The Tale of The Big Dog

Star map of Canis Major

Canis Major and Sirius in the night sky

Since time immemorial Canis Major, the Big Dog, has guarded all canines on earth, wild and domestic.  He watches over them through periods of hardship and persecution, as well as times of plenty and contentment and, when finally their time on earth comes to an end, he provides them with a place in the Great Kennel in the Sky.  Here they loose the aches and pains brought about by their years on earth and the hurts inflicted on them by humans float away.  They live with the joy and innocence of puppies and spend their days chasing butterflies and gnawing juicy bones.  By night they snuggle down, contentedly in warm hideaways, filled with huge squidgy cushions where they are safe and at peace

In the earliest days of domestication, dogs chose to share their lives with humans who appreciated their help and company, giving them a place by their hearths, whilst honouring and respecting them as partners. Each contributed according to their own abilities, with neither taking more than their share. 

Humans however became greedy; they wanted the dogs to hunt for longer and longer without giving them a fair share of what they brought back.  As the humans became rich, sleek and fat the dogs grew lean and mangy, but still they gave their loyalty to the humans because they had a great love in their hearts, which not even the selfishness of the humans could quench.

When the humans saw the dogs remained loyal their hearts were not softened, instead they commended themselves on their shrewdness and worked the dogs still harder.  On their return from hunting, the men handed the dogs over to the women, who took them into the fields to herd their animals.  By night, when they had finished their meagre food rations, they were no longer invited to sit by the fire to share a time of peace and contentment with the men and their families, but instead, they were turned out to guard the homes of the humans.  Even then however, although the dogs remained loyal the iron in the human’s souls did not lessen, but rather they thought of new ways to exploit their companions.

Dogs were forced to bait wild animals – badgers, bears and bulls – which sickened them, but they pitied the human’s ignorance and still they loved them.  When the humans saw this they hated the dogs for having a love that was beyond their understanding and they became consumed with a great evil and determined to destroy this love.  They therefore made the dogs fight each other even unto death. 

Because of this many of the dogs’ hearts were broken and they had no more love left to give, so some just lay down and died, whilst others turned on the humans and hurt them; even the most loyal becoming timid and afraid.  Then the Big Dog looked down from the sky and he was overcome with a great pity.  He saw how the dogs for whom he cared so much had been tortured and abused and he wept. 

Where those first enormous tears landed on the earth a great eruption took place and Canis Minor, the Lesser Dog, and Sirius came forth.  Then the Big Dog and his new companions came to walk the earth and set about putting right the many wrongs mankind had set in motion.

When the purging of the great evil on earth had been completed the Big Dog wanted to make sure that never again would dogs be treated with such wicked cruelty.  To this end he took away their adaptability and to each kind he gave a special skill, in order that different dogs would be required for each task, thus allowing others to rest.  To retrievers, he gave soft mouths, so they could fetch the birds humans brought down from the sky.  To collies he provided the gift of herding flocks of sheep and cattle.  Even the smallest dogs had their own gifts.  The little terriers could catch rats and other vermin whilst the minute Chihuahuas, the tiniest of all dogs were given a very special talent – that of killing snakes.  Thus humans would only be able to work with the dogs that had the skills appropriate to there lives without being so easily able to exploit them as they had done before.

When the Big Dog had finished his work he returned to the immensity of his celestial kennel taking with him those dogs whose hearts had broken, together with those who were too distressed to go on living with humans, so they might live in eternal peace.  Then the Big Dog looked down on what he had done and saw the humans working in harmony with the dogs and he was pleased. 

Will all now be well?  …  More comming soon

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