The Year of the Dog

Paws Along the Trail with the Strengths of the Sled Dog

The Chinese New Year begins on Friday, February 16. A Chinese tradition chooses an animal to represent the year. Those born under said animal year supposedly possess the character strengths and weaknesses of that creature. Examples are the monkey, rooster, rat (no, thank you), pig (again, bad connotation), ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, and sheep. There are 12 altogether, and then they rotate. Guess what this year’s animal is? The DOG!! The strengths of those born in 2018 and other dog years in the 12 year cycle are:

faithful, courageous, clever,  great leaders, valiant, loyal, responsible, lively

I don’t know about people, but these strengths definitely fit sled dogs of the Iditarod!

In my state’s standards, the 3rd graders study ancient China and its contributions to the world. To incorporate the Iditarod into this study of dogs is an easy connection. Even the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas is featuring the Year of the Dog with a husky!

A Year of the Dog display at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas features the husky!   [photo credit: Heather Vance]

There are multiple ways to incorporate the Iditarod with the Year of the Dog for the Chinese New Year.

  1. Art projects, drawing a husky with help from illustrator Eric Brooks Husky_6steps
  2. Create a Chinese lantern or kite, folding angles with geometry, adding a husky to the look
  3. Read Shelley Gill’s Alaskan Dog Heroes, Togo by Robert J. Blake, or another sled dog book from the list. Non-fiction book list  Have students summarize the story and pick out character qualities of the dogs.  Chinese New Year Lesson Plan
  4. Go to a mushers’ websites; have students choose one of the dogs and write a creative writing story about the dog, incorporating strong written expression and description of the dog’s personality, character, and looks. 
  5. Use a math word problem figuring out the next time the Year of the Dog can be incorporated into the Iditarod. Year of the Dog Word Problem
  6. For older students, write a creative pourquoi story based on the Chinese animals.  How did each get chosen amongst all the animals in the world?

Personally, I think every year is the Year of the Dog.  Mushers and all Iditarod fans would tend to agree!