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Healing powers have been attributed to dogs for as long as dogs have been associated with humans. In ancient Egypt, the dog-headed god Anubis was physician to the gods and guardian of the mysteries of making mummies and reincarnation. The Sumerian goddess Gula the Great Physician used the image of a dog as her sacred emblem, as did Marduk, the Babylonian god of healing and reincarnation. In Greek mythology, Askelepios, son of Apollo and the God of medicine, established his shrine in a sacred grove—a sort of ancient health spa. The afflicted went there to seek cures for a range of ailments. Treatment involved various rites of purification and sacrifice, fol- lowed by periods of possibly drug-induced sleep within the shrine. While they slept, patients were visited by the god, often in the guise of a dog that licked the injured part of the sleeping person’s body. Meanwhile, real dogs that lived at the shrine were specially trained to lick the people with great affection. It was widely believed that the dogs were representatives of the god himself, and that they had the power to cure illness with their tongues.

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