As many varieties of Dogs as there are, this is how many varieties of Totem energy the Dog can share with you. I will try to cover the basics, but Dog medicine has a very wide application, this is probably why so many people have dogs as pets. Dog also has a lot to do with creature comforts, which is also why they are so popular as pets in the Western world. With Dog totem you find the contrast between living with and by the wits vs. the lazy, easy domesticated life. Environment will do a great deal to influence this.
Dog totem isn’t exactly ‘one size fits all’ but close. Dog is a very all-around kind of totem to have, and your specific breed, coloring and temperament will give you a lot of detail about the wisdom your animal has to share with you.
Also, remember that some totems come and go in our lives, while others are permanent or lifelong. This brings me to one of the main qualities of Dog as a totem – loyalty. Dog medicine is loyal, it is unconditional and generally unfussy (but this can vary by breed). Dog is a pack animal and there is a distinction between the different roles that Dog can play within his natural tribe. If you live with a lot of dogs – like I do, 8 Tibetan Mastiffs – it is very different that living with just one. Living with a pack is all about society, managing many different agendas and keeping the crowd in check. When you live with a group of Dogs as a human, your ‘Alpha’ skills will be put to the test, since, with so many personalities to contend with, there is always someone who will find the cracks in your attention span and wiggle through! Totem Dog as pack is about finding and creating consensus, it is also about paying attention and managing the needs of a lot of beings.
The meaning of an individual Dog has a great deal to do with having a loyal, committed and devoted relationship. Dogs, and dog people are certainly devoted. Some can allow themselves to be misused because of this, but it is usually a choice. Dog will let you know if you’ve crossed the line, as all Dogs have a bark and the ability to make their displeasure known.
Dog totem medicine will be reflected in the type of breed that enters your life. A small hunting dog, like a Yorkie is very different than a Hound. Each category of dog medicine teaches something about the way in which that type of dog operates in the world. Hound for example may be teaching you a great deal about tracking things, remembering details and hanging in there until all the pieces fall into place and you are able to find what you are after. It’s a great totem for a detective.
Small hunting dogs like Yorkies and Terriers are all about focused determination and getting something accomplished no matter what obstacles come in the way. This is true also for the dachshounds, but being a hound there is more focus on the process than the goal.
Family style dogs like retrievers and labs are ‘fetchers’ and bring a sharp focus to the household on what is being ‘brought’ or bought. Often these dogs belong to people who are endless shoppers, after all, the focus is on getting things and bringing them home.
Mastiffs are hunters and more restrained than most other breeds. The medicine of the Mastiff teaches us how to go out and do what needs doing and ‘make the kill.’ Don’t let the sweet disposition of this type of dog fool you! Hunters hunt, and those with Mastiff totem must also hunt to survive. This dog will sharpen your survival skills and put you squarely in touch with your instincts. They can also teach dignity and confidence. After all, hunters don’t need to jump around for approval, they have all the skills they need to take care of themselves with our without you.
At the other extreme; the poodle is the only dog bred purely for fashion. As a totem though, Poodle is very useful in teaching us about human games, social graces and expectations. Poodle is probably the smartest of all the dog families and helps to teach those who have it as a totem how to properly use the mind, the intellect and mental faculties. Poodle with sharpen your wits, make you use them and teach you how to fight fairly.
Running dogs, like the whippet on the other hand, are very much about mental energy. As a totem this dog brings you into contact with a very high level of sensitivity, a finely tuned radar, intelligence and even psychic ability. But be aware that such a nervous type, needs soothing and comfort, which this dog totem teaches by virtue of making you aware of nerves and stress. This is a Dog that will teach you how to be calm! On the other hand, the runners are almost mystical in their ability to aid their owners on vision quests or other soaring flights of the spirit.
All dog medicine can, to some extent help you get in touch with your instinct, and also with the ability and need to quest for meaning and visions in your life. The Dog mind wants to do it’s own thing, and isn’t naturally inclined to obedience. Instead, Dog totem teaches about negotiating, training and gently guiding the self and others towards a desired goal or outcome. Of course this is a preference of training – but I never recommend being harsh or mean to an animal, it simply isn’t necessary and will create more problems in the long run.
In the end, the dog totem teaches us all about creating alignment, agreement and getting to a place of instinctual comfort and oneness with the self, the environment and the totem dog as well.