shaggy dog stories: the dog peeling the banana…

Sometimes the bark is worse than the bite. Sometimes its not…In the tradition of Greek mythology, Cerebrus, a triple headed canine, guarded the entrance of the gate of the dead, and served as a protector for those crossing over.Generally, the dog is a symbol of loyalty, fidelity and caution as well as protection ,domesticity and home life.Greek mythology also tells the myth of hunter Orion’s dog,  Sirius and Egyptian mythology has a nether world god with the head of a jackal called  Anubis. Chinese mythology reveres the hybrid Fu Dogs which are part dragon and lion.

Great Britain has the folk legend of  Black Angus,” who also went under the alias the “hound of hell” whose visit foretold an approaching death.  These mythological figures are embodiments  and clues to an interpretation of the dog as multi-faceted dream symbol. So, dogs have always been used as symbols since antiquity. It is one of our most complex relationships since the dog exists, outside functional reasons, for what they actually express about ourselves.

In other articles here I've presented the idea that a dog's behavior operates more along the lines of a natural energy system than it does either as part of a dominance hierarchy or solely as the result of reinforcement schedules. When we examine Freud's view that the Ego's primary role is to suppress most of the unbound energy contained within the Id, we can start to see that there's also a direct correlation between some of the basic precepts of Freudian psychology and with the idea that all canine behavior operates as part of an energy system. I think that's fitting, because Freud likened the human mind to a horse (Id) and rider (Ego), but he could just as easily - and perhaps more aptly - have compared the mind to a puppy and its owner...Lamartine by Cecaisne. Read more:

Psychologically, it represents the voice of reason. But the dog is descended from the wolf, which symbolically, depicts opposing forces. A wolf represents the primitive parts of our psyche and the dog symbolizes the rational. The dog howling at the moon metaphor is a reminder that we must be conscious of both parts of ourselves, our inherent duality, which is a predisposition to being susceptible and vulnerable to inner conflict and an absence of equilibrium.

Freud:“Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and hate in their object-relations” image:

White Fang, from Jack London’s novel is a study of this seeming contradiction, with the white connotation in juxtaposition to primitive and aggressive meaning of the fang.   This could mean that this soul torn between two impulses while being influenced by all.  In the   end, the fang loses its instinct and the hate and maliciousness  is removed by an almost divine intervention of Weedon Scott. This is metaphor for many things, including capitalism and other modes of social organization. There is also the contrast between a bulldog Cherokee, and the concept of death, and escaping from it.   When Cherokee had White Fang  between his jaws, it looked over until Scott intervened to rescue. The symbolism being   evil and tragic death can be overcome with goodness, a perhaps a bit of luck. But before London’s complex allegories and narrative, Thorstein Veblen saw the dog in the jaws of larger, equally complex forces:

“In this system, people buy things they can’t use to prove their status. Veblen argues that this comes from ancient and Medieval societies, where hunting and warfare were generally the realm of the nobility (the leisure class of their time period). Owning hunting dogs and weapons that one may never use was a sign of one’s status. In industrial societies, the rising middle classes also took to using possessions to signal status. People buy things to show that they are on the way up in the world, not because they are useful. It’s why people buy brand name clothes. It’s why people buy sports cars. It’s called conspicuous consumption. The term is Veblen’s own invention, although it is almost never attributed to him….

Gustave de Smet. "Newfoundland dogs probably became popular simply because they were common on ships. If you owned a Newfoundland, it was like being connected to these ships. You could signal your patriotism by owning one. It also helped that the dogs were gentle, very intelligent, and excellent family dogs. Those traits also played to another sign of rising social status, one could care about the children. One didn’t have to sell them into indenture just to make a living. One didn’t have to make the children work long hours on the farm. People with status can afford to buy pets for their children, and what could be better than an heroic Newfoundland dog? These issues play out today almost exactly as they did then. It’s just now the fads often don’t last as long as they did back then. Only a handful of dog breeds have been popular for nearly a century." Read More: image:

…It’s also why people buy “useless” dogs. It is no coincidence that the rise of purebred dogs and the mass production of family pets happens just as the industrial revolution begins to take off. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the dog everyone had to have was a Newfoundland. The dogs had a romantic history as working dogs on their native island. There were many stories of these dogs saving people from drowing, and how wonderful they were as ship’s dogs. Read More:

---All three were geniuses who made a major impact. However, even though Freud is now considered old-hat, every single one of Lorenz's views on canine behavior have been proven invalid1. And while Skinner's ideas still hold sway in most animal training circles, holes and cracks in his philosophy began showing themselves from the outset2. So even though no one thinks of Freud's ideas as being relevant to dog training, to me they're much more helpful, and much more relevant, than the Lorenzian or Skinnerian models.---Read More:



Lassie ‘s creator, the British-American writer Eric Knight, knew about dogs. As a boy in Yorkshire, he had heard many dog stories from his uncle. He also knew about the difficulties of life in that area of England and later mentioned that “Lassie Come Home” was never so much a story about a dog as about a man and a boy: a father who accepted fate and a son who still had faith in miracles and believed in dreams.

