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Out with the rooster, in with the dog


During the war, many families in the north would call their noisy, unpleasant guard dog Nick. Short for Nixon, who naturally wasn’t held in great esteem, whack the dog and you were whacking Nixon.


The fact that dogs could be kicked, poked and shouted at, and the fact they could be given names like Nixon and even Johnson — yes, LBJ was also a popular figure of dog-naming hate — shows how low these animals were viewed in Vietnamese society.


These days it’s different. Dogs are increasingly seen as pets, especially among the nouveau riche, and growing numbers of Vietnamese are shying away from eating dog meat. Yet call someone a dog, or a cho in Vietnam, and you are asking for a fight. Even if the comment is made in jest.


Which brings us onto 2018 and the Year of the Dog, the 11th animal in the zodiac. Kicking off on Friday, Feb. 16, with all the negative connotations associated with canines and former American presidents, this year is going to be turbulent. Or at least, that’s what the pundits say.


A Man’s Best Friend?


Dogs are normally seen as a symbol of intelligence and protection, yet dog years can bring many changes, both good and bad. On the economic front they are growth years: although according to the pundit Daniel Hanna on the website, the next 12 months might just bring a “collapse of major institutions and large adjustments in the economy like stock markets and values of currency”. Which means, he says, you should take care with your investments. Which is exactly what we were told last year. And last year was the Year of the Rooster.


Daniel Hanna, however, is a 20-year veteran when it comes to writing about the Chinese zodiac. So, he should know what he’s on about. And one of his most important predictions for 2018 is that this will be a year of immense change, both on a personal and national level. Expect some turmoil.


On a personal front, he explains, we will “see changes in our view on diet, smoking, drinking and junk food”. This will be aided by the inception of new laws designed to let the general public know the true dangers associated with eating and drinking. Coca-Cola and McDonald’s? You’ve been warned.


On a national level, he continues, 2018 will be a “fragile year and we could see many uprisings throughout the world including countries in the Middle East and North Korea, with the demand for fairness and a better standard of living.”


He adds: “It is a year of less affluent areas of the world coming together and introducing new ways to help the less fortunate. Hopefully we will see more fair balance between the rich and poor.”


As for other signs of the zodiac, 2018 will be a difficult year for ‘conflict’ animals, those animals that don’t get along with dogs. So dragons, goats and roosters, beware.


Conversely, tigers, rabbits and horses could have a storming year. As for everyone else, all you buffaloes, monkeys, snakes, pigs and rats out there, not a clue.


All in a Name


Which all brings us back to the complicated business of naming dogs. Considering that 2018 is going to be a year of turbulence, best to name your newly acquired pet after one of the main arbiters of change on the world stage. Putin, Kim Jong Un or Trump anyone?


But as for calling your dog Nick, here at Word we think you should shy away from that one. Not only is the Nixon factor a thing of the past but name your dog Nick and you never know who you might offend.



Nick Ross

Chief editor and co-founder of Word Vietnam, Nick Ross was born in the humble city of London before moving to the less humble climes of Vietnam. His wanderings have taken him to definitely not enough corners of the globe, but being a constant optimist, he still has hopes.


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