January 21, 2020

Artemis Adopts a Pup: A Fanciful Ancient Greek Diary

Disco at 5 months
Disco staying warm on the hearth at 5 months


I’ve had dogs all my life, so I should know how to raise them. The God Pan brought me a litter of six black pups and said they could be trained to hunt lions. I chose the one that crawled on my lap and stayed to snuggle. A black female with a white streak on her chest.

I consulted with my sister Goddess Hecate about taking on a puppy. She always has black dogs at her side as she travels in the night and they’re well trained.

Artemis with her black dog, Louvre, ~450 BC

“Do it!” Hecate said. “It’s a challenge you won’t regret.” Since Hecate is Goddess of the Crossroads and sees from every angle, I trust her.


The pup came home last week, riding on my lap while my friend Lisa drove her chariot. I like solitude, but it’s good to have a helper and friend around with this pup. Every loving and protective dog begins as a rascal who eats the plants and digs deep holes.

I haven’t had time to write in my diary and hardly have time to take a shower or eat breakfast. We finally found the right name for this little fireball. Disco. She needs lots of snuggling and hates cold. I like to be outside in the forest, but she shivers. Maybe I should give her to Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth since Hestia is always near her fire, but I’m too attached to Disco to give her away. Besides, I like the warm hearth, too.


Triple Hekate, William Blake, 1795

I talked to my sister Hecate again about house-training. Hecate says I expect too much. Since I’m the Goddess of the New Moon and Hecate rules the Dark of the Moon, she’s my elder who travels all the worlds. She knows. Hecate reminded me that I’m impatient.

November again

We started training classes and Disco can do a few basics when there aren’t distractions. There are always distractions. She’s easily overwhelmed by noisy places—but since I’m overwhelmed by the noise of civilization, she may be responding to me. I like quiet and the forest, far from human cacophony.

Anubis ((from the Tomb of Tutankhamun, Egypt, ~1325 BC)

Hecate suggested I talk to the Egyptian Dog God Anubis who also has short black fur and get his advice about keeping her warm. I’ve never had a dog without a thick undercoat, but Disco’s fur is thin since she was born in the south. She’ll have to get used to cold winter winds.


Anubis rolled his eyes when I told him she shivers in the cold. “Get her a sweater,” he said.

“But she’ll tear it off with those sharp little teeth.”

“Maybe,” Anubis said. “Feed her treats while you pull it over her head. She’ll probably love it, but I’m not sure because it’s not cold in Egypt.”


Disco loves her orange sweater and we take long walks in the forest now. She’s a fan of sticks and deer poop. She’s house trained and rarely tears anything up. I take her to doggie day care twice a week because she needs more supervised play with dogs and I need time off.

Barb Cook, our trainer, with Disco when she was 6 weeks old

A dog-training initiate–Barb Cook who introduced me to Disco in September–came to my house for a private lesson. Barb taught me positive training tips, including using a halter with the leash clip on the chest. No more pulling! I’m a slow learner with a clicker, so I need lots of practice. Disco catches on fast. Four feet on the floor. We’ll get this.

Hecate says I should stop worrying. The Goddess of the Darkest Night says, “Just love her and keep her close and warm. Teach her how to be polite and give her treats. Relax.”



May we all be warm and sleep well. My ten-year-old Willow shares the hearth with the pup, plays and snuggles with her, and shares the toys. I expected this to work, but not as well as it has. By 6 pm, Willow needs quiet time so that’s arranged with door gates.

Have you taken on a demanding project and needed help to succeed? Does your experience feel like the unfolding of a mythological story or a legend? For other posts about adopting Disco, see Inspired by Artemis, Lured by Joy. For a post about relying on a dog for grief support, see A Dog’s View of Life and Death. 


  1. February 1, 2020 at 1:44 pm



    Ah, what a delightful piece, Elaine! Your weaving together puppy stories with mythology just makes the heart sing. And it’s wonderful to know that Artemis is back in your life “in her full glory.” Your piece encourages me to feel into my connection with Artemis, especially since I also live a life of solitude so close to the forest–
    I’ve even seen a gray wolf on my walk twice in the past couple of years. Maybe that’s part of what these beloved dogs we live with bring us–some of the wildness of the wolf along with tenderness of “a gentle loving pup who would love to lick a baby’s foot.” Thanks for the continued inspiration!

