People deal with the death of a beloved pet in many different ways. Some buy a casket and a plot of land, just as they would a human. Some emulate the Victorians and turn to the local taxidermist to keep a pet perky and lifelike (if immobile) for the rest of time. A less popular approach in modern times is to take your dog to the grave with you. That is, giving pets a tug on the leash and dragging them across the Rainbow Bridge with you, instead of just waiting for them to find their own way.
The discovery of 137 mummified dogs in Peru, more than 1,000 years old, serves as a reminder that historically, a dog’s responsibilities to his owner didn’t always end when the owner died. Archaeologists found 62 complete bodies and 75 incomplete skeletons buried alongside human remains. Enrique Angulo, a veterinarian who’s looked over the remains, says that the dogs were of a wide range of ages and showed signs of a variety of different illnesses.
Lucienda Carrión, from one of Lima’s two major zoos, where the bodies were found, told Latino Fox News, “We cannot determine with total certainty yet whether these animals were used in some kind of ritual, but given the evidence, that is the hypothesis we are handing.”
Some of them were found with offerings of vegetable rope and reeds, a custom of pre-Columbian cultures in Peru.
At first glance, the dogs seem to be at least 900 years old, but the bodies need to go through radiocarbon dating processes for more precision.
The find isn’t the first of its kind: About 40 mummified dogs were found in 2006, in a 1,000-year-old pet cemetery. The 2006 dig and the most recent one are thought to be from the Chiribaya culture, which highly valued dogs as llama herders.
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