Dog Years

Thinking this morning about the multi-faceted culture of the Mosuo people, an agrarian tribe living on Lugu Lake  in China. There are many reasons to study these unique people of the "Women's Kingdom," with their special method of preserving pork, traditionally sustainable growing practices,  brightly colored fabrics, and strongly matriarchal socio-political system. My mind keeps returning to a lovely Mosuo myth involving dogs. 

 It is traditional for each Mosuo child to be formally celebrated into their 13th year on January 1st, in a feast with specific rituals symbolic of new adult rights and responsibilities. Standing at the support pole for the mother's house, one foot on pork, the other on rice, each child dons the full skirt, or long trousers, of their first set of adult clothing. They complete their step into adulthood by offering food to the household dogs; the first of a lifetime of such formally offered meals. Here is the story behind that ritual. 

In the ancient times, men and animals lived together for a long time, and things got crowded. Later, God set age limits for all living creatures, saying they should listen for his voice, he would call out a number of years, and they should respond if that is how long they want to live. God shouted at midnight on Dec 30, and granted that life span to whoever answered the call. God shouted "1,000 years" the first time. All animals were asleep except for the vigilant white cranes. They answered the call and had a 1,000-year lifetime.

And so it went - God shouted 100 years, and the geese heard and answered. Then God shouted 60 years, and dogs heard and answered. It continued, with each creature awakening to choose their years on earth. Humans were sleeping, and answered only when God shouted 13 years. Humans felt that life span was too short, and appealed to God to give them a longer life, but God said all the lifespans were given out, and they would have to trade with someone else. The dog said humans need to live longer, so they willingly traded lifespans, but only if the humans promise to feed and care for them always, and so humans live to be 60, but dogs only to 13. Thus, humans began to feed dogs three meals a day and treat dogs with a feast on January 1st, during a children’s coming-of-age ceremony, to thank the dogs for their mercy. Each child dons new clothing, symbolic of their new adult status, and as a symbol of their adult responsibility, offer food to the household dogs, a task they willingly take on, to honor the fleeting but generous life of the dog. 

 Well, I'm delighted to be considered an adult worthy of feeding dogs! My goal is to feed dogs in such an optimal way that 13 years finds them hale and hearty. Why not 15 or 20 years? If you haven't tried Charley Chow for your dog yet, please ask me at the market, or stop by Little House Green Grocery, it's an easy, inexpensive way to give a raw diet a try. Hope to see you at the market soon.

If your pet enjoys the treats or foods from DogTown Lounge, please consider donating to the crowd-fund to help take this Lounge on the road. Sharing is appreciated!

With that, I leave you with the traditional blessing each Mosuo child hears as they enter into adulthood.

"Today is a good day. The sun is nice, the moon is nice, the stars are nice, and everything is nice. You put on your big skirts/trousers, may you live a long life and have plenty of food and clothing ..."