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loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Saturday, February 23, 2013

of the dog, in the zend-avesta

From a 1906 survey on the history of the dog, some musings on the Zoroastrian compassion and respect for the animal. . .
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The references in the Old Testament regarding the eating of dead bodies, or the curse of being devoured by dogs, probably had their origin or foundation in the funeral customs of other nations. The Iranians had rites in which the dog figured prominently in the dispersion of evil spirits, being made to follow the corpse, which was then thrown away to be devoured by dogs and vultures. Yet the dog was more highly thought of by the Iranians than by any other nation of antiquity. In the Zend-Avesta, the religious book of Zoroaster, the dog is treated of at length.
"Whoever shall smite a shepherd-dog, or a house-dog, or a Vohunazgar dog, or a trained dog [probably a hunting dog], his soul shall fly amid louder howlings and fiercer pursuing than the sheep does when the wolf rushes upon it in the lofty forest."
Penalties are set forth in detail for injuries to dogs. In the case of a shepherd's dog the man committing the injury must pay for any lost sheep, also for the wounding of the dog. If a house-dog was killed, the killer had to pay for any lost goods and for the dog. . . . 
. . .Penalties were prescribed as follows for giving bad food to a dog: If to a sheep-dog, a punishment similar to that imposed if such food had been given to a noble; if to a watch-dog, the same as in the case of a middle-class citizen; the third section was placed as equal to a priest—not a very high placing of the priest, and this is taken by some to indicate that these dogs were wanderers and had no settled abode, the priests being of that class.
The section containing the foregoing extracts concludes as follows: "For it is the dog, of all creatures of the good spirit, that most quickly decays into age, while not eating near eating people, and watching goods none of which he receives. Bring ye unto him milk and fat with meat; that is the food for a dog." Elsewhere we read: "Whenever one eats bread one must put aside three mouthfuls and give them to the dog ... for among all the poor there is none poorer than the dog."
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From James Watson,  The dog book: A popular history of the dog, with practical information as to care and management of house, kennel, and exhibition dogs; and descriptions of all the important breeds (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company), pp. 15-16

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