It is a phrase that we hear every summer. And when we do, it is usually blistering hot, and we assume that it means that the hot weather makes all of us just want to stay inside and lay around the house, just like our dogs. But of course, if you know our dog Sophie who is pictured in this story, laying around the house is something she enjoys year around. So, what does the phrase “dog days of summer” mean? Where did this phrase originate?
I must confess that I did not know how this phrase evolved over the years. In fact, I too just assumed that it meant that we and our dogs just wanted to lay around and pant during the days of extreme heat. But when I did a little review of the online literature, I was surprised to find the answer.
First, there is an official calendar period for the dog days of summer. I did not know this either, but I found that the official time is between July 3 and August 11, according to Wikipedia. Why?
The answer lies in astronomy, which is something else I did not know. According to the Farmers Almanac (farmersalmanac.com), “The period from Jully 3 to August 11th is referred to as the Dog Days of Summer. Some say that it signifies hot sultry “not fit for dogs” weather in which dogs go mad. The Dog Days of Summer describes the most oppressive period of the summer. But the phrase is actually a reference to the fact that, during this time, the Sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirus, the brightest star visible from any part of Earth and part of the constellation Canis Major, The Greater Dog. That is why Sirus is sometimes called the dog star.”
So, my take from the literature is that the phrase is associated with very hot weather, and it would be easy for anyone to assume that is the meaning and /or the origin of the phrase. But, again, I must confess, I did not know it was based in astronomy with the star Sirus being dubbed as “The Dog Star.” We learn something everyday.
So, for the next four to five weeks, if you catch yourself gazing at the evening sky along with your dog on a hot and humid Arkansas night, you may have more in common with your dog than you already think you do.
And that leads me to another catch phrase…”Man’s Best Friend”. Now, I realize our bond is universal. No wonder dog owners have such a strong connection with their four-legged friends!