Those Dog Days of Summer

Dogs in the garden

Is that a squirrel? In this heat??

Ah the dog days of summer. That stretch of sultry, humid weather that brings anything remotely strenuous to a standstill. Ask most people where the term comes from and you might get something about it being too hot for even a dog to move.  There’s a lot of truth to that, as my dogs can attest.

Dogs eating watermelonOutdoor time these days consists of short trots instead of runs, followed by a rest in the shade under the squash plants before finishing up with a plate of watermelon on the deck.

Yeah… I know, it’s a hard life.

It turns out the phrase “dog days of summer” has some interesting history. Ancient celestial observers noted that Sirius, also known as the Dog Star, appeared in the Eastern skies just before dawn during late summer. Mythology has it that those observers attributed the star’s appearance, rising right before the burning August sun, as responsible for the undue heat and humidity that occurs with this time of year. Since Sirius is about 7000 degrees hotter than our own sun, there might be some truth to the myth!

If you’re interested in seeing Sirius, you won’t have any Canis Majorproblem finding it. Go outside just before dawn on a clear early morning and look to the East for the brightest star in the sky at that time.  It might be bright white tinged with blue or flicker with colors, either way, you’ll know it when you see it.Orion If you know your constellations and want a truly spectacular show, find Orion’s belt (the three bright stars close together in the middle) and draw a straight line outward and down to Sirius.


On a more serious note, it IS hot out there. Be extra careful if you work outside and keep your animal’s comfort in mind as well.  Dogs get sunburned, heat stroke and suffer from exposure, just like you. Never leave a dog or a child in a car, even with the windows down. It only takes minutes for an irreversible tragedy to take place.

Alternatives to leaving your pet in the car

Image courtesy of PetFinder