The Case of the Demon Dog
While the conventional wisdom is to dismiss dream interpretation as an amusing and harmless parlor game, ignoring the meaning of a dream can kill you.
In December 2006 an acquaintance related to me a dream he kept having. In the dream, he is a bum wearing tattered clothes, he can't find a parked car, he fights someone, he sees a pretty butter dish, and he encounters a vicious black dog that is trying to scare him away.
I advised him that, according to a dream dictionary, dark demon dogs protect graveyards and are guardians of the underworld. The dog may be chasing him away from thoughts of death. Searching for a parked car indicated that he did not know where he wanted to go in life. To dream that he is a bum revealed that he is feeling like a failure or outcast. Tattered clothes suggested that he is too concerned about how other people see him. Fighting indicated inner turmoil.
The one seemingly benign image, the pretty butter dish, was a sign that he needed gratification and pleasure "dished out" to him.
With recurring dreams, the message may be so important or powerful that it just will not go away. The frequent repetition of the dream should force him to pay attention and confront the dream. However, I also told him that he was free to dismiss these interpretations as just a bunch of New Age nonsense. "It's your call," I told him.
I was speaking to a person with a much richer life experience than me, was a success in the business community, and seemed in good spirits on the phone. Nine months later he committed suicide. He had hidden his problems from everyone except his wife.
Tombstone The time gap between the dreams and the death may seem large enough for many to dismiss these events as coincidences. However, on September 1, 2007, I was watching on TV the movie U.S. Marshals, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Wesley Snipes. In one scene, Jones and his partner followed a suspect to a chapel in a graveyard. As they waited outside, the partner stood behind a tombstone engraved with my last name, URBANEK.
The next day, my acquaintance called to ask if I was related to a woman named Urbanek who he had read about in a newspaper obituary. Like my mother, she had been born in Texas and had come to California in the 1930s. No, I was not related. On September 9 he shot himself. Apparently, the juxtaposition of the movie tombstone and the newspaper obituary, both with my last name, was a sign that I was dealing with a "grave" situation. I wish I had realized that sooner. Perhaps I could have made a difference. Or perhaps I am a Cassandra who only foretells the inevitable disaster.
Image Sidney Paget’s illustration of The Hound of the Baskervilles, public domain