M: Me, I: Informant
I: When I was younger, growing up my mother would say if you heard a dog howling at night, it was the soul of someone who was about to pass away or die or crossing to the next world. So, howling dogs at night used to scare me
M: Oh it used to scare you. Ok
I: Yes because it meant that someone was going to died and you didn’t know who
M: Oh gotcha, gotcha, gotcha. So you believed it to be true?
I: Well yeah I was little, like 7 or 8.
M: Do you believe it to be true today?
I: No, but there things in our family from Peru because we’re from you know that more of the rural areas, that there’s the belief in signs
Context: This was taught to my informant and the rest of her siblings when she was a small child. They all believed in this and even believe their mother had a ‘sense’ about these things. Her mother heard a basketball bouncing in the middle of the night (a symbol connected to the neighbors) and a dog howling and she claimed that someone in that household would die. Soon after the mother of the neighbors died of a surprise brain aneurysm. Seeing the folklore working in real time help to solidify in their belief of the howling dog as a premonition for a soon approaching death.
Analysis: In Peruvian culture especially in the more rural areas, there is a large focus and trust in omens. The belief is that the dogs have a sense about death and illness that humans don’t and thus they know when death is coming sooner than humans do. I think that allowing animals, dogs in this case, to have the power to sense what is coming allows for humans to conceptualize these deaths as a part of nature, a part of the life cycle, and that this was what was in the plans. It makes it easier to attribute to nature’s timing when ‘nature,’ aka dogs, is involved and know what is coming in advance- there is nothing to do but allow for life to take its course. Additionally, ‘seeing’ this work in real life with their neighbors, help to cement this belief in my informant when she was growing up, even if she doesn’t believe it as much now, possibly because she is in a much more science-valued country(the US).