    1. February 2, 2020 at 9:43 am

      Elaine Mansfield


      Thanks, Anne. As you might imagine, I had fun writing this–and I need a little fun to get through winter in the northeast. Jean Shinoda Bolen’s 2014 book about Artemis speaks of Artemis revisiting women later in life. I wouldn’t have called myself an Artemis type as a young woman, but her style appeals to me now. I spend time in the woods every day (so do you!), live with dogs, have learned to take care of myself in a world of wood stoves and an old house that needs constant care. I am the protector of my domain with a reliable group of (mostly male) helpers for car maintenance, firewood cutting, and more. I wonder if Artemis had female dogs. I have never seen a wolf here, but I see red fox and an occasional gray fox. My friends the coyotes have been howling with wild abandon in my fields at night. They’re my friends because they help control the rabbit and mouse population. They don’t bother me and I don’t bother them.

  2. January 25, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    Jan Malique


    This so wonderful Elaine, warms the heart. Dogs are hugely symbolic beings and certainly impact upon our lives in profound ways.

    Anubis is my deity and well loved, also a Muse.

    1. January 26, 2020 at 12:25 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      Jan, thanks for your kind comment. I agree that dogs are “hugely symbolic beings” and, for me, teachers. At the moment I can’t stop looking at a print I made of a statue by Claudet (original at the Louvre). It’s an infant Oedipus being fed by the shepherd (who was instructed to expose the baby and let him die). The most touching part for me besides the tenderness of the shepherd is his dog licking the baby’s foot as the shepherd feeds the babe. My dog has a body like Anubis, but has droopy uncut boxer ears. She’s a rescue but looks like a mix of lab and boxer, a gentle loving pup who would love to lick a baby’s foot.

  3. January 22, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    Jean Raffa


    A delightful, soul-satisfying, heart-warming story. I too love the way you wove the archetypal deities throughout. A perfect way to illustrate their ongoing influence on our daily lives whether we’re aware of it or not. Being aware of it brings enormous meaning to daily routines that otherwise feel dull and dry.

    Artemis is definitely a big part of you and me: our love for the wilderness, animals, and solitude. Our fierce independence, indomitable will to be true to ourselves and do the right thing, our resistance to patriarchal dominance, our respect and appreciation for feminine values.

    A couple of summers ago I bought Izzy (a golden retriever with a surplus of undercoat) a bright red sort of backpack vest with zippered pockets on both sides…like saddle bags… so she could carry bottles of cool water, clippers, a trowel, and garbage bags for me on long hikes through our mountain forests. She took to it immediately, standing patiently while I loaded it up or stopped her to take something out. She seemed to feel proud of having a useful job. It was wonderful on cool and cloudy days. But we left it home on hot days when she needed to cool off by lying in mud and running through the creek.

    Thanks for your excellent writing and wonderful examples.

    1. January 23, 2020 at 12:03 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      Thanks for commenting, Jeanie. I had fun writing this–and fun is good during these hard times. I could get frustrated with puppy raising if I weren’t imagining Artemis as an ally who also needed guidance and if Disco weren’t such a sweet cuddly dog. She’s so big now but still tries to sit on my lap. It’s not possible anymore, so she extends and presses her whole back against my body when I lie down.

      I didn’t feel connected to Artemis for many years, but she’s back in her full glory since I chose solitude and living close to the wild (with a warm house and a wood stove after a chilling walk). Artemis is both loving as protector of childbirth and so, so fierce and self-protective. I remember Izzy. Disco loves her sweater and halter and I have a back-pack like yours used for Willow. Disco will grow into it by spring. We walk in areas where there are streams for water, but I can imagine her proud prance carrying her own supplies and treats.

  4. January 22, 2020 at 7:32 am



    Yikes, Elaine! That was so much fun. You’ve woven your beloved Disco into mythology. I loved seeing the old familiar artwork of goddesses and black dogs. And I could relate to the cold, shivering Disco as my Suki, a Havanese with no undercoat, loves her polar fleece sweaters and polyester-filled coats. She even eagerly helps dress herself by lifting her paws, one at a time, into the armholes after I slip the thing over her head. Long live our dogs in polyester!

    1. January 22, 2020 at 9:57 am

      Elaine Mansfield


      I had fun writing this and finding the images, Robin. I’m glad you liked it, too. I needed a mid-winter laugh.
      Disco loves being dressed and wrapped, including in the little tuxedo my son’s friend bought her for Christmas. She happily lifts her paws and she even likes her haltar. Willow was more resistant, but then she had/has so much more fur. Disco likes her orange sweater, but also loves to burrow under blankets on the couch or in her crate or anywhere she finds them. Be warm!

