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Talk about a triple threat. Last week we celebrated Valentine’s Day, Ash Wednesday and dropped into the Year of the Dog.

If you follow the Chinese lunar calendar, Feb. 16 marked the beginning of the Year of the Dog and, by the way, I’ve got the perfect recipe to celebrate the occasion. More about that later.

But first, just what does the Year of the Dog mean to us mere mortals? Basically, the Chinese zodiac recognizes the lunar years that appear on their calendar. The Year of the Dog is one of the 12-year animal cycles and 2018 is associated with the Earthly Branch, a designation that occurs at 60-year intervals. Earth is one of five elements, it’s the ninth in the lunar month and its Yin Yang is Yang.

By the way, yin is female and yang is the male element, so I guess not only is it the Year of the Dog, you might say that in 2018 guys rule!

The dog’s season is autumn, and lucky colors are green, red and purple. Devotees say you dogs should avoid blue, white and gold.

With Valentine’s Day still in in mind, let’s check in on your compatible signs. As a dog, look for romance among other dogs, tigers or even a horse. Those in the know say avoid potential mates born in the year of the dragon. But you might do alright with a pig, rabbit, goat, snake, rooster, ox, monkey or rat. Apparently for you dogs, it’s practically a wide-open field.

Since 2018’s Year of the Dog is associated with the element earth, you might like to know that it represents a balance of both yin and yang, the feminine and masculine together. Both inward and centering, earth and its energy is stabilizing and conserving.

The Chinese think earth is associated with the qualities of patience, thoughtfulness, practicality, hard work and stability — good qualities all.

The earth element is also nurturing and seeks harmony, rootedness and stability. Other attributes include ambition, stubbornness, responsibility and long term planning. Sounds like most dogs I know. I am a rabbit, for all that means.

Now to honor and treat our canine friends during their year, here’s a time-tested recipe for homemade dog bones. I’ve made these many times for my doggie friends and, I’m pleased to admit, they’ve gotten gold-star, tail-waggin’ accolades.

Dog Bones

¼ c. warm water

1½ tsp. sugar

1 pkg. dry active yeast

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4 c. white flour

2½ c. whole wheat flour

1 c. cornmeal or 2 c. cracked wheat

½ c. dry nonfat milk

4 tsp. kelp powder (or 4 tsp. dried parsley)

4 c. chicken (or beef) broth

Mix sugar in warm water and stir in yeast. Let sit until well-activated, the more bubbles the better. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl, add yeast mixture and 3 cups of the broth. Use hands to form dough and add more broth as needed to incorporate all dry ingredients. Divide in half, knead one portion on a lightly floured board until smooth and pliable, keeping other covered with a damp cloth. Roll out to ¼-inch thickness and cut with bone-shaped cookie cutter or by free hand, or cut into circles with a biscuit cutter. Reroll scraps and cut until all is used. Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until lightly browned. This makes about 100 bones or 80 cookies.

If you want to fancy them up, make a glaze with 1 egg and 2 tablespoons milk. Mix well and brush bones before baking.

Santa Ynez Valley resident Elaine Revelle can be reached at