Ever wonder where the phrase "The dog days of summer" came from? Recently I heard a reference to the phrase and I had this vague recollection that it had something to do with the lunar calendar. I couldn't really remember if that was true, so I looked it up!
In a nutshell... the term dates back to Aristotle, but the Ancient Romans appear to be the ones who associated the hot weather days with the star Siruis. They considered Sirius to be the "dog star" because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog). Sirius is also the brightest star in the night sky. They referred to the dog days as dies caniculares and The Dog Days ran from July 24th through August 24th.
The Old Farmer's Almanac lists the traditional period as the 40 days beginning July 23rd and ending August 11th, coinciding with the ancient helical rising of the Dog Star, Sirius. But the fun doesn't stop there! The "dog Daies" are also referenced in editions of the Book of Common Prayer and the King James Bible and everyone seems to have a slightly different start date, but from what I can figure it appears the current dates are July 16th through August 24th. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!
Originally the Dog Days were the days when Sirius rose just before or at the same time as the sun, which is no longer the case due to precession of the equinoxes (you can look that up). According to Wikipedia, the Romans would... I'll whisper this part... sacrifice a red dog... in April to appease the rage of Sirius because they believed the star was the cause of the hot weather.
Many believed the Dog Days were an evil time – in Brady’s Clavis Calendaria, 1813, he states "the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies." Really? A bit dramatic, if you ask me.
To most of us today, the phrase dog days refers to the "sultry" (love that word) days of summer. In the Northern Hemisphere, the dog days of summer are most commonly experienced in the months of July and August, which typically observe the warmest summer temperatures. In the Southern Hemisphere, they typically occur in January and February, in the midst of the austral summer.
When it gets sultry, we tend to go to Dog Beach or Fiesta Island to beat the heat. Quigley gets hot easily and Pamela loves to swim, so a stroll along the beach keeps the whole family happy. The bath after seems to be less appreciated by the pups, but from the pet parent perspective it's half the reason for the trip to the beach. The other reason is knowing P & Q will lounge about the rest of the day fully content and snoring. To me, while I associate the dog days with heat (similar to the Romans), I also associate them with fun.
On a side note: If you are looking for fun with your dog, check out the Dog Days of Summer event in Cardiff on Saturday, August 9th - we'll see you there for some sultry summertime fun!
Have a Pawsitively Tail Waggin’ Good Day!
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