Midway through the celebrations that mark the Lunar New Year, we find ourselves reflecting on the opportunity that it presents. A quick primer for the uninitiated: in Chinese astrology, there are 12 animals and 5 elements, each of which has its own “chi”, or life force. 2023 is the year of the Rabbit, and years ending in 2 or 3 are water years, and so 2023 is the year of the Water Rabbit. Rabbits are symbols of longevity, peace, and prosperity; water connotes responsiveness and persuasion. What’s more, the Rabbit’s corresponding element is wood, and since wood needs water to grow, this is considered particularly auspicious. Thus 2023 is predicted to be a year of growth, prosperity, and much good hope. Sounds pretty great to us!
So with a view to new beginnings and renewed energy, we have some ideas and suggestions for our fellow canine Stans as to how we can do more with - and for - our four-legged friends. There are at least 90 million dogs in the USA, and that means 90 million opportunities for dogs and their humans to win at life in 2023. For the sake of your sanity, and ours, we won’t list all 90 million, but a few of our favorites that we think you’ll enjoy!
First up, let’s talk about training. Dogs, as humans, are happiest when they know what to do and what not to do. We are led to believe that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and while it’s certainly true that puppies are the more frequent students, all dogs can benefit from a little help figuring out how to be a dog. The key is to understand your dog’s personality and learning style and proceed accordingly. Have a shy dog? Take it slowly and don’t rush to socializing her. Have an anxious dog? Use CBD dog calming gummis to quell her nerves. Have a stubborn dog? Be patient and repeat a routine where you redirect her towards positive versions of the things she does; so let’s say she is a shoe chewer, show she can carry your shoe to you rather than snack on it. If she loves to jump up at houseguests, show her to her bed and reward her with a treat when she jumps into it instead. We’ve had particular success with this heated pet bed from Creative Solutions, and frankly it’s no surprise! Who wouldn’t want to curl up on something so warm and cozy? We kind of want one for ourselves. Paired with some extra delicious Crown to Tail Oatmeal Cookie soft chew treats, you really can’t go wrong! Want to know more? We're always glad to help with training tips, techniques, and treats, so if you are local to our Beaverton, OR, store, why not stop by?
One of the things we love most about dog parenting is the range of things you can do with your dog. Whilst we have in the past traveled with our dogs, vacationed with them in pet friendly hotels and spent entire flights negotiating with our dogs over those delicious caramelized cookies the crew hands out, we recently took them on a walking tour of our home city which was a revelation. Seeing familiar places through new eyes was a reminder that new adventures present themselves all the time, it’s just a question of noticing them. Ready to explore? Great! Depending on where you live, choose your kit accordingly; city pets can represent with this Cycle Dog Portland Love collar and Oregon Love leash, whilst those who find themselves in more rural terrain would certainly be the hottest hiker with this Hipster Hands Free Walking Belt and Leash from Dolan which comes in 3 sizes and is lined with neoprene so the belt won’t move and twist no matter how active you and your dog are. It also works well for parent-pet jogs which, we’re told, are super fun (our speed is more walk than run, thanks to our dachshund’s short legs 😂). Find links to great walks and trails for dogs all over the country here.
As much as we love the great outdoors, it is still winter and there are days when we have zero desire to roam too far from the coziness of the, er, great indoors. And on those days, my friend, there is no better way to pass the time than a dog scavenger hunt! Hide treats at different locations in your home, and, if you have one, your backyard, and watch your dog follow her nose to the buried treasures. You can make it even more challenging with these super cute Zippy Paws Milk & Cookie burrow toys - tuck a treat behind the removable plush cookies and sit back and enjoy. Of course there is always a risk that your dog will never again be satisfied with a treat-free toy, so maybe order a few extra yummy morsels to avoid doggie disappointment!
Last but not least, did you know that there are an estimated 500,000 service dogs in the USA? These working wonders perform all sorts of tasks for their owners from acting as their eyes and ears to working as sensory signal dogs who can help neurologically diverse people who might become overwhelmed or anxious in certain situations. There are even dogs who can help veterans with PTSD, by alerting them when someone approaches from behind, interrupting panic attacks, or waking them up from nightmares.
As you can imagine, the training required to do these things is intense and takes specialist skills, but the great news is that anyone can learn. Atlas Assistance Dogs, which is based in Bellevue, WA, is an organization that trains service dog trainers and is currently seeking applications for its spring 2023 workshop cohort. They are especially looking for people in or near Seattle WA, Portland, OR; Los Angeles, CA; Saint George, UT; Denver, CO; Atlanta, GA; Durham, NC; Lancaster, PA; and New York City, NY, but applications are welcomed from people anywhere in the US who want to become service dog trainers. The courses are free, and more information can be found here. Plus, there are tons of other ways to get involved as a volunteer, including expanding the depth of Atlas’ board, helping with operations, expanding trainer offerings, client advocacy, outreach, fundraising, writing, and many many more; whether you have a little time or a lot, the rewards are huge!
However you choose to leap into the year of the Rabbit, we wish you prosperity, joy, and of course, the perfect peace that comes from pets. We’d be lost without them.
新年快乐 (xīn nián kuài lè), Happy New Year!
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