Sacred and Healing Pets

Do you remember playing in the dirt as a kid? What fun it was! That’s one of the things that I love about working on archeological digs. Additionally, I believe that archeology and psychology, the past having an impact on the here and now and the future, are intimately related. I have worked on several digs, the last being in the city of Ashkelon, Israel, a number of years ago.
We were working in the time of the Philistines. Among the other amazing discoveries, there was a huge dog cemetery. More than 700 partial or complete dog skeletons were found. They were from the fifth century B.C. It is estimated that there were dog burials probably numbering in the thousands. Each dog was buried carefully and separately in a shallow pit in what might be called a fetal position. it was then solicitously covered with dirt. The dogs ranged in age from puppies to adult dogs. They were all given the same treatment. It appears that these dogs died of natural causes. This concern for the proper burial of what in some cases were probably dog fetuses reflects an intense relationship between dogs and humans. Yet, because many of these dogs lived only for a short time, if at all, the attachment could not be based on mere companionship.
It is thought that the Ashkelon dogs were revered as sacred animals. They may have been associated with a particular deity. It is believed that it was the Phoenicians who were responsible for the dog burials at Ashkelon and who considered the dog a sacred animal. Presumably the dog became associated with healing because of the curative powers evident from licking its own wounds or sores.
Working in this area of the dig was enthralling. We had to be so meticulous. We dug in each individual site, removing each bone carefully, brushing it off and placing it with care in the appropriate place. As I was doing this, I thought often of each of the dogs that I had had over the years. They were all sacred and healing in some way to me. I was devastated when I had to say good-bye to them.
Do you feel that your pet is sacred and heals you? My current dog, Dafka, heals me. It’s not necessarily by licking any sores or wounds that I might have. It’s just by being with me. When I’m down, he makes me laugh. When I come home, he is ecstatic to see me, and it’s not just me. Since he is a therapy dog, he sometimes does wonders for my clients. Once, when one of my clients called at the last minute to say that he wasn’t coming because he didn’t feel like it, I told him that Dafka would miss him. My client showed up!

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