What is the spiritual meaning of the Dog? Loyalty and Devotion
What is the meaning of the Dog Spirit Animal Totem? At first glance, loyalty seems like a virtue to strive for at all times. But this Animal Spirit Medicine needs careful navigation and a bit of training to function well. Too much loyalty and service to the outside world in an effort to gain approval (aka safety) requires us to muzzle our own interests which can have dire consequences. Putting our needs aside for others may look like a virtue. It is certainly encouraged as a virtue by the outside world who applaud us for giving them all our energy. But this externalized loyalty at the expense of our inner loyalties leads to deep resentments that can result in nothing short of violent rebellion to break free of a self-made muzzle.
The Dog Spirit Animal Totem asks us never to muzzle our soul. Our soul (our interests, passions, and optimism) are our most loyal, loving best friend. Follow your passions and watch how they miraculously lead to deeper, more authentic social bonds founded on mutual respect and healthy relating rather than toxic service dependency. It is not selfish to be self-focused because what the self wants most of all is connection and friendship. We are not being mean to other people by not always being available. Asking our friends and family to find their own way to their own autonomy is the highest order of loyalty. No one has a personal problem they themselves can not solve on their own. We can be there for others as an example of self-leadership but we can not lead them into their own self leadership.
Helping another person out of a sense that they can not improve without us is actually a covert ego trip holding that person in a victim role for the purpose of augmenting our own misguided role as helper. We feel useful when we are helpful but we can not need another person to need us in order to satisfy our own need to feel valued. We are not needed by others to the extend our ego would have us believe.
Another aspect of the Dog Spirit Animal totem speaks of the dangers of group loyalty and how it can often lead to a false sense of innocence that compels violence in service to a group. Loyalty to a person or a community can bring such a powerful sense of belonging and purpose that it can be quite intoxicating. A need to preserve feelings of safety and belonging can often hold us in service to a destructive community even against our own inner knowing. Harmonizing with our environment feels good. But Dog is a tracker and asks that you keep a close watch on where activities are leading. What is really being said by that leader? Do you agree? Where do the ideas of this group lead? Do not let a desire to belong compel you to take actions that can are out of sync with your own inner peaceful nature. Aligning our loyalties to always striving towards an inner strength of character will prevent us from aligning with a misguided belief system that would seek to use us in a destructive way.
This is why the Dog Spirit Animal Totem guides us to always align our loyalties with spiritual values of peace, love, and acceptance rather than physical groups. When groups come together with a commitment to align with values of compassion and to track what is true even as it twists and turns, a long-lasting community of support is possible.
Loyalty to a single person or to a group at the exclusion of another person or group can often cause the delicate Medicine teaching of the Dog nation to become imbalanced. It is very easy to have too much loyalty to a person or a group in an unconscious hope that doing so will keep us safe. Truth keeps us safe.
When truth-seeking is not at the heart of a group endeavor, and members are asked to ignore or deny what they see and sense, it is only a matter of time before the structure of the group falters. Listen to the warning bark of the Dog Spirit Animal Totem and ask your inner own best friend what is needed at this time. Are you hungry for something? Thirsty for something? Crowded? Over worked? Give to yourself and don’t be afraid to be alone for stretches of time.
Harmony for harmony’s sake is dangerous. When we are loyal to virtues of truth, peace, calm, and patience, we aligned with a Warrior’s code of conduct which makes no assumptions about how something might unfold and which determines in every new situation what is right and what is wrong.
Can you acknowledge to yourself what is true even if it hurts? Even if it points out mistakes you wish you had not made? Loyalty to the Universal truth of reality enables us to stop wanting approval from an external source that will always fall short of support.
We can not stay safe in a world that is designed to change. But we can stay true in it and this will keep us as safe as it is possible to be. Being loyal to tracking what is true at any given time does ourselves a favor and arms us with a sharp awareness of every shift and turn on our unpredictable life journey. Denial of what is true out of loyalty to a social system is not safe.
Dog asks, what is true right now about the person or situation you are dealing with? Make a list of obvious statements about all you know and currently understand. Look at what you know and let yourself know what you know even if it goes against the group you belong to. Devoting yourself to following what is true even if it means breaking away from a relationship that feels safe but also painful will establish an unshakable bond with your Self, the unchanging, ever-reliable resource for finding lasting safety and belonging.
Physical attachments are how we enjoy life. Bonding with people, things, and ideas is how we expand and grow. There is nothing wrong with opening our hearts to a person and allowing ourselves to be influenced by them as a way to discover for ourselves who we are and where we stand. It may be time to acknowledge where our sense of loyalty to a person or a group is blocking our sense of loyalty to our own inner knowing.
The Dog nation is a deeply loving clan. Compared with the energies of saying the Lizard or the Spider, we have in Dog Medicine a deep joy in being of service. When in balance, the Dog Spirit Animal Totem will never ask you to suffer or make sacrifices. Dog energy is a master of forgiving and forgetting. Unlike Horse, who can really hold a stubborn stance, Dog energy advises yielding to maintain harmony, rolling over, and not fighting the powers that be. This could be an inner knowing you may need to yield to, or it could be an external acknowledgment to someone that you want to stop fighting and do what is needed to restore peace. To keep Dog Medicine balanced in your life, always ask what will maintain loyalty to your Self. Would apologizing to this person feel like a relief? Or would it be submitting in a dishonest way, hiding your knowing, just to keep loyalties in place? Never submit to a toxic relationship that asks you to stay small or silent. But don’t be above offering an apology if you sense you’ve made an error. People who are not able to admit when they are wrong are loyal to a facade of strength and are not able to know others or be known by others. Loyalty to discovering what is true for you inside at this moment will help you know when it is time to yield and submit and when it is time to stand your ground and defend your stance.
Dogs’ greatest joy is to be of service in order to facilitate safety, harmony, and respect. They are fierce protectors of what they love and Dog Spirit Medicine wants you to remember that you are always and forever a part of this Cosmic family. You belong here with all of us. You have a place in this world which can only be filled by you. You are important to the evolution of the global clan of Earth.
Aligning with the Universal system does not mean we will never align with individual systems. Detachment does not lead to enlightenment. It is only through individual connections we are able to know the Universal. Connecting to one heart, even if doing so eventually leads to separation, is the only way to connect with ourselves and the grace of reality beyond time. All hearts lead to truth. Connect to one heart and then follow your own. Committing to partnerships (both private and public) causes us challenge and pain. People hurt us. But staying safe will not keep us safe. Dog says, get into the fray. Stand your ground and be who you are in this dynamic at hand. You belong here with everyone else even if they might disagree.
So where do your loyalties lie? Are loyalties to a certain person or group causing you to deny a heavy feeling in your heart in exchange for an intoxicating sense of belonging? Is it time to break away from the safety of the pack and align with the deeper safety of your soul? Dogs are loyal to all the behaviors that create a sense of support and approval. Dogs know how to put aside grudges and forget about all the errors their human friends have made. Dogs are always in a receptive state of willingness to support others through affection and validation. We carry this Spirit Medicine in us. Speak to yourself the way you would speak you a beloved loyal dog. Remind yourself that you are good. You are loved.
Loyalty is not an obligation. It is a joy. Devotion should never feel tense, painful, dangerous, or unethical. Your most important loyalties lie with loyalty to yourself. Do what is needed at this time to stay true to your higher self and join a Spirit family of other brave souls just like you who always belong in the truth-seeking tribe. No matter how many dog fights you may have gotten tangled up in, you are a loving, innocent, affectionate creature with many gifts to offer and a great capacity in your heart to love. Call on the spirit of the Dog Nation to remind you of who you are.