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Dogs in Ancient Legend
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Dogs in Ancient Legend
TUIREN THE WOLFHOUND In Irish folklore, Tuiren was a beautiful woman to be wed to Iollan Eachtach, but this love made Iollan’s faery sweetheart jealous. In an attempt to ruin the young woman’s wedding, the faery turns Tuiren into a hound and gives her to Fergus Fionnliath, a renowned dog-hater. This cruel act backfires when the Irish wolfhound wins over Fergus, teaching him to love not just her but all dogs too. In fact, the man is crestfallen when his hound is revealed to be a human. Tuiren’s nephew, the hero Fionn, cheers Fergus up with a new puppy! YUDHISHTHIRA’S STRAY The Indian epic “Mahabharata” is thought to date back to the eighth or ninth century B.C. and tells the story of two warring families. Toward the end of the tale, prince Yudhishthira and his family begin to ascend the Himalayas to reach heaven, and a stray dog joins them on their journey. One by one, Yudhishthira’s companions fall, until only the prince and his furry friend remain. When the god Indra finally appears to offer Yudhishthira passage into heaven, he brings bad news: The dog cannot come with him. But Yudhishthira refuses to abandon his dog, explaining that he could never leave such a loyal, steadfast companion. Anyone who’s turned down a great apartment offer because they don’t allow pets can relate.
Far before humans had written histories, we had dogs. From hunting and shepherding to playing and relaxing, our early ancestors had canine companions by their side, and their appreciation shows. As storytelling developed around the world, our four-legged friends became important characters. Here are a few ancient legends for the historical dog lover. TARASCAN SPIRIT DOGS Many Mesoamerican cultures featured dogs prominently in their myths and legends, especially in regard to the
afterlife. One of the most notable of these comes from the Tarascan state, an empire that rivaled the Aztecs. The Tarascans believed canine spirits would search out the souls of lost humans and guide them safely out of the mortal world. Leave it to dogs to create ghost stories with happy endings.
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