I bet you asked me to most people "Which animal is generally linked to bad luck?"All over the British Isles there are stories of Black Shuck, a giant black dog with bright red eyes who roams the countryside and is the incarnation of the devil.
Meeting this black dog at night is a really bad omen, and maybe even an omen. Islamic scholars tell of the time when the governor of Medina approached the prophet Mohammed; he was concerned about the number of stray dogs entering the city. These pariah dogs had become a major health problem due to the number of cases of rabies.
Mohammed initially took the uncompromising position that all dogs in the kingdoms he controlled should be exterminated and therefore issued the order to kill all dogs. However, after a moment's consideration, he revoked his decree the next day.
He did this for two main reasons: the first was religious, namely that dogs were a breed of the creatures of Allah, and the one who created the breed should be the only one who dictated that it should be removed from the earth. ond was more pragmatic.The Prophet noted that some categories of dogs, especially guard dogs, hunting dogs, and sheepdogs, were useful to humans and therefore deserved their right to exist.
While Muhammad overturned the death sentence for dogs that function and have useful functions, he allowed it to represent a class of dogs, namely black stray dogs. The reason for this is that he believed that the devil often appears disguised as a black dog.
The idea that a black dog could be the devil probably explains the superstition in Ireland that a black dog visiting a priest's grave means he has not fulfilled his vows. Similarly, in Germany I was told that a black poodle visiting a woman's grave means she has committed adultery.
The evil black dog continues into modern times. When the horror film series The Omen (about The Devil's Son) featured a story of dogs committing murder and mayhem, the dogs chosen for the roles were jet black Rottweilers. Lately, this superstition is manifesting itself in what people in animal shelters call "black dog syndrome," which means that black dogs are the least likely to find new homes.
They argue that it may be because such negative superstitions haunted the minds of people looking for a pet. Their view that black dogs are not viewed in a positive light seems to have scientific support.In a study done in my laboratory, we had photos of dogs graded, including a number of Labrador Retrievers that differed only in color. It is likely to be classified as aggressive.
But as with all things related to superstition, beliefs are inconsistent. Devil dogs are white throughout East Asia, and particularly in Japan. I have a colleague at my university who is married to a businessman who immigrated here from Scotland.
Apparently there is a belief in Scotland that if you see a dog with black and white spots or blotches on your way to a business meeting or negotiation, it is sure to be successful. She said her husband bought a Harlequin Great Dane (a white dog with black spots and blotches) as a family dog. To see this dog and of course to increase your happiness with it. She explained to me, “Harley is a very big dog to share your living room with, but who knows ... My husband's company is very successful.
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