Mascots on sale for the Year of the Dog
China's grandest festival arrives with the sound of fireworks, greetings of good fortune and glasses clinking in family toasts across the country. It's Spring Festival time on February 16, and the zodiac sign this year features man's best friend. Yes, you guessed it - it is the Year of Dog in the Chinese animal zodiac. Barks of delight will be heard countrywide.
Although the Gregorian calendar is now widely used in China, shuxiang, a cyclical Chinese zodiac system in which 12 animals represent 12 consecutive years, is still popular and of great significance in the lives of Chinese people. The 12 animals rotate in the following order: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig, which is a traditional way to count the years and record a person's age.
The Dog occupies the eleventh position in the Chinese zodiac. If you happen to be born in any of the following Dog years: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994 and 2006, then the Year of Dog in Chinese lunar calendar, which lasts from February 16, 2018 to February 4, 2019, is auspicious for you as each sign is only celebrated in its own year every 12 years.
Dogs are widely recognized as clever animals, and they are deemed to have the intelligence equal to a three-year-old child. Therefore, dogs are trained in China for many uses, including leading people who are visually impaired. The law enforcement agencies also train dogs to smell out drugs and explosives.
It is believed that people in the same zodiac sign also share similar traits in their personality. People born in the Year of Dog are loyal, faithful and sincere. They are always willing to help others, righteous and often the first to speak out against injustice.
While people of this year are not good at socializing, they are intelligent, caring, faithful and honest. In a team environment, they are good listeners and have a profound sense of responsibility. This makes them good at keeping secrets as these folk do not like gossip and can be counted upon.
They are also agreeable companions - as long as they are in a good mood. However, rubbed up the wrong way, the snarling dog can also be judgmental, defensive and picky. So as long as you know how to pet and massage them, the dog makes absolutely the best and most honorable companion on earth.
Folk Artist makes Chinese zodiac signs (XINHUA)
Dog in Chinese mythology
Dogs are regarded as the ultimate companion of human beings. In Chinese mythology, Erlang Shen, a Chinese god with a third "truth-seeing" eye on his forehead, is said to have had a faithful dog, Xiaotian Quan, which is literally translated to Howling Celestial Dog, by his side. This dog helped him subdue evil spirits. In the Chinese epic novel, Journey to the West, Xiaotian Quan helps Erlang Shen in his fight against the evolved monkey king, Sun Wukong, by critically biting him on the leg. In north China, dog images made by cutting paper were thrown in the water as part of the ritual of the Dragon Boat Festival, celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, as a type of magic act to drive away evil spirits. Paper dogs were also provided for protecting the dead.
Popularity of pet dogs
Dogs are used by farmers in the countryside to guard houses. With the rise of China's modern middle class and a shift in attitudes toward a growing trend of pet culture, dogs have become popular pets in China. Pet dogs are a common sight on the streets of Chinese cities nationwide.
The most popular breeds kept by Chinese include Golden Retriever, Toy Poodle, Labrador Retriever, Samoyed, Chow Chow, Poodle, Pomeranian, Schnauzer and Husky. The boom in keeping pet dogs means the demand for vets is on the rise. In China, the average starting salary for veterinary graduates is 4,000 yuan ($606) a month. After three years, their earnings can surpass 10,000 yuan ($1,500), higher than the salaries of many graduates of other majors. In addition to regular services offered, Chinese pet hospitals also provide traditional Chinese medicine treatment for dogs, where vets treat animals with acupuncture and electro acupuncture.
Dog training schools are also popular. Skills such as fetching, hand shaking and greeting people politely are favored. Dogs are taught to become friendly and well-mannered, which better integrates them into society.