The year 2006 — going to the dogs


Jan. 29 was the Chinese Lunar New Year, the official beginning of the year of the dog according to the Chinese calendar. I did some dog-on-the-street interviews to find out what we can expect this year under the helm of the dogs.

Dog No. 1, Baron: “The nation is going to the dogs, which is a good thing, since the chickens have really left us with a mess. Last year was a disastrous year: hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes and the aftermath of the tsunami. The chickens spent a lot of time running around like their heads were cut off. And then, to top it off, they left us with bird flu! We dogs have got to get things back under control. The Japanese have lost confidence in their government too, so we’re planning on employing more government watchdogs to ensure building safety, medical care, etc. Our goals are to build a healthy economy, a decent social welfare program and return to a peaceful political agenda.

“With Japan’s birthrate decreasing and the population graying, Japanese people will depend more and more on us dogs. From police dogs to rescue dogs, seeing eye dogs and guard dogs for private homes, we’re already being overworked. I’d like to see a move to a more reward-based system — more dog bones for hard work and good behavior. And Japan should take a leading role in the world for dogs by providing a safe haven for dogs, like India does for cows.”

Dog No. 2, Larc: “Japan used to be a peaceful country, but now with Koizumi bow-wowing to the president of the U.S., we’ve been coerced into supporting the war in Iraq. And the blunders of the American government now — Iraq-related scandals, secret prisons, wiretapping citizens — just breed fear and suspicion. And Bush says spying on his own citizens is vital? Not even a dog would swallow that. Not to mention WMD — Bush was really barking up the wrong tree with that one. That Bush guy should have been collared by now. I don’t think he’s got a dog’s chance of making much of a difference in Iraq anyway.

“Koizumi will be out of office in September, but the LDP will still be in charge, and you know you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. We hope to see the Japanese peacekeeping forces pull out of Iraq. We have what’s called peace education in Japan: how to accomplish things through peace and nonviolence. But the Koizumi administration seems to have forgotten about that. Those war mongrels — Bush, Blair and Koizumi — are not leaving much of a chance for world peace. A bush is nothing but a good thing to pee on, if you ask me.”

Dog No. 3, Lucky: “While the nation is helping fight wars abroad, the canine community is up in arms about domestic problems such as animal welfare. The welfare system in Japan has got to change. We still have dogs who live in run-down doghouses and lack fresh water. In the meantime, crimes in Japan are becoming more heinous. Did you hear about the dog heads in the moat in Tokyo? And Chihuahuas are being kidnapped and sold on the black market! We need to bring more awareness to the plight of dogs in Japan. Remember, we’re supposed to be best friends, doggone it!”

Dog No. 4, Welsh corgie: “As far as social issues, we’d like to see the dogs reclaim the streets for ourselves. Previously the domain of dogs, the streets are slowly being taken over by groups of young people hanging out and by drunk salarymen. I’d like to see fewer men peeing in public streets as if they were dogs. Perhaps we could put up public peeing posts for humans, like large red fire hydrants for men in town squares.”

There you have it — straight from the dogs themselves. Go, dogs! Let’s hope their bark isn’t bigger than their bite. And remember, “Inu mo arukeba, bo ni ataru”: “When a dog goes on a walk, he’s bound to find some stick.”