Among the treasures gathered during my years in Asia that now decorate my home is a ceramic temple dog. I don’t remember where I acquired it. It might have been in Thailand or China or maybe in Hong Kong, my favorite city in the Orient. Statues of dogs and lions were kept in temples to ward off hostile spirits that might otherwise encroach on sacred ground. Their presence in places of worship was a Chinese tradition, also adopted by the Japanese.
Temple dogs were similar to but not the same as foo dogs that also showed up in temples. Foo dogs are actually lions, and, in my experience, more often were placed outdoors, not in the temple.
My beloved temple dog sits to the right of the fireplace in my sunroom. He is 18 inches tall and 16 inches long, sitting alert and facing to his left. His body is a medium green with white stylized hair fluffs on the top of his head, eyebrows, ruff, legs, and tail. His eyes are wide and eager, his mouth open showing white teeth and a pink tongue. Beneath his right paw is a ball. He’s ready to play.
I’ve placed him so that he’s facing my reading chair. I can look up from my book and see him waiting for me to throw his ball for him. He reminds me regularly of the many dogs we had for my children as they were growing up. And he makes me recall my wondrous years in Asia.