The Chinese Zodiac has proclaimed this the Year of the Dog! According to an authoritative source, the Chinese legend is that many years ago Buddha summoned all the animals of the world and honored the twelve who came by naming a year for them. Then each animal shared its characteristics with the people born in its year. This year, February 16 marked the beginning of the Year of the Dog. I am especially lucky to have been born in 2006, the last Year of the Dog.
According to the Chinese Zodiac, the dog is loyal and honest, generous and works well with others. If you were born in 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, or 2006, you are a dog. Do you recognize these qualities in yourself?
How can you celebrate the year of the Dog? I have a few recommendations.
First, of course, think about ways you can make this year extra special for the dog in your life. Let me make this easy. All we want is to be with you. A little extra time with your canine partner is the best gift you can give and the perfect way to honor the Year of the Dog. Really!
Second, observe the Year of the Dog by trying to embrace our species’ best qualities and habits. Here are several ways you can be more doglike.
* Start every day with a good stretch.
* In a similar manner, let people know when you need some extra care and attention. My favorite technique is to nuzzle my snout gently on the closest human extremity within reach. (Please see photo for a demonstration of this technique.)
* Concentrate on what you are doing. There really isn’t any such thing as multi-tasking. When we dogs are tracking a bank robber, we track a bank robber. We don’t stop to chase a squirrel up a tree. Isn’t that why you trust us with these important assignments? Likewise, I urge you to be dogged in maintaining a singular focus on your important tasks. In the long run you will get more done.
* Take a walk at least once a day. It is especially enriching to do this with someone whose company you enjoy.
* Nap often.
* Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t smell right, it probably isn’t.
* Focus on what’s real. The electronic devices that some humans stare at all day long are not real. They may provide useful information and convenience, but they must not replace face-to-face interactions.
What’s real? Being in the presence of and communicating directly with living creatures. Gathering your team together to work through a challenge. Hearing the voice of someone dear to you. A soft spot for a nap. A fresh breeze in your face. The aroma of roasting meat. The sound of laughter.
I would love to hear how you may have embraced some of this canine wisdom. No matter your species, I hope you will celebrate the Year of the Dog!
Your best friend,
 Table placemat from Golden Chopsticks restaurant.
 I note with interest that there is no Year of the Cat. I can offer no explanation as to why the cat did not respond to Buddha’s call; I leave that to your imagination.
 The zodiac also says the dog is sometimes critical. I will try to be more tolerant of my feline brethren.
 To quote the famous song by Corgi, Stills and Nash.
 For example, I am particularly supportive of online dog treat sites.