I’ll be honest. I’m not a dog person. In fact I don’t like animals, which is why I’m a vegetarian. I’ve childhood memories of getting asthma attacks because of dogs, cats and horses, and as far as I’m concerned humans and animals should be kept apart.
That doesn’t mean I’m nasty to animals. Far from it. If I see a large spider I’ll go out of my way to remove it, to a safe, spider-friendly place. Even though I suffer from mild to moderate arachnophobia.
That means putting a jar over the spider, without damaging its legs. Then gently sliding a piece of paper under the jar, and crunching the paper around the top, before turning the jar the right way up – so allowing me to take the offending arachnid somewhere safe.
My detached, Gemini relationship to the animal world seemed fine, until Saturn went into my Sixth House. Sorry about the jargon, I’d better translate that into English…
Gemini is a very human sign. A lot of Geminis don’t like animals. They’re too complicated, and I’ve heard another Gemini describe pets as being ’emotional furniture’.
As to the Sixth House, it’s a sector of the horoscope immediately below the Western Horizon. Traditionally it’s associated with small animals, from the size of a goat downwards.
Saturn is the planet of Karma, responsibility and spiritual lessons. So when Saturn moved into my Sixth House in 2007 – it stays here until around 2012 – I might have to deal with issues around small animals.
And so it happened. We were in Slovakia in the Spring, and my wife thought we should get a souvenir from this mountainous, Central European country.
A bottle of slivovica, the local plum brandy, would have been a good choice, but that just wasn’t good enough. It had to be a slovensky čuvač (pronounced choovach), the national dog.
Now, a slovensky čuvač is not to be taken lightly. It’s traditionally used by Slovak shepherds to protect their flocks from bears and wolves. Apparently it bonds with the sheep, and because of its white colour it merges with the flock.
A wolf comes, thinking it’s got an easy meal, then a čuvač emerges out of the darkness, having the advantage of surprise.
In practice the wolf will be slightly bigger than the čuvač, and a bear of course will be much bigger. However a predator will probably regard a fight with the čuvač as being too much effort, and in most cases will seek easier pickings.
As you will have now gathered, a čuvač is a completely unsuitable family pet, even though its advocates claim that it’s fiercely loyal and also very good with children.
If you’re an asthmatic, having a čuvač is suicidal. The animal’s got a thick, white coat, which it’s shedding the whole time. All very well for keeping warm in a mountain cave – it can sleep in temperatures as low as minus twenty degrees centigrade – but for indoor use, with allergic people around, it’s crazy.
When we drove up into the Tatra mountains to buy the dog, we weren’t thinking about my allergies. It was our four year old son we were worried about. What if he was allergic? We’d then have to take the dog back.
Higher and higher we drove, towards the mountainous border between Poland and Slovakia. In fact, the Tatras are part of the Carpathian mountains, that long mountain range that starts in eastern Austria and finishes in Transylvania.
There was still snow on the ground, and the road to the breeder’s compound had only very recently become passable. It was easy to forget the allergies, and to pretend one was in a Dracula movie.
In this light, the čuvač is most alert, and most aggressive, at sunset, when predators are most active. If the čuvač is silent, that’s a sure sign that the vampires are somewhere else.
We bought the čuvač, put her in the back of our battered Volvo estate, and returned to Bratislava, the Slovak capital. Half an hour into the journey I knew that I was allergic to the dog, because I could feel my lungs tightening. But it was too late to say anything.
I could have set up a horoscope for the precise moment we took delivery of the čuvač, but I forgot to take note of the time. Anyway, what really matters, from an astrological point of view, is the chart of the dog’s birth. And according to the breeder, she was born on the morning of December 13 2008. Here’s her chart, set for noon:
This horoscope should indicate what kind of personality the dog will have, and will also give clues about the events in her life.
Though the variation of experience should be less than that of a human. Dogs have less choice than human – they can’t decide to be doctors, lawyers or artists. We also assume that they can’t have life-changing spiritual revelations.
Nonetheless, there is probably some value in looking at a dog’s horoscope.
The čuvač, being born in early December, is a Sagittarius. And it’s often said that Sagittarians do a lot of travelling.
Well, looking at the first year of the dog’s life, this would seem to be case. She was born in Slovakia, and was bought by foreigners, namely us. In April 2009 she travelled by car from Slovakia to Frankfurt, in Germany. There she was put on a plane to Seattle.
After spending a long Summer in the Pacific Northwest, she was put on a plane to Amsterdam, in Holland. Another car trip awaited her, through Germany and Austria and back to Slovakia.
So it seems that many of her life experiences have been typically Sagittarian. Yet if we go deeper into her horoscope, we notice that her Sun in Sagittarius is making a stressful aspect to Saturn in Virgo. This means that the dog could be vulnerable to depression.
She had a difficult first few months of life, several times being torn away from her home. And perhaps there’ll be times when she’ll feel that she can’t express herself.
Right now she lives in an apartment, in a city. This is not suitable accommodation for a large, mountain dog.
Yet the power of the Sun-Saturn aspect was most apparent over the Summer. It got triggered by a Saturn transit, and she came down with kennel cough – a contagious though not serious disease, that canines are very vulnerable to.
Which brings me back to my own problems. It’s kind of fitting that the čuvač is a Sagittarius – I’m a Gemini, and these two signs are opposite one another.
Also, her Sun is at 22 degrees Sagittarius, while my Mercury is at 20 degrees Gemini. So her Sun is opposition my Mercury.
The Sun is her vitality, her essential dogness, with all its dander and assorted allegens. My Mercury symbolises the lungs – because in astrology the lungs are ruled by this planet.
In other words she aggravates my asthma, in a big way.
So what do I do? Keep on taking the steroid inhalers and the antihistamines? Or do I get rid of her?
Getting rid of her is the logical solution. I remember as I child my father had bad asthma, and his doctor insisted that our dog be removed.
However they do say that dogs are for life and not just for Christmas. The čuvač is a breed that develops attachments at an early age – that’s why if you want it to look after your sheep, you keep it in the sheep pen, pretty much from the moment it’s born.
Now that the dog is one year old, it’s too late to get rid of her. She’s made her attachments, and I’m one of them.
This underlines that old principle, that we must take responsibility for our actions. If the dog has been bought she has to be kept, even if it wrecks my lungs.
There is also a question of destiny. Right now, it’s my destiny to have a dog. I don’t know why, but that’s the way it is.
I therefore have to suffer for another twelve or thirteen years, until the dog dies. But because of her pedigree she hasn’t been spayed, and I’ve got a feeling that her super-allergenic descendants will be sniffing at my freshly-dug grave.