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20-year-old dog and 140-year-old human

By Zhao Qiguang | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2013-03-11 14:02

Of all the philosophies, ancient or modern, Western or Chinese, Daoism values life most dearly. I follow the Daoist tradition and have been teaching a course called the Daoist Way of Health and Longevity at Carleton College, Northfield, MN, for more than ten years. In this class I combine Daoist practices of health and longevity such as Taichi with modern sciences in medicine and nutrition. Every time I offer this course, I have one of the highest enrollments in our college.

20-year-old dog and 140-year-old human
Zhao Qiguang and his 20-year-old dog. Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn

In the West, social custom follows the teaching of Francis Bacon that every theory should be validated by experimentation. You cannot just make claims, you have to talk the talk and walk the walk.

 I have a most persuasive "living evidence" that I have created, and my American students are whole-heartedly convinced. My living evidence is Huanhuan, my lovable common mutt dog, one that people normally would not give a second glance.

This kind of dog typically has the lifespan of ten to twelve years, but Huanhuan has lived to be twenty years old. Even more amazingly, I took him to China in August, 2011 and brought him back to the US in November, 2012. This mutt flew over the Pacific twice, and every neighbor of mine in Shanghai and Northfield agrees that he is still as happy and bouncy as a puppy.

We walk outside on the coldest day in Minnesota when it is too cold for most dogs to go out to the lawn for two minutes to do their business. I like to see my Minnesotan neighbors taken aback when I tell them Huanhuan is twenty years old.

The lifespan of a human being should be seven times that of a dog, so transferring to human age, Huanhuan should be 140 years old. I recommend my readers take this lifespan as their new year’s resolution.

The following are a few examples about how I have raised Huanhuan with the Daoist way of health and longevity. Daoist mythology of longevity has been converted to scientific facts. They are not only true for the health and longevity of dogs, but are also true for human beings.

Eat less.

The dog's ancestor is the wolf. Hunger is the wolf's drive for life. As long as the wolf's stomach is full, he will lie there without moving. Laozi said, "Eat too much and have a swollen body, and nature will dislike you, so the Daoists do not live this way."

According to my observation, a dog who has eaten to his heart's content and lies around afterwards will usually not live more than ten years. I think dogs and human beings should eat sixty percent full, i.e., Greek philosophers' "golden section," 0.618.

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