No Accident DOG is GOD Spelled Backward
If you’re a lifetime dog parent as I am, you know that dog is god spelled backward.
To me, there’s nothing on Earth as heavenly as having my morning cup of coffee, mug in one hand, while petting and scratching my faithful dog’s head and happy spots with the other – her chin resting on my chest, and eyes staring adoringly into mine. That’s how I like to start my day!
There’s something divine, spiritual, supernatural, about these precious creatures that so enrich our lives. Our dogs worship us and we worship them just as much. We are all the better for it in so many ways.
We know our dogs are the utmost loyal companions. Dogs love us unconditionally, are always excited to see us, and enjoy our company. They give us complete eye contact, follow our every word lovingly and dutifully, and never desert us.
To them, we humans are their gods.
It’s hard for a loving dog parent to imagine a world without his or her dog. We have a difficult time understanding how some humans can go through their lives without experiencing the love of a canine companion.
As a dog parent, music lover, and lover of love, I think a world without dogs would be worse than a world without music, and almost as bad as a world without love.
From Cro-Magnons to Frederick the Great
Digging a little into the history of this dog is God relationship between dogs and their humans, the phrase “dog is man’s best friend” is attributed to Frederick, King of Prussia (aka Frederick II, Frederick the Great, or “Ol’ Fritz”) in 1789, in a reference to one of his Italian Greyhounds.
Sometime in the next few decades, the phrase crossed the ocean, and its earliest citation in America was in a poem printed in The New-York Literary Journal, Volume 4, 1821:
“The faithful dog – why should I strive
To speak his merits, while they live
To speak his merits, while they live
In every breast, and man’s best friend
Does often at his heels attend.”
We know animals have served as spiritual companions to humans since the beginning of recorded time, and likely long before that. The earliest indications of this spiritual connection found to date are in the 20,000+-year-old cave paintings by Cro-Magnons in Lascaux, France and Altamira, Spain.
Animals have served a variety of spiritual functions in most cultures. They have been linked with supernatural forces, acted as shamans and guardians, and appeared in images of the afterlife. They have even been worshiped as agents of gods and goddesses.
That dogs in particular touch us in a deeply visceral, central place is prevalent in history of the human-animal relationship.
Numerous ancient creation myths depict God with a dog. Although these stories do not explain the existence of the dog, like God, the dog is assumed to have existed from the beginning. In this assumption, primordial people revealed their intense attachment to their animal companions.
What ‘Dog is God Spelled Backward’ Means to 21st Century Humans
Dogs offer us post-primordial 21st century humans something just as fundamental as they did the ancients: a direct and immediate sense of both the joy and wonder of creation.
Dog lovers recognize or at least perceive that we seem to feel things like joy or heartbreak more intensely and purely than people without dogs. Perhaps it is because we pet people yearn to express ourselves with such integrity and abandon, while pet-less people tend to be more stiff and humorless.
On the wonderment side, animals fully reveal to us what we already glimpse. We sense that through our relationship with our dogs we can recover that which is true within us, and, through the discovery of that truth, find our own spiritual direction.
Dogs teach us how to love, how to enjoy being loved, and how loving itself is an activity that generates more love.
Through our contact with dogs, we can learn to overcome the limits imposed by difference; we can reach beyond the walls we have erected between the mundane and the sacred.
They can even help us stretch ourselves to discover new frontiers of consciousness. Although dogs cannot “talk” to us, they do communicate with us using a language that does not require words.
Dogs can lead us spiritually by teaching us about death, participating in our social and moral development, enhancing our physical and psychological well-being, heightening our capacity to love, and helping us experience joy.
Any spiritual discipline within any tradition invites us to open our hearts and minds as well as our ears. This invitation represents an ongoing exercise: the desire and attempt to open to others is the essence of the spiritual process.
The Science of Dog is God – Hormones
Science magazine published a recent study conducted at Japan’s Azabu University that may contain the key to understanding the timeless bond between people and dogs. According to the researchers, when dogs and humans gaze into one another’s eyes, each experiences a surge of oxytocin being released into the bloodstream.
This hormone, associated with trust and love, is largely responsible for maternal bonding.
While some people seek counseling in times of great distress or illness, a dog can and will be happy to keep you company. A dog knows when to offer comic relief when you need a good laugh. And, if you give your heart to a dog, he will never break it.
As anyone who has lost a beloved pet knows, the experience is like losing the better part of one’s self. Many people instinctively feel that dogs are much more than their soft fur and big eyes.
Building on that impulse, and on the success of animal/people memoirs like John Grogan’s “Marley and Me” (Morrow, 2005) and animal-centered novels like Garth Stein’s “The Art of Racing in the Rain” (Harper, 2008), one can easily be convinced that dogs are spiritual beings with lessons to impart.
The dogs I have had the pleasure and honor to rescue and love regularly visit me in my dreams and continue to offer comfort and affection from beyond.
How godly is that?
Marilyn Eisenberg is a nationally exhibited fine artist, award-winning educator, published writer, art/design consultant and public relations/marketing specialist to Fortune 100 companies, nonprofit organizations and private clients. She has been rescuing Labrador Retrievers since the 1980s.