"Foo Dogs" - sacred guardians

For thousands of years, a twelve-year cycle named after various real or mythological animals has been used in Southeast Asia. This twelve-year cycle, sometimes referred to as the "Chinese zodiac," associates each year in turn with a certain creature, in a fixed order of twelve animals, after which it returns to the first in the order, the Rat. The eleventh in the cycle is the Dog.

One account is that the order of the beings-of-the-year is due to their order in a racing contest involving swimming across a river, in the so-called Great Race. The reason for the Dog finishing the race second from last despite generally being a talented swimmer is explained as being due to its playful nature: the Dog played and frolicked along the way, thus delaying completing the course and reaching the finishing line.

The next Year of the Dog in the Chinese calendar is February 16, 2018 to February 4, 2019 (Year of the Yang Earth Dog). The personalities of people born in Dog years are popularly supposed to share certain attributes associated with Dogs, such as loyalty or exuberance; however, this would be modified according to other considerations of Chinese astrology, such as the influences of the month, day and hour of birth, according to the traditional system of Earthly Branches, in which the zodiacal animals are also associated with the months and times of the day (and night), in twelve two-hour increments.

The Hour of the Dog is 7 to 9 p.m., and the Dog is associated with the ninth lunar month.