Dog stories from 12000 BCE

Domesticated dogs are loved, pampered, gainfully employed; some are ignored, mistreated, and many often end in animal shelters where some find new homes, affection and purpose.   While Western culture is probably the most likely to have dogs as pets,  hunting dogs, service animals and K-9 trained working dogs,  other cultures have them serve as farm protectors, herding sheep, and protection from predators.

Some believe that it is cultural for Middle Eastern  and Near Eastern people to dislike dogs and some religious sects (particularly Iran)  dissuade people from keeping pet dogs to dissuade them from imitating European or American ideas.  Yet dogs lived with ancient neolithic cultures 14000 years ago.   The authors of the articles that discussed the history of dogs in ancient culture, may provide insight into the reticence  that some modern cultures display due to the prevalence of rabies.  With the rabies vaccine being a modern remedy, and still not readily available in some remote regions of the middle east and Central Asia, a rabid dog bite would result in almost certain and painful death.   But a study of ancient history finds that many cultures from Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, India and  Mesoamerica kept dogs for huntings, as royal pets, and figured in their mythology and theology.

In the small group Bible study that I conducted tonight, a study on God’s sovereignty in the believer’s life,  one person brought up the illustration of the Samaritan woman who recognized the supremacy (authority) of Jesus.  She approached him to save the life of her dying son.   It was the passage in Matthew 15 :21 -27 where Jesus tell her that he came to save the Jews.  He tells her :


24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”  25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.  26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”   27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.”

According to scholars, Jesus is not calling the woman a dog nor is he unfavorable toward dogs themselves yet  some imagery in the Bible relates an ancient Jewish cultural view of dogs to diseased and as unclean animals;  this may be due to wild dogs given to running in packs and surviving  eating garbage and on the battlefield, corpses.  There is a passage about evil Jezebel being eaten by dogs.  It was not until the late Hellenistic period in Israel that attitudes toward dogs as pets changed.   However,  the Samaritans apparently kept dogs as pets (eating the crumbs under the table).

So I realize now that it may be economic and for public health reasons that some cultures do not keep pet dogs.  Other cultures have religious bias that deeper study might reveal that there is no religious prohibition to pets.   Through cultural amelioration and modern interconnected world that dogs now benefit.   As for eating the crumbs beneath my table, my animals eat well.  Whether the dog chow or something that slips off my plate, it is a rare day that any crumb is missed by either of my dogs.  In fact, when cooking or eating occurs at my house,  there are two sets of smacking lips and slurping tongues willing to assist at any time.

the image is from Pompeii where dogs as a guardian is immortalized in this 2000 year old mosaic

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