Dog Days

Early Greeks and Romans came up with the idea of the dog days of summer. When summer turned hot and sultry in late August, they looked up at the sky and noticed that the biggest and brightest star in the sky, Sirius, seemed to rise and set with the sun.

They decided amongst themselves that this meant that during the summer, Sirius was adding its heat to the sun and hiking up the thermometer. Sirius which meant scorching, is in Canis Major (Big Dog) — so it was nicknamed the Dog Star and the last days of summer became known as the Dog Days.

The ancients believed the heat spike made men sluggish and wine sour and caused animals to go mad. Some leading citizens went so far, for crying out loud, to sacrifice a dog at the beginning of the season to try to distract the demon Sirius.

Though all the foolishness about appeasing the gods died down through time, the term, Dog Days of Summer, persists. Goes to show you can’t beat a good slogan. Nowadays we have more civilized ways of coping. Say, a Sunday afternoon on the porch with a tumbler full of ice, malt liquor and lime. And our dogs, well — you be the judge.

Image by Greg Mankiss

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