Chinese people are waiting for the Year of the Dog. FILE PHOTO
A saying goes, “Dogs are man’s best friend.” This sums up the attitude toward dogs that many people around the world share. It means that dogs are loyal, and will stay with their owners through thick and thin.
The Year of the Dog will begin on Feb 16, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. Although they are seen as companions and part of the family today, China and Western countries have different cultural beliefs about dogs.
In Chinese, some words concerning dogs have derogatory meaning, such as “No ivory can come out of a dog’s mouth.” But in English, the situation is different. People use “every dog has his day” to describe a period of good fortune and “work like a dog” to describe a hard worker.
在中文中，和狗相关的一些词带有贬义，如“狗嘴里吐不出象牙”。但在英文中，情况却大不相同。人们用“every dog has his day”来形容好运到来，用“work like a dog”来描述一个人工作勤勉。
The dog-human relationship goes right back to the beginnings of Western civilization. Perhaps the most moving example is from the 8th century BC, in Greek poet Homer’s The Odyssey.
When Greek hero Odysseus finally returns home after 20 years away at war, he’s in disguise. Only one person – sorry, animal – recognizes him: his dog, Argos. Argos is an old, ill dog, and is about to die; but he is overjoyed to see his master again after so many years.
希腊英雄奥德修斯因战争在外漂泊20年后，乔装改扮归乡。只有一个人 —— 对不起，是一只动物 —— 认出了他：他的狗阿尔戈斯。阿尔戈斯已是风烛残年，而且疾病缠身，奄奄一息；但见到多年未见的主人仍万分高兴。
In later centuries, the friendship between humans and dogs was a common subject for artists. For example, Dutch artist Breughel’s painting The Hunters in the Snow (1565) depicts a foreground detail of hunting dogs at the heels of hunters as they return from the hunt to their snow-covered homestead.
In fact, people were close to dogs in a way that they weren’t close to cows, pigs or even horses. Farmers worked closely with dogs. But even after science came to agriculture and dogs lost their traditional roles, the relationship between man and dogs remained.
Nowadays in the West, millions of people keep dogs as pets. People feed them, take them on holidays and look after them. In return, dogs are loyal in a way that friends sometimes aren’t. As the US musician Don Van Vliet once said, “You can tell by the kindness of a dog how a human should be.”
如今在西方，数百万人都养狗作宠物。人们喂养狗，带其出游并悉心照料。而狗对主人的忠诚即便是朋友有时也比不上。正如美国音乐家Don Van Vliet所说的那样，“一只狗的善良能告诉你该如何做人。”