid family so I’ll mention them here as well. First the coyote claw. The coyote claw symbolizes a man (or, in rare cases, a woman with characteristics we stereotypically and traditionally – fairly or not – associate with machismo) who should be avoided and extricated from your life if possible. He is controlling, manipulative, narcissistic and arrogant, and only works toward his own selfish goals at the expense of everyone around him. He doesn’t understand love or caring for another person, and even if he professes affection, it only lasts as long as it serves his own purposes. He’s basically a toxic asshole. When this comes up in a reading, most people instantly know who I’m talking about, and I encourage them to distance themselves from him to the extent possible, as he brings nothing but misery to their lives.
The last canid Bone I want to mention is the fox baculum, or penis bone. Yes, you read that correctly. Human beings are one of the few mammals on the planet who don’t have a bone in their penis. I didn’t find this out until I was in my 50s. Now it’s something you know, as well. You’re welcome. Anyway, the fox baculum Bone is in symbolism somewhere in between the racoon baculum, which signifies a good, loving, caring, supportive man, and the coyote claw, profiled above. It’s someone who’s not a bad guy, but kind of a screw-up – a guy who may mean well, but just can’t get out of his own way. He may be manipulative, but only because he fears having to stand on his own two feet, and doesn’t think he can make it on his own. He’s the couch-surfer, the guy who owes everybody money and, though he has every intention of paying it back, has a hard time finding or keeping a job. His self-confidence and self-esteem is in the toilet. He’s usually got his hand out, is a bit of a whiner, has perfected the sob story, is kind of scruffy and unkempt, and he’s the master of the guilt trip. He tends to blame his self-inflicted troubles on circumstances beyond his control, or other people. When he turns up in a reading, he is a flashing neon sign to check and enforce your boundaries. As Ann Landers (or was it Dear Abby?) used to say – “no one can take advantage of you without your permission.” Learn to say no, guilt free (see my previous blog on the muskrat for tips on how to do this), and stick to your guns. Screen your calls, keep your door locked, make sure your couch is full of clean laundry waiting to be folded when this guy comes over. It’s okay to decline to help when you can’t (or just don’t want to) – in fact it’s one of the first steps toward consistent self-care. You deserve your own peace of mind, and taking care of others (even if the fox penis guy is one of your adult children) doesn’t have to take over your life.
The Dog Days are often hot and sticky. Keep your cool friends close this summer, and be discerning about those you invite into your circle. The “good dogs” are gifts to help you navigate your life. The “bad dogs” are there to challenge you to keep your boundaries and stand up for yourself. When all the metaphorical “dogs” in your life are the kind that are smiling and tail wagging, rolling over to have their bellies scratched, playful and there when you need them, loyal through and through, you know you’ve cultivated your true family pack. Woof!