The Year of the Dog

2018 is the Chinese Year of the Dog. According to history.com,* Chinese New Year (also called the Spring Festival) is the most important holiday in China, and “[o]racle bones inscribed with astronomical records indicate that the calendar existed as early as 14th century B.C.” Unlike the western or Gregorian calendar with a fixed New Year’s Day, the Chinese calendar’s start date fluctuates, and is dependent on lunar phases as well as solar solstices and equinoxes. Typically, the New Year celebration starts “with the new moon that occurs between the end of January and the end of February, and it lasts about 15 days, until the full moon arrives with the Festival of Lanterns.” 

Traditionally, families would thoroughly clean their houses in preparation for the festival, and “[r]itual sacrifices of food and paper icons were offered to gods and ancestors. People posted scrolls printed with lucky messages on household gates and set off firecrackers to frighten evil spirits. Elders gave out money to children.” Feasting was very important and in the first five days of the festival people ate long noodles to symbolize long life. (history.com). 

The Chinese calendar also includes the Chinese Zodiac, “the cycle of twelve stations or “signs” along the apparent path of the sun through the cosmos.” (history.com) The twelve animals representing these stations are: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Each year is marked by characteristics of its animal and each sign repeats every 12 years.

But, according to Chinese element theory, each zodiac sign is also “associated with one of the five elements: Gold (Metal), Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth. For example, a Wood Dog comes once in a 60-year cycle. It is theorized that a person’s characteristics are decided by their birth year’s zodiac animal sign and element.” (china highlights.com).

1958 and 2018** are Earth Dog years, and people born in these years are likely to be, “communicative, serious, and responsible in work.” They are not, however, likely to be lucky this year, because “[a]ccording to Chinese astrology, people in the year of their birth sign…will offend Tai Sui, the God of Age in Chinese mythology. They are believed to have bad luck in this year.” (chinahighlights.com).

Reading through the predictions for Fortune, Career, Love, and Health, the best way for dogs to get rid of bad luck (or to bring good luck) is to take walks in parks or lakeside areas. So, a great New Year’s resolution would be to increase your fitness (both physically and luck-wise) by power walking near ponds and gardens.

Since every year is a Year of the Dog for canine owners, why not take your dog with you? Walking near water and wilderness will increase not only your health and happiness, but that of your dog. Dr. Zazi Todd, in our podcast, Making Happy Dogs Happier states that one of the easiest ways to make your dog happy to take him on a “sniff-fari.”

If making your dog happier isn’t enough of an incentive to get out and about consider this quote from my blog, What’s good for the goose… :_CSG8991-2 sm

The Journal of Physical Activity & Health found that dog owners are more likely to reach their fitness goals than those without canine companions. Researchers at Michigan State University found that…owning a dog promotes health and fitness even after you take your pup for a stroll, increasing leisure-time physical activity by 69 percent.

And:

Being close with a dog helps improve human relationships. Studies find that owning and walking a dog increases social interaction. Dogs help ease people out of social isolation or shyness, says Nadine Kaslow, IMG_0586IMG_0586PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University in Atlanta…Children who IMG_0585experience caring for a dog have higher levels of empathy and self-esteem than children without pet dogs, shows child psychologist Robert Bierer.

So, even if you weren’t born in a year of the dog, increase your health and happiness by enjoying a stroll with your pup. If that isn’t good luck, then I don’t know what is! 

Happy New Year 2018!

 

 

*Click here for a quick video on History.com about the Chinese New Year.

** Other dog years include: 1934, 1946, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006. 

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