Like birds, dogs come in a wild variety of shapes, sizes and attitudes, and those can reflect very different symbolic meanings. A Teacup Poodle and a Great Dane barely look like they come from the same planet, so it's no surprise they can mean quite different things if they turn up in your dreams, meditation or tealeaves.
Dogs in general are loyal and dedicated. They're true friends or faithful companions. They good mates.
However little ones, like this little Yorkie, can be troublemakers. They can be mouthy and challenging to authority - how often do you see some tiny yappy thing trying to pick a fight with a dog three times its size? But for all this, they have some other wonderful qualities. Dogs like this weren't originally bred as handbag warmers and child substitutes but as little workers, often rat-catchers. They're tenacious and dedicated in their quest to sniff out waste, corruption and other verminous things, and see it brought to light and dealt with. They're that journalist asking the difficult questions while everyone else just runs with what's on the press release.
Then there are bigger, working dogs like these Aussie military tracker dogs. They have the same qualities of faithfulness and dedication, but with the extra layer of meaning that comes from being a working breed with a job to do.
They're competent, capable, dutiful and professional. They're no-nonsense, no-fuss, they just get on with the work at hand. They work like, well, a dog. Sometimes they can end up taken for granted - just like a well-trained dog will risk its life at its master's command for nothing more than a scratch behind the ears and a bowl of mystery meat, so can this kind of symbol suggest a person's hardworking, diligent nature may be being exploited, with just a token bone thrown their way every now and then as thanks.
Then there's the other kind of dog. The mean dog, the bitey dog, the stray with no master who cares nothing for the likes of man.
Or our flower beds.
This is the false friend, the person or entity that seems to be your bestie but is only in it for what they can get out of you. It's the person who'll drop you like a cold stone when a better mark comes along. It's the person who butters you up, but only so it's easier to stick the knife into your back. If your symbol-dog is mean looking, snarling or attacking, has prominent teeth or claws or a rough, skinny, 'feral' look about it, it could indicate this rather less lovely side of dogkind.
And if you see this in your cup:
Perhaps ask yourself if you have a friend who's making unfair demands on you, or whether you're doing that to another, one party expecting the other to go above and beyond in the name of friendship.
Or perhaps it really is time you washed out the teapot.