[FOUNTAIN]Learn the qualities of the dogI am a dog and I have something to say to the people. These days, people look down on me and mention me in slang, such as in “dog ground,” meaning chaos, and “dog talk,” meaning nonsense. However, my ancestors were recognized as protecting the happiness of a home from evil spirits and bad luck. We also used to be praised for our loyalty to our master and the country.
The animals that wailed at the royal palace over the collapse of the kingdom of Baekje were my ancestors. According to Jeungbo Munheon Bigo, a Joseon Dynasty encyclopedia compiled in 1908, my ancestors in Jindo all barked in the direction of Japan and let Korea know of the threat right before the Japanese invasion began in 1592.
There is a tale of a dog told in Osu-ri in Imsil-gun, North Jeolla Province. The dog’s master had fallen asleep, drunk, by the roadside when fire broke out in a field. The dog ran back and forth to a nearby stream, sprinkling water around his master to keep the flames from him. By the time the master woke, the dog was exhausted and died. In honor of his dog, the master planted his staff on the spot. It grew into a tree, and the area is now called “Osu,” meaning tree of the dog.
There are many tales of bravery about dogs. Four-eyed heukhwanggu dispels evil spirits and hwanggu, the yellow dog, brings fecundity and a good harvest. the white dog, is said to guide the dead back from the netherworld when they return to life.
Westerners also believed in our kind as a mysterious animal that defended people from disaster. The brightest star in the night sky is Sirius. Appearing in the east right before sunrise, Sirius used to inform the ancient Egyptians of the start of the flood of the Nile. As the cycle of Sirius is repeated approximately each 365 days, it became a basis of the solar calendar. To the Egyptians, Sirius was a lucky star that helped them prevent floods.
The ancient Greeks said the fastest hunting dog, named Laelaps, became Sirius. Zeus was so impressed by Laelaps for driving away a killer fox that he placed it in the heavens as the Canis Major. Thus, Sirius is often called the “Dog Star” in the West.
2006 is the year of the dog. I hope you can learn my qualities of courage, loyalty and integrity this year. A confusing dream is called a “dog dream.” However, there also is a belief that complex things get resolved when you see me in a dream. How about having a dog dream tonight? Just in time for the year of the dog, the National Folk Museum is holding a special exhibition, “Dogs: Man’s Best Friend.” It will be a good way to learn more about how dogs have gotten along with people.
by Ko Dae-hoon
The writer is a deputy city news editor for the JoongAng Ilbo.