Ancient Chinese People and Their Pets

Ancient Chinese people liked pets as the European did. In our China, there is a breed of native dogs. This breed of dogs is likable as poodles and brave as shepherd dogs. Now they mainly live in small cities and villages. Nowadays rich people only want to buy costly foreign breeds of dogs, and they think foreign breeds of dogs show their so-called noble positions. They don’t know what a true noble thing is. Well, let’s read the stories about our ancestors and their pets.

Nowadays maybe many people think Confucius was a straitlaced pedant. But in fact, this erudite man also had a pet. He had a dog guarding his home. One day, the dog died. Confucius was very sad, and told Zigong (子贡), one of his most famous students, to bury the dog. Confucius said, “If a horse dies, it will be buried wrapping by a curtain. If a dog dies, it will be buried covering by an awning. So please bury my dog. I heard old curtains are not discarded because they can be used to bury horses, and old awnings are not discarded because they can be used to bury dogs. But I am so poor that I don’t have an awning. Please wrap the dog with a mat, and don’t cause its head to touch soil.”

In the Three-Empires Times, there was a man named Li Xinchun (李信纯) in the Xiangyang Jun (襄阳郡) which was in modern-day Hubei Province. He had a dog called “Black Dragon” (黑龙). He liked it very much, and every day he let the dog follow him. When he was dining, he must share some food to the dog. One day, Li Xinchun visited a friend who lived in the suburbs and drank very much. On the way to home, he couldn’t refrain from sleepiness because he was very drunk, and then he actually slept in the grass. At this time, the governor (太守) of the Jun was hunting, and saw the grasses of the field were very tall. Then he ordered his followers to burn the grass. The place where Li Xinchun was sleeping was downwind, and he was in danger. The dog of Li Xinchun saw the fire, and pulled the clothing of Li Xinchun by its mouth, but Xinchun was still in a deep sleep. The dog was very anxious, and it saw there was a streamlet which was not far. Then it ran rapidly to the streamlet and soaked its body. And then the dog returned rapidly and sprinkled water on the ground around Li Xinchun. The streamlet was nearly twenty meters apart from there. The dog ran very fast to and fro for carrying water without a rest. At last the dog died because it was too exhausted. The dog lay down beside Li Xinchun. After a while, Li Xinchun woke. He found his dog had been dead, and its body was wet. Xinchun felt very surprised. When he saw the field was burnt, but the ground around him was wet, so he understood what happened. Xinchun then wept for his loyal dog. When the governor of the Jun heard the thing, he sighed and said, “What the dog did for repaying an obligation is more selfless and fearless than a person does! If a person doesn’t know to repay an obligation, is he superior to a dog?” Then he gave an inner coffin, an outer coffin (椁), a garment and a quilt to the dog for burying it. The dog had a large tomb called “the Tomb of a Loyal Dog” (义犬冢).

In the Eastern Jin (东晋) Dynasty, in the Wu (吴) area which was in modern-day Jiangsu Province, a man named Hua Long (华隆) had a dog which could run very fast, and he called it “Diwei” (的尾) which meant “the tail of an arrow”. The dog always followed him. Later, Hua Long cut reeds on the riverside, and a large snake entwined him. The dog did all it can to worry the snake. When the snake died, Hua Long was in a stupor because of suffocation. The dog cried and ran to a boat where Hua Long’s friends were in. When it saw the men, it turned its way back. The men felt surprised and followed the dog, and then they found that Hua Long lay on the riverside. They carried him to return home at once. Hua Long was still unconscious, and the dog refused to eat any food. When Hua Long came to his senses, the dog then ate food. Those friends told Hua Long that his dog guided them to find him. Hua Long felt very grateful, and more cherished his dog as his relatives.

History gives us not only indoctrination but also touching feelings. People often say that dogs are loyal friends of humans. Hope the native dogs which have been loyal friends with our ancestors for thousands of years still live well on this earth. Cherish animals, and cherish touching feelings.

Yike Jiang avatar