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Happy new Chinese year. The Chinese New Year starts on a different date each year and this year it begins today: February 16th.  We are moving from the year of Yin Fire Rooster of 2017 to the slower paced Yang Earth Dog of 2018.

I wonder if you will feel the changes of the animal. The Rooster embodies more the qualities of creative, quick thinking, fiery, flamboyant, friendly and outgoing energies. The Dog embodies more stable qualities. I don’t feel that we should view the yearly changes in animals in an overly simplistic, predictive way. Instead, we can use them as an opportunity to focus on different qualities of being and to understand that each year does have a different energy.

I have been writing these Chinese animal blogs since my first one on the Snake in February 2013.  You might like to review some of those posts as I give general information on the significance of the animal signs in Chinese culture and reflections on how we can relate to them today. The Horse was in 2014 followed by the Goat in 2015 and the Monkey in 2016.



I missed out on writing about the Rooster last year, partly because my dog Jed died at the end of January.  This year it feels poignant to reflect on the nature of dogs while I honour the anniversary of Jed’s passing.


Each year there is a change of animals, there are 12 animals, but there is also a change from Yin to Yang and every two years a change of element. The easiest way to remember this is:

If the year ends in 0 it is Yang Metal.

If the year ends in 1 it is Yin Metal.

If the year ends in 2 it is Yang Water.

If the year ends in 3 it is Yin Water.

If the year ends in 4 it is Yang Wood.

If the year ends in 5 it is Yin Wood.

If the year ends in 6 it is Yang Fire.

If the year ends in 7 it is Yin Fire.

If the year ends in 8 it is Yang Earth.

If the year ends in 9 it is Yin Earth.

I have written in various other blogs about the difference between Yin and Yang and each of the elements: The Nature of the Elements in our Body and Space, the Missing Element. Yin is essentially a more inward energy and Yang a more outward. Today, 16th February 2018 we are entering the Yang, Earth Dog. Earth is a more solid and grounding quality than the Fire of the Rooster last year, but the Rooster was Yin Fire which is a more inward quality of Fire. Dog is in Yang Earth, which is a more outward expression of Earth.

The rooster is by nature Yin Metal, so it was expressing the fierier aspects of its nature last year. The dog is by its nature Yang Metal.  This means that being in the Yang Earth it is drawing out the earthier qualities, of stability and loyalty rather than the Metal qualities of boundaries and communication.  I think we all consider dogs generally to be loyal, good natured, wanting to help people, having a quiet life and focusing on the beauty and joy on Earth. However, dogs, like all living creatures, can be abused and betrayed and if this happens they will be shocked and hurt.

Dogs tend to be very connected to the person they think is the most important in their life. I was extremely touched by the fact that Jed, my dog, waited for me to return from a 6-week trip away, until he got ill. He had been not so strong before I left, he was nearly 14, but it was on the day I was flying home that my daughter told me he worsened.  Apparently, it is not uncommon for dogs to do this. He always knew when we were coming home, but I was in Thailand at the time, so I was amazed how he could sense that over such a distance.

Obviously, the temperament of dogs depends a lot on their breed. My dog Jed, was a whippet. When he was out he loved and needed to run: and was always on the alert. When he was at home he would curl up like a cat. My grandparents always used to have Collies: they needed to be outside all day long, needing an activity to keep them engaged.

The Earth dog: means a more stable, solid, grounded dog, communicative, serious, and responsible in work. Although it is interesting then to discover that both Madonna and Michael Jackson are earth dogs

So, I wish you a year of having time to connect with the important people in your lives in a loving, caring way. I hope you have time to share earthy activities such as walking, making things, singing, dancing, cooking and eating together. Earth is very much the energy of “mothering”: caring and being there for each other.  I hope you will be able to find the places of calm and support when you need them.

Take what you like from these reflections, and please leave comments on the blog page. I love having discussions about your feelings about the different qualities of the years.



  1. Adeline Kuiken on 21/02/2018 at 8:23 am

    Hi Suzanne, thanks for this blog. I very much enjoyed reading it. I will be giving a workshop on the Earth-element next month, and your text has inspired me to put some of your ideas on this ‘yang earth dog’ year into it. Also great to know that not only this year will be a Earth year, but that next year will be a yin earth year. Looking forward to 2 lovely solid and grounded years. Thanks! Best wishes, Adeline

    • suzanneyates on 26/02/2018 at 8:35 pm

      Ah glad that my blog has given you some ideas. Good luck with your workshop

  2. Liz Arundel on 16/02/2018 at 9:17 pm

    Hi Susanne,
    Happy New Year to you! I love this blog, I’ve just got a new puppy, almost 2 years after my first dog passed away and left a huge hole in our lives. He also waited for me to come home from a trip and passed away shortly after I got back.

    My son and partner are dogs too so loyal, grounded people to be around. For the first time in 30 years I am teaching less and staying home more which feels a great thing to do. To walk on the beach and be in my house instead of travelling long distances to work.

    Much love to you and hope to see you at Congress in Edinburgh xxx

    • suzanneyates on 18/02/2018 at 4:19 pm

      Lovely to hear that you are enjoying your new puppy and interesting that your first dog also waiting for you to return before he passed away.
      Yes I too am longing to create some more space to be home!
      I’d love to come to Congress but sadly I have too much other teaching to make it. I hope you all have a wonderful time!

  3. susanne eichhammer on 16/02/2018 at 2:26 pm

    thank you so much, dear Suzanne, for your touching words!!! and I am so sorry for the loss of Jed!!! thank you for this interesting input, I am longing for some good earth-energy, though me, myself, I am quite an earth-type. So my challenge is always strenghten my wood;-) In the moment, I din‘t feel quite a difference from rooster to dog, but I will feel into it! thank you very much!!!

    • suzanneyates on 16/02/2018 at 3:26 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the blog and I wish you good earth energy. It is still early days of the rooster to the dog! So there won’t be so much difference yet! Be good to see how it changes. But of course we are still in the Yin season time, water. As spring approaches wood will get stronger and hopefully this will support you!
      Best wishes Suzanne

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