Joshua Reynolds. "We also have different species for people to buy. African hedgehogs are now replacing Chihuahuas as the pet to carry around in a purse. Pot-bellied pigs were a big deal in the early 90′s, but now there is an even tinier breed of swine that is being offered. Fad pets fit perfectly with Veblen’s conspicuous consumption. The mass production is one of the things that drives a lot of welfare problems in companion animals. Puppy mills are but one of the concerns connected to mass production. Narrowing gene pools to produce exotic colors is another, but this one often goes unmentioned. But this problem is hardly confined to Western societies." Read More:

After appearing in the Post the “Lassie” story was enlarged to book form and went through countless printings in more than 25 languages. The book spawned a popular movie Mat galvanized the career of 14-yearold Roddy McDowall and introduced the young Elizabeth Taylor. The movie’s sequel, Son of Lassie, was even more popular, and after that came a TV series that carried Lassie’s name to the far corners of the globe….

Louis XV. Pierre Gobert. "Our self-image is often inextricably bound up in our pup's behaviors. (We also often channel our inner parent when we interact with our puppies.) So we do everything we can to repress, and put a lid on - or as Freud puts it, "dam up" - the puppy's desires. There's almost no way around this. In most cases we're just trying to keep the puppy from danger. And when we're not, we're unable to see the link between the childhood battles we may have fought with our parents and the battles we're now having with our pup. Those battles are locked deep within our unconscious minds; the puppy just does what all good dogs do, he fetches them for us, brings them to the surface for us to deal with." Read More:

…The TV Lassie sometimes remained true to Eric Knight’s creation and sometimes went ridiculously beyond anything Knight would have approved. For Lassie was based on reality. The real Lassie was a collie named Tools that Jere Knight, the author’s wife, described as Eric Knight’s shadow. Read More: a

Fragonard. "However, Freud also made a distinction between Eros - the energy inherent to all natural drives and desires - and the libido - the reflection of that energy as it manifests in the form of personality. So while we may not think of a dog's urge to bite as having its origins in sexuality, it does. That's because there is - beneath the surface of both sexual and aggressive urges - an overpowering drive to connect with the object of one's desire. " Read More: image:

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Edgar Peters Bowron: Not all depictions of dogs in the Renaissance were lifelike or the result of firsthand observation, however, because many artists viewed animals as merely a vehicle for conveying a bewildering variety of complex and often contradictory symbols. Just as often as dogs were shown in Italian paintings as the companion of the young Tobias, protecting the youth as he wandered far and wide in search of the fish that would cure the blindness of his father, Tobit, they also carried the ancient burden of pariah, or scavenger, dogs, associated in the Old Testament with evil and unclean things, and in the New Testament with Christ’s persecutors. The dog was the faithful attribute of Saints Dominic, Margaret of Cortona, and Roch, as well as of the hunters Diana, Adonis and Cephalus, but it was also a symbol of sexuality and promiscuity. Yet church fathers, scholars, poets, and humanists were symbolized and accompanied by dogs. In Dürer’s engraving of Saint Jerome in His Study (1514; Bartsch 60), the saint works on his letters or translations, while his dog sleeps quietly nearby, a vivid symbol of the contemplative life. Read More: a

Carpaccio. Two Venetian Courtesans. "It is in the work of the Venetian painters Carpaccio, Titian, Bassano, and Veronese, however, that canine imagery flourished in a sustained fashion. One of the first Renaissance painters to employ scenes of everyday life in his work, Vittore Carpaccio gave particular prominence to dogs in two vastly different contexts: as a symbol of carnality or animal appetite at the feet of a seated courtesan (c. 1495; Museo Correr, Venice), and as a symbol of the attributes of a scholar in the form of a fluffy white Bichon in Saint Augustine’s study (c. 1502; Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, Venice)." Read More: image:

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