Story…Why a Mad Dog Shuns the Water
To the ancient Egyptians, the first visible appearance of Sirius in the Spring was of great importance because it timed the yearly approach of an event which to them meant life or death. Egypt was dependent for her life upon the flooding of the Nile because of rich new silt deposits from which their crops could grow. Soon after Sirius appeared the rains began, signaling the need for the farmers along the Nile to move their household goods to higher ground until the flood passed and it was safe for them again.
Thus the constellated dog kept a watchful eye on the rising river. Canis Major is a friendly dog whose master’s welfare is dominant in his heart. As humans look to God in service and devotion, so does the faithful dog look up to humans. No other animal habitually displays these qualities which in their fuller bloom become the flowers of religion and altruistic action.
As pictured in the sky Sirius is not fleeing in terror from the rising water. He is warning that, temporarily, it is better to repair to higher ground. The water is a healthy thing because it softens the soil which can only bring fruit when thus moistened. So too, the earthly life of humans can acquire a healthy harvest only when the finer, kinder qualities of affection, symbolized by water, have softened its hard, dry selfishness.
The great dog in the sky portrays the character of humankind, which warns that the emotional tide runs high enough to bring peril; and leads back again to moist and fertile ground when there is safety. But, when fear of water is developed the character no longer is swayed by the softer, kinder sentiments, and like the mad dog with hydrophobia, is prone to finding expression in acts of military aggression or acts of competitive madness. The good of any person resides in their character, and character is sound only so long as it has due regard and sympathy for the interests of others.