Anubis and the dogs of Egypt

Ancient Egypt is thought of as the civilisation that made god of the cats but they also worshipped dogs.

For the most part, keeping a dog was very similar to how we keep them now: some were herd dogs, hunting dogs, some were kept to help defend the house, others were valued pets. They had collars with their names on (Brave One, Good Herdsman, Blacky), had often well-decorated leashes and were considered as family members.

In other ways, dogs had it better with these ancient Egyptians: murdering a dog was a capital crime, unlike today where it still mostly results in a fine. When a dog died, it was common to mourn them as they would for any other family member, and dogs also were mummified in order to pass for the afterlife.

Their strong beliefs about the afterlife also made a big difference in how they kept their dogs compared to us. When someone died, it wasn’t uncommon to bury their dogs with them, killing them to be together. While many today have faith that their reunion after death will also include loved dogs as well, Ancient Egypt had Anubis, a god with the head of a dog. (Although it might also be interpreted as a wolf or a jackal.)

Anubis was the “king of the dead”. He accompanied the recently deceased to the afterlife. Like our dogs, he protects and sees the best in humanity. But like other deities, he required sacrifice. In his temple it wasn’t only the mummified family dogs who were gifted as offering but the “City of the dogs” had others specifically bred to get sacrificed so Anubis would continue to be pleased.

Dogs impacted burials in a more practical way as well: stray dogs, called pariahs lived in packs that hunted the in the outskirts of big cities, often disturbing cemeteries. To protect the dead, the practice of burying in tombs became more popular. Tombs, that often had the family dogs buried with their humans, thus coming a full circle.

History is always interesting but I believe we also carry it with us subconsciously. We are shaped by our ancestors, and maybe dogs are, too. Maybe when dogs dream, they don’t only dream about their own life, but also of those who came before them. Maybe when Mia cries in her sleep, she’s taken back to Ancient Egypt.

In ancient Egypt, I was a scrappy little terrier named Kepi. I loved scampering around the streets of Thebes, charming passersby with my wagging tail and eager face. But one night, my happy-go-lucky existence was disrupted in a way I could never have imagined.

I was snatched from my home by a group of priests clad in flowing robes and golden headdresses. I yelped and struggled, but the priests held me fast as they carried me towards the temple of Anubis, the god of the dead.

I had heard stories of Anubis before – how he was the guide of the souls of the dead, and how he required offerings of animals to appease his hunger. But I never thought I’d be one of those animals.

As the priests tied me to a stone altar, I whimpered and cowered, wishing I could run away or at least understand why this was happening to me. The priests chanted and burned incense, and I closed my eyes and braced myself for the worst.

But suddenly, there was a commotion outside the temple walls. Shouts and barks echoed through the air, and my heart leaped with hope. Could it be? Was someone coming to save me?

The temple doors burst open, and a band of street dogs rushed in, led by a massive black mastiff named Amun. They attacked the priests with ferocity, biting and clawing and snarling, and I was freed from my bonds in the chaos.

Amun turned to me and growled, “Come on, little one! We have to get out of here before they regroup!”

I scampered after Amun, my little legs pumping with adrenaline and gratitude. As we fled through the winding alleyways of Thebes, I knew I owed my life to Amun and his pack. And I couldn’t help but wonder – did Anubis truly require such sacrifices, or was there another way to honor the gods?

(Written by AI)

This post is part of the A to Z blogging challenge of April 2023. Topic of this year is “The AI, the dog and the witchling”, real and fictional stories partially written/inspired by AI, featuring Mia and Missy.

I gave a short prompt for ChatGPT: “write a flash story about a dog who is about to be sacrified for Anubis in Egypt”

I also used it to change the viewpoint from third to first person – normally it’s quite tedious but it was easy for the AI.

If you’d like to read more about dogs in Egypt, I recommend this article, it has a big section on breeds as well.

Happy letter A day!

23 thoughts on “Anubis and the dogs of Egypt

  1. That was quite something, Andi. I wasn’t aware of the life of dogs in Egypt in ancient times. And, I don’t think Anubis needed animal sacrifices. If only he could speak, he would have told the humans to think like dogs and not humans, who think sacrificing a life is the only way to appease the gods.
    And, while reading Kepi’s story, my heart was thudding! Thank god Amun saved her!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Shilpa, I was also happy that Amun arrived in time! And yes, as a half-dog himself, I don’t think he would have wanted to have other dogs be killed in his name. But then, there have been cruel gods!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi.
    I was unaware of the role of dogs in Egypt. Anubis – Jackal – Wolf – Dog makes sense. Thank you for the research.
    Interesting story as well. I know a couple of others who have been playing with AI.
    I’ll be back.

    Thanks for visiting Tale Spinning.


  3. Reluctantly, I have to admit that ChatGPT’s story is impressive and thus slightly scary – for the future of writers. Will it be like digital photography where everyone can take a picture without technical or artistic knowledge? How will we know who has written material themselves…
    Interesting post and looking forward to a continuing evaluation of AI writing…


      1. Yes, I always add how the AI generated content came about. Most of them use a simple prompt, for this one I also used it to change the POV from 3rd person to 1st.


  4. I’m sure we will be with our beloved pets again. But the thought has occurred to me – what if they’d rather not?
    Now there’s a worrying thought.
    Great start to the month 🙂


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