Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Tags Posts tagged with "Dog days"

Dog days

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The dog days of summer have trotted in, circled three times, and plopped down for a spell.

If this were Ancient Rome, some wonderful red dog would have given its life in April to tame the heat, irritation and pestilence of the dog days (dies caniculares).

Ancient people called this period the “dog days” because Sirius the Dog Star rose just before or with the sun during this period. (Sirius is the nose of the Canis Major [Big Dog] constellation.)

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National Dog Day was this week. It’s made me think of all the things I celebrate about Joey every day. When I adopted him from the Amanda Foundation in July of 2004, I had no idea how much I was about to blessed with.

Here are just a few of the things I celebrate on National Dog Day:

  • A cold wet nose that can smell 10,000 to 100,000 times better than I can, according to the scientists. For Joey, every scent is a story. (On some walks, it seems like the story is War and Peace rather than O Henry’s “Gift of the Magi.”)


The dog days of summer begin today, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, and run until Aug. 11. To the ancient Greeks and Romans, it was a time of heat, illness and discord among people.

But why are these dog days?

Well, the answer begins with a dog — Orion’s big hunting dog, the Romans believed. Laelaps, the dog that never failed to catch what it hunted, the Greeks believed. No matter the name, the brightest star of the night sky marks the dog’s nose or shoulder, depending on the illustration. The star is Sirius, the dog star. The 40 days that follow the sighting of Sirius rising near sunrise is the start of the dog days of summer.

The combination of bright star, bright sun and hot summer days lead to this portion of the summer being called the “dog days” of summer. It is a time of unstable, malevolent forces.  The Greeks described anyone suffering from the ill effects of Sirius as “star-struck.”

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