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I’m pretty sure that what the doctor in the comic described is that patient’s average Tuesday anyway.

Big lifestyle change.

While there may be many differences between cultures, one thing is fairly consistent in both the East and the West: dogs are typically seen as man’s best friend. Like those of us who’ve grown up in more European-flavored surroundings, the people of Japan have long held that the dog is a kind and noble animal, always loyal to its master, a creature to be respected and loved. Within the Japanese spiritual tradition of Shinto, it is thought that every thing on earth contains some kind of spirit, whether that is an animal, a fish, or rocks and trees. While there are some bits of folklore and popular culture within Japan that show dog spirits protecting their masters after a natural death, there is a specific and somewhat grisly tale from the island nation about purposefully creating one of these strange specters. Yes, not unlike the familiar of European witches and warlocks, it is possible to create or summon an Inugami by human hands, but it isn’t pleasant.

It is thought that by burying a loyal dog up to its neck in the ground and placing food around it, just out of reach, and letting it starve to death, one can create a lingering spirit. The food acts as an offering to the dog’s tortured shade, placating it and causing the spirit to attach itself to the one who has made the offering.

Not too nice, right? Well, there are worse methods.

One legend tells of an old woman who, holding revenge and anger in her heart, buried her loyal canine in the ground. Speaking to this once precious dog, she told it that if it does, indeed, have a spirit within, that she would worship it and make ritual offerings if it would but serve her. After placing the offerings, she took a saw and cut the dog’s head off, releasing its spirit. The newly created Inugami listened to her words and accepted her offerings but haunted her until the end of her life, sometimes even going so far as to possess her.

It is thought that an Inugami-Mochi (one who owns or controls an Inugami) may be blessed by the presence of such a loyal and cunning spirit, though it is equally possible that such a haunting might reap only ill effects and misfortune. It seems to depend on the person or family and the area of Japan being examined.

It is interesting to note that Inugami may have their own independent motives outside their master or masters’ interests. This can lead to some startling side effects.

One possible event is that an Inugami-Mochi may become possessed by the spirit. While this can cure illnesses and offer strength to the host, it may also result in psychological issues, including acting like a dog.

Compared to some of today’s prescriptions, that doesn’t seem like such a terrible side effect.

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