You can read an introduction to the light & shadow series and find links to its other installments >> here! If you aren’t yet familiar with my interpretation of the card you might want to read up on its meanings before you continue with this article.
In traditional interpretations, the Dog is usually viewed as predominantly positive. My own interpretation leans towards the positive, too; nevertheless, it also contains a few negative implications.
The Dog represents productive, positive, issues and goings-on especially if we draw the card in a situation in which helping others or being helped by others is appropriate and wanted – e.g. if the person who is being helped is actually in need of help and is supported in a respectful manner that holds them up, strengthens them. Loyalty and devotion can be really good things if the person who displays them still has their own opinion, still thinks for themselves, and if the person or issue they are directed at is actually deserving of them.
Likewise, if the Dog represents the willingness to follow orders, to be led, this is probably a productive thing if the person who is doing the following hasn’t cancelled their critical thinking skills, and if the person who is being followed is actually more competent, more able to lead, or otherwise worthy of followers. Asking others for permission before you act can sometimes be a matter of simple politeness, and sometimes, especially when you plan to do something that concerns other people’s most intimate interests or might cross their personal boundaries, asking permission is – morally – absolutely requisite and thus decidedly positive.
Now, if the Dog represents a friend (or a friendly person), the presence of this person in your reading will feel positive if your relationship with that person is healthy. If the relationship is conflicted, the presence of the card mightn’t at first feel positive, but if it then helps you to solve the conflict, it will still be very productive.
However, the Dog can represent unproductive, negative, issues and goings-on, too.
The Dog could for example represent those types of help and support which are not appropriate. Sometimes help and support are quite simply unwelcome. Sometimes help isn’t actually needed. Sometimes the wrong type of help is given. And sometimes, a person is so addicted to helping others that they ruin their own health (called “helper’s syndrome”, Helfersyndrom, in German).
While loyalty and devotion can be really good things, they are unhealthy and potentially dangerous if the person who shows them has cancelled their critical thinking skills, is loyal/devoted to the point of ruining their health or their relationships with others, and if the person or issue the loyalty/devotion are directed at are not worthy of them.
Likewise, if the Dog represents the willingness to follow orders, to be led, this is not a good thing if the person who is doing the following doesn’t think for themselves anymore, is only following others out of a fear of going wrong, or out of an anxiety to please, and/or if the person who is being followed is not actually competent, isn’t a good leader or otherwise not worthy of followers.
Also, yes, asking others for permission is definitely a must if we want to do something that concerns other people’s most intimate interest or boundaries. But there are cases in which other people’s opinions or preferences just shouldn’t be a dominant factor in our decisions – especially if what we plan to do concerns our own most intimate interests but not theirs (e.g. we shouldn’t ask our parents for permission to marry the person we love). If the Dog represents a person who keeps asking permission for doing things which should be their own business, the Dog represents something very destructive.
Lastly, if the Dog represents a friend (or a friendly person), its presence in your reading might feel negative if your relationship with that person is unhealthy or conflicted. And if you are so ensnarled in the conflict that you are unable to truly want to try to solve it, the Dog’s presence in the reading will likely also be unproductive.