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Hinduism

A dog after being decorated in Kukur tihar
A dog after being decorated in Kukur tihar

Dogs have a major religious significance among the Hindu in Nepal and some parts of India. The dogs are worshipped as a part of a five-day Tihar festival that falls roughly in November every year. In Hinduism, it is believed that the dog is a messenger of Yama, the angel of death, and dogs guard the doors of Heaven. Socially, they are believed to the protectors of our homes and lives. So, in order to please the dogs they are going to meet at Heaven's doors after death, so they would be allowed in Heaven, people mark the 14th day of the lunar cycle in November as Kukur-tihar, as known in Nepali language for the dog's day. This is a day when the dog is worshipped by applying tika (the holy vermilion dot), incense sticks and garlanded generally with marigold flower.

 

Chinese tradition

The dog is one of the 12 animals honored in Chinese astrology. The second day of the Chinese New Year is considered to be the birthday of all dogs and Chinese people often take care to be kind to dogs on that day.

 

Christianity

A dog is mentioned in the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit, faithfully accompanying Tobias, Tobit's son and the angel Raphael on their journeys.

Statue of Saint Roch with his dog, in Prague, Czech Republic
Statue of Saint Roch with his dog, in Prague, Czech Republic

Jesus told the story of the poor man Lazarus, whose sores were licked by street dogs. This has traditionally been seen as showing Lazarus's wretched situation. However, some modern commentators have pointed out that the dogs' saliva, which contains lysozyme (an enzyme with antibacterial qualities), could have beneficial effects on the sores.[58]

The Catholic Church recognizes Saint Roch (also called Saint Rocco), who lived in the early 1300s in France, as the patron saint of dogs. It is said that he caught the black plague while doing charitable work and went into the forest, expecting to die. There he was befriended by a dog which licked his sores and brought him food, and he was able to recover. The feast day of Saint Roch, August 16, is celebrated in Bolivia as the "birthday of all dogs."[59]

 

Islam

Islamic tradition considers dogs to be unclean and most Muslims do not keep pet dogs. There are a number of traditions concerning Muhammad's attitude towards dogs. He said that the company of dogs, except as helpers in hunting, herding, and home protection, voided a portion of a Muslim's good deeds. On the other hand, he advocated kindness to dogs and other animals. In one story, it is said that a prostitute was at a watering well and was about to take a drink when she noticed a dog which was so thirsty, it was trying to drink the sand. Out of mercy, she gave the dog the first drink out of her shoe. When God saw this, he forgave her sins.

 

Atheism

Some atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, have used the example of the dog to satirise young earth creationism, stating that the domestication of the dog is known to have occurred before its claimed creation of the universe.[60]

In an article in the New York Times Magazine atheist Natalie Angier quoted Frans de Waal, a primatologist at Emory University:

"I've argued that many of what philosophers call moral sentiments can be seen in other species. In chimpanzees and other animals, you see examples of sympathy, empathy, reciprocity, a willingness to follow social rules. Dogs are a good example of a species that have and obey social rules; that's why we like them so much, even though they're large carnivores."[61]
A Newfoundland, the breed Byron eulogized, painted by Edwin Henry Landseer, 1802–1873
A Newfoundland, the breed Byron eulogized, painted by Edwin Henry Landseer, 1802–1873

In 1808 the English poet Byron expressed similar thoughts in his famous poem Epitaph to a Dog:

But the poor dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still his master's own,
Who labors, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
Unhonored falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied in heaven the soul he held on earth –
While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.[62]

 

 

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