In the Western world, New Year’s celebrations ended.  However, in the Eastern world, the Chinese New Year officially starts today.  February 16th is the start of the New Year, and there will be many festivities to ring in the year of the dog.   The year of the dog will end on New Year’s Eve on February 4, 2019.  In the United States, there is always a big celebration in New York’s Chinatown.  In Chinese astrology, the horoscope is based on the year that you were born.  In the Western zodiac, your horoscope is derived from the month and date that you were born.  This year, 2018, is the year of the dog.

Since it is the year of the dog, many people may think that those born under the year of the dog will have an auspicious year.  According to Chinese astrology, when the year falls under your sign, you will not be fortunate.  The good news is that all the other 11 signs, of the Chinese zodiac, will have a better year than the dog.

The forecast for those born under the dog sign is that 2018 will be a year full of challenges.  They will have problems in their professional as well as in their personal life.  Since dogs have the characteristics of being brave, determined, honest and intelligent, there is no doubt that they will overcome the obstacles that will face them.

In order to ward off any bad luck that they may experience this year, those born under the dog sign should year colors that are lucky for them such as green, red and purple.  They should avoid unlucky colors such as blue, white and golden, especially in 2018.

Since I was born under the dog sign, this sign has special significance for me.  Leaders who were born under the dog sign include Winston Churchill, Bill Clinton, Benjamin Franklin, Golda Meir and Prince William.  Jane Goodall, an animal lover, who saved apes, was also born under the dog sign.  Famous artists born under the dog sign are Jennifer Lopez, Michael Jackson, Madonna and Shirley McLaine among many others.

Even if you were not born under the dog sign, the dog may be meaningful for you, especially if you are a dog lover.  Known as “man’s best friend,” dogs play many roles in our lives.  There are police dogs, military dogs, hunting dogs, herding dogs, working dogs, service dogs, therapy dogs, pet dogs and medical detection dogs.

Medical detection dogs use their amazing sense of smell to detect diseases in humans.  Daisy, a Labrador Retriever, found cancer in 551 patients with an accuracy of 93 percent.  As a reward for helping to save many lives, Daisy received the Blue Cross Medal for pets.

Always giving us unconditional love, most dogs are our pets.  Sometimes our pet dogs even teach us lifelong lessons.  Of all the dogs that I have had, Honey and Bambi are two dogs that I will never forget.  After he came home from work, my father bought a stray dog home.  The dog’s hair was so tangled that it resembled a mop.  My mother cut the dog’s hair, and I was finally able to see its beautiful face.  She was a Shih Tzu and Poodle mix.  She was affectionate and highly intelligent.  I named her Honey since she had a light golden color.

After Honey came into my life, my grandmother found a white dog, tied to a tree, near my house.  She was a Bichon Frise, but she was blind.  I named her Bambi because she had a gentle nature.  Since she could not see, she often bumped into the walls of my house.  As a clever and good dog, Honey helped Bambi walk around the house.  She did this instinctively he took became such close sisters.

On walks to the park, Honey guided Bambi.  Honey always protected Bambi making sure that she was always safe.  If only all humans were as good as these two dogs.  Naturally knowing that Bambi was disabled, Honey simply helped her never asking for anything in return.  When someone does not fit the definition of perfect in this society, some people simply make fun of that person.  They are branded as outcasts, but the truth is that no one is superior to anyone else.  Being smarter than many humans, Honey knew this.  Even though she could not speak, she spoke volumes to me through her actions.  No wonder I will never forget the special relationship that Honey and Bambi had.

In addition to teaching us life lessons, research shows that people who have dogs live better lives.  Children who have dogs have a better attendance rate than those who do not.  Youngsters, who have ADHD, who had contact with dogs, learned more in school.  They were also more gregarious with their peers and were less violent.  People who have dogs get more exercise than those with cats or other pets.  The dog served as a motivation to get off the couch and enjoy a brisk walk outside.

During the Year of the Dog, Lucky and King, pictured above, are two pets that I cherish. [Featured image by Lucy Santos]

During the Year of the Dog, King and Lucky, pictured above, are two pets that I cherish. [Image by Lucy Santos]

Not only do dogs help children and adults, they also assist the elderly.  People with Alzheimer’s disease, who had contact with therapy dogs, laughed and smiled more than those who did not.

As man’s best friend, dogs serve us in a multitude of ways.  Sadly, 3 to 4 million dogs are euthanized in the United States each year.  If you love dogs, a great way to celebrate the year of the dog is to adopt a dog from a shelter.  By saving the life of a dog, you will receive the gift of companionship.