  5. January 22, 2020 at 6:51 am

    susan scott


    This is so charming Elaine! Relating Disco and her origins and her growing up though yet a pup makes me think that all our experiences belong in a way to myth. The characters are all there – guides I guess and you as Mother which is how I perceive you.

    Yes there are times that I see myself in some sort of play; our country too and around the world, some sort of Greek tragedy. We can all relate to the Great Mother and her polarities, likewise Lilith, Inanna, Artemis, Diana and so on. Which begs the question for me as to which story do I place myself in – one of the wounded feminine archetypes I guess although I do not ‘identify’ with them.

    Thank you for this.

    1. January 22, 2020 at 9:53 am

      Elaine Mansfield


      Thanks for your comment, Susan. Yes to knowing and working with many enduring ancient stories throughout our lives–and as ways to understand our times, the cultural catastrophes and occasional triumphs. I often feel like I’m living in a Shakespearean or a Greek tragedy these days. Or a Biblical drama. Artemis felt remote when I was a wife, mother, and a working woman out in the community. Then the combination of being widowed, hearing loss, living with dogs, and choosing to stay on my land and close to the forest brought me in contact with Artemis in a new way. Jean Shinoda Bolen talks about how this archetype visits older women in her book about Artemis and how this Virgin Goddess manifests in later life.

  6. January 22, 2020 at 6:15 am

    Barbara Nowogrodzki


    I enjoyed connecting little Disco to Artemis!! Thanks!

    1. January 22, 2020 at 9:33 am

      Elaine Mansfield


      Thanks, Barbara. I had fun making meaning of my nutty choice to adopt a puppy–not a little lap dog, but a dog that will be 50 or more lbs. We do lots of training.

  7. January 21, 2020 at 8:57 pm

    Marian Beaman


    Your dogs stories kept me thoroughly entertained, especially since I hosted a couple with a dog “daughter” named Maya in my home last week. You can meet her on this week’s blog post. Interestingly, this couple has no human children, at least not yet, but I have no doubt man and wife consider themselves Dad and Mom to this cuddly canine.

    As to one of your questions: “Have I taken on a demanding project and needed help to succeed?” Why, yes, and almost all of my help came from friends I learned to trust on social media. I’ll call them my memoir midwives. You are one of them, Elaine!

    Great post, once again.

    1. January 22, 2020 at 9:31 am

      Elaine Mansfield


      I look forward to reading about Maya, Marian. I’m forever behind these days since this pup takes lots and lots of time. Shhhh…she’s sleeping. It makes me happy to be one of your memoir midwives. Your stories, the photos, the connections between your old way of life and the new are unique to you and teachings for the rest of us. Your book a gem and treasure. As I say to Disco, “Good job!”

      1. January 23, 2020 at 10:03 am

        Marian Beaman



  8. January 21, 2020 at 8:51 pm



    How fanciful and fun…Thank you, Elaine and happy new year.

    1. January 22, 2020 at 9:23 am

      Elaine Mansfield


      Puppies are fun. That’s her job and she’s doing it. I had so much fun writing this. Thanks for commenting, Gita.

  9. January 21, 2020 at 10:10 am

    Deborah Gregory


    Oh, I love this style of writing Elaine! Indeed, I felt like I was reading an entertaining diary insertion with eyes that kept racing ahead of themselves, impatient to know how the story and year would unfold! A story littered with many a Greek God and Goddess … and how cleverly you wove your sister, the Goddess Hecate in! Brilliantly penned, I doff my cap to you dear writer!

    In early January I had a strange, numinous dream which does feel like a mythological story, although I don’t know which one … but I do know the story, of that I’m sure. We’ll see! However, in order for me to explore and unpack this more, I will need to turn to great writers, like yourself, who can help me on my journey. Wonderful photos, it’s lovely to watch Disco grow up! Warm winter blessings, Deborah.

    1. January 22, 2020 at 9:23 am

      Elaine Mansfield


      It was fun to write, Deborah. Puppies teach humans how to have fun. I had to bring Anubis in, too–with a roll of his black eyes. This story may have something to do with re-reading Marie Louise von Franz’s books about fairy tales these days. I have 6 on my shelves that I haven’t read for decades, and I’m 2/3 of the way through one of them. I love how she helps me bring the stories into personal realms.

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