The pickup line “What’s your sign?” has been replaced. The ’90s version: “What’s your dog’s sign?” as cosmic as it sounds, it is a down-to-earth question for some astrologers who hope to give dog owners insight into their pooch’s personalities. Animal horoscopes are popping up everywhere: in magazines, at bookstores and on the Internet, a medium perfected for unconventional ideas.
But are animals, like people, affected by the positions and vibrations of the planets?
Of course, believers say. “Dogs, like everything else, have personalities: They’re just not as intense as human personalities,” says Nancee Belshaw, an astrologer and psychotherapist based in L.A. “The planets affect them in subtle ways.”
Because astrological charts can be drawn for almost any event based on the time, place and date of an occurrence, they can also be created for dogs. If you tell an astrologer your dog ‘s birth statistics, they can chart your pet’s horoscope, tell you his sun sign and discuss effects on your dog’s disposition.
For example, Belshaw’s Welsh Terrier is a typical Pisces — she loves water, she says. The terrier jumps into empty bathtubs to lick the sides and dumps her water dish on the floor so she can sit in the puddle.
What’s more, the terrier has a “Capricorn moon,” meaning that at the time of the dog’s birth, the moon was positioned in the section of the zodiac ruled by the constellation Capricorn. Capricorns are “stable, sensuous and persistent,” astrology books say.
The moon is said to be the planet that forms habit patterns. Combine the two and you have a Felix Unger personality, Belshaw says. “Everything [in her life] has to be in order.”
Belshaw runs an astrology website and charts $50 horoscopes for dogs. Her customers use the information for everything from selecting a dog to understanding his idiosyncrasies. “If you have a nice clean house, you wouldn’t want a digger [earth signs],” she says. “Or if you are an older person, you might not want an air sign because they’re so hyper.”
Laura Vasquez of Phoenix, Arizona, hired Belshaw a few years ago to chart her three cats. Now her family wants a dog. At her next appointment with Belshaw, Vasquez will have a basic family chart done to find out the breed that best suits them.
With two children and one on the way, Vasquez wants to “learn about a dog’s character and how to treat them better.” The stars can help determine when to buy the puppy, Belshaw says. “You can find a breeder who’s going to have a litter of Cancers or something.”
Vasquez has been consulting Belshaw for 10 years. Every member of her family has a chart. “It’s just amazing that you can get the character of an animal,” she says. “I recommend it. I know people think it’s crazy, but it works.”
Astrology is an age-old pseudoscience, although astrologers say it is a true science, dating back to the Babylonian and Chaldean cultures. Ancient astrologers studied the behavior of the sun, moon and five planets – the remaining weren’t discovered until this millennium – and forecast how they thought the celestial bodies affected Earth and its inhabitants.
Astrology thrived in the 1300s and 1400s, until astronomers Copernicus and Galileo proved that Earth was not the center of the universe. Despite that find and the discovery of more planets, however, astrology didn’t die. In fact, a Gallup Poll showed that 47 percent of Americans express some belief in astrology.
That includes forecaster Stari Night, a.k.a Gerri Cadiz, editor of “Ilio & Popoki.” For her astrology column, she writes to entertain rather than predict the future. Some examples:
For Libra: A perfect time for romance. Make sure you have homes for puppies before you start making whoopee.
And for Scorpio: Visit your mother…and take her a bone. She may not remember you but she’ll be glad to see you anyway.
“I love horoscopes,” Cadiz says, “I read them, and then 30 seconds later I forget what they say. But they always give you some encouragement and some hope that things are going to get better.”
Even Leslie Traill, a devoted astrologer and co-author of “What’s Your Sign? Astrological Tips for Dogs,” treats canine astrology with humor. Her book features a lighthearted introduction to the subject for dog owners. “I see [my book] as an opportunity to have a good giggle and perhaps learn a little about yourself,” she says. “Astrology allows you to be aware of the positives and negatives in your personalities, and in your dog.”
Astrology can be a useful tool in understanding your dog and meeting his or her needs, astrologers say. For example, if you have a Capricorn, you need to stick to schedules, Belshaw says. Or, if you have an Aquarius, consider owning more than one dog. “Astrology can help you go along with your dog’s natural tendencies.”
So let’s get this straight. The position of Jupiter at the time a dog is born can help you understand your dog’s personality? The theory has its critics.
“That’s as plausible as, say, a dog’s character being affected by the presence of a Boeing 747 somewhere over the world during the birth,” says Andrew Fraknoi, an astronomer at Foothill College near San Francisco.
“One good way to get people to think about the validity of astrology is to suggest a similar ‘science’ not so weighed down with tradition and history,” he sys. “I ask people to consider ‘jetology,’ which contends that the positions of all the world’s jumbo jets at the moment a person is born affects their personality or destiny.”
Scientific studies have proven astrologers have correct predictions about as often as those who guess at them. But astrology attracts believers because they seek guidance and are taken with the idea charts are created especially for them, Fraknoi says.
They also seem to want the same personal attention for their dogs, a dubious precedent if taken seriously, he says.
“The danger occurs when your dog is ill and, instead of taking it to a vet, you’ve taken it to an astrologer and they say, ‘This is just the way a Gemini dog acts.’ If you are a dog owner, should you follow a 3,000-year-old superstition or should you be getting advice from doctors, trainers and pet owners who have a lot of experience?”
Astrology has become more mainstream in the past 15 years, in part because of its popularity among celebrities. Baby boomers, interested in holistic therapies and the New Age, have embraced astrology’s spiritual side. If you believe dogs are affected by the stars, pick up a book on astrology and apply the sun sign’s characteristics to your dog.