The hound has meaning in himself, and in relation to men and God. ‘Que me amat, amet et canem meum.’ This was a latin proverb, we know Saint Bernard of Clairvaux † 1153, the Cistercian used.* Saint Thomas More †1535, used it in english ― Whosoever loveth me loveth my hound.‡ The word ‘dog’ was a scandinavian import, hound was the anglo-saxon, it is the german word ‘Hund’. Now, this proverb implies a real friend will like, not just me, but in addition, that which is mine, is associated with me, and dear to me. Anyone who is not kind to my dog, is not my friend, and above all, this proverb says ― my dog is, my dog is my friend.
The Cynics were that school of greek philosophers, who, wanted to pursue the truth and held virtue as the highest good, and held them so tightly in their jaws, that, it could never be taken away. Kynikos = houndish, (canine), kyon is greek for dog. People often dismiss a person or comment with “that’s cynical”, or “you’re a cynic ”. They do not know what the word means, whence it came, they have relied on a misleading, and often false connotation. Other times they do know what they mean, they are annoyed with the truth, and prefer something else. Some people who were disappointed with people were cynics. They also were perceptive and right. They weighed man and dog, and the dog was superior. Diogenes was the Cynic carrying a lit lantern, in daytime, searching for an honest man.
If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principle difference between a dog and a man. ― Mark TwainThe stereotypical name for a dog was ‘Fido’. Fido comes from fides, fides = faith, fidelis = faithful. Odysseus (Ulysses) was gone twenty years from Ithaca. He returned dressed as a beggar, and only his dog, Argos, recognised him, after seeing his master, he died. There are many good names for hounds, though I have difficulty with people, whom, give dogs christian names, and people whom name children with names, that are beneath, the names proper to dogs. The symbol for the Dominicans is a dog with a torch in his mouth, from The Golden Legend. The pun on the name of the Dominicans, ‘Domini canes’, is Domini = Lord (God), and canis = hound, therefore, the hounds of God. Francis Thompson has the poem, The Hound of Heaven, in which the hunted is you.
The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs. ― Charles De Gaulle
There has been several saints, who are associated with dogs. Saint Bernard of Menthon †1008, the Benedictine, had a breed named after him (indirectly, from St. Bernard Pass in the alps), and a huge friend they are, carrying a small cask of brandy for you. The ancient bloodhound, had been, called Saint Hubert’s hound, Hubert had been an hunter, whom found the Lord. Saint Francis of Assisi tamed the wolf of Gubbio, a great poem by Ruben Dario§ tells this, in addition to the Fioretti. Saint John Bosco had his great protector, Grigio. Saint Roch was trapped in a pit and a dog brought bread to him.
Roch is the Italian, Rocco. There is in the church of Saint Rocco, Cleveland, a statue of Rocco and his dog. Rocco is shown with his dog, the dog has bread in his mouth. Rocco carries a pilgrim staff, and points to his wounded leg. One of the funniest moments of my life, funny in a joyously poignant way, was in this church. Saint Rocco’s had several alcove rooms. In these rooms there were prie-Dieus, and candles along with the statues. Someone had put a dog biscuit there for Rocco’s friend, in the place where candles would be set.
Well, I can go on ..., but, I will diverge to this last path. Dogs are with us. They are social animals, and they have accepted us as their own. They are confused why we stand so much taller than they. Now, we are to treat them well, as we are to treat all creation, but there should be a warm, soft spot for the hound. The persian poet, Nizami †1203, tells us the tale|| that Christ found beauty in, even, a dead dog.
‡First Sermon on the Lord's Prayer
§Los motivos del lobo
||The Eye Of Charity
paintings by John Emms.*1843, †1912. The faith of Saint Bernard, and Saint Bernard rescue dogs.