Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Dog Days of Summer

The Dog Days of Summer are definitely upon us; have been for more than a week now. Temperatures of 100 F. and above have scorched lawns, ruined flower beds so lovingly manicured in April and May, and sent us inside to the comfort of air conditioning for all but the earliest and latest hours of the day.

Valerie, ready to come inside after a short stay outdoors.

Kris, what a long tongue you have, my dear.  (All the better to lick you on the face with, he replies!)

If you are like me, you may have been under the misinformed impression that the term refers to the conspicuous laziness of domesticated dogs during the hottest days of the summer. When speaking of "Dog Days" there seems to be a connotation of lying or "dogging" around, or being "dog tired" on these hot and humid days. A similar myth asserts that the time is so-named because rabid dogs are supposed to be the most common then. Although these meanings have nothing to do with the original source of the phrase, they may have been attached to the phrase in recent years due to common usage or misunderstanding of the origin of the phrase.

A little research on the Wikipedia site reveals that the Romans referred to the dog days as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. 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. The term "Dog Days" was used earlier by the Greeks.

The Dog Days originally were the days when Sirius rose just before or at the same time as sunrise , which is no longer true, owing to precession of the equinoxes. The Romans sacrificed a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather.

 Dog Days were popularly believed to be an evil time "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." according to Brady’s Clavis Calendarium, 1813.

In Ancient Rome, the Dog Days extended from July 24 through August 24, or, alternatively, July 23 through August 23. In many European cultures (German, French, Italian) this period is still said to be the time of the Dog Days.

The Old Farmer's Almanac lists the traditional timing of the Dog Days as the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, coinciding with the ancient heliacal (at sunrise) rising of the Dog Star, Sirius. These are the days of the year when rainfall is at its lowest levels.

My dogs Valerie and Kris get their walks early, before 8 a.m. and late, after 8 p.m. Neither of them like water; hate their baths. This is extremely unusual for a retriever, but both of them have peculiarities and we attribute those to some mistreatment each may have had in their former existence before we adopted them. 

One of our previous Goldens, Rex, LOVED the water. We had a kiddie pool in the backyard, where he splashed around daily.

In loving memory of Rex, whom we had the privilege of owning from 2004 to 2008.

It’s been so long since we’ve had rain that I turn the sprinkler on daily to provide the birds a respite from the hot and dry conditions. At times, many bird species enjoy it together, but I’ve had a really difficult getting a picture. This one below, with a lone male cardinal, was the best I could capture.

We have also noticed the birds taking dirt baths in the loose soil of the vegetable garden. I don’t know if some birds prefer dust baths or if they are simply substituting during the absence of a plentiful water source.

And here's the latest report on Sox, who seems to be adjusting to life inside the house quite well. The picture isn't sharp; my HB shot it quickly, fearing she would wake up and spoil the scene. Doesn't she look comfortable?

A better picture of Sox, who stays most of the time in a room in the basement. We have introduced Kris to her, and they seem to be getting along just fine. Still working on the introduction to Valerie, who won't go down the steps, and Sox, who won't come up the stairs.

And here's a pepper I grew. Before you think I am the world's greatest gardener (I am NOT!) to grow a pepper this large, I must report this was just an anomaly. The plant had only three more peppers, none of which grew to this size. Because I don't want to continue this incessant watering regimen, I am allowing everything to dry up. I just went out and picked this one.

Red bell pepper alongside a Granny Smith apple for comparison.

Here's hoping everyone is having a great weekend!


  1. A Cardinal! I have been wanting to see one for years, on many trips to Nth American. So happy he came to visit your sprinkler. Love all the pet pics; they must really suffer in the awful heat.

    1. Hi Patricia
      Oh we have so many cardinals! Wish you were here to see them. They are obviously special to you, as you named your blog for them. My pets are always happy to return inside after being outside in the heat. We have five barn kitties and I check on them several times each day to ensure they have water (and I take ice to cool it down).

  2. Rex looks like he was a wonderful dog - I love the pool pictures! I am in awe of your red pepper. I have a yellow pepper plant with just the one pepper on it. If I'm lucky, it will get as large as your apple in the picture. Do you get may Cardinals where you live?

    1. He was, Beryl. Goldenseal are fun dogs to have. Yes many cardinals. They are so beautiful.

  3. I never knew, that Dog Days referred to hot weather. I thought that it is the rainy weather, as we have to go out with dogs on those days as well.
    Over here, Cat Days are the days when you spend your day inside- warm and dry! And Dog Days are just the opposite!
    The temperatures you are having, are horrible. Just thinking about the electricity costs too.
    If we have temperatures over + 25°C, we call that heat.
    None of those days at our place this summer yet, so Morty and the horses have no trouble staying outside.
    You are a great gardener. Just look at that pepper of your´s!
    Indeed, it is odd, that your retrievers don´t like water, as it is " in their blood to like it ".
    But then again, retrievers are not supposed to bark, and Morty does quite a lot of barking. He also has developed a watch-dog instinct. He won´t let Hampel near me easily; )..

    1. Hello Mette,
      Interesting that terms, phrases, have different meanings in different countries. Cat Days is a new term for me. I like it!
      We had rain last night! Such a treat to wake up and see everything damp and greener. Today's high was "only" 90 and cooled down to 78 late in the day. Wonderful!
      You are lucky not to have such hot weather. I saw pictures of the flooding in Russia on tonight's news. Did you have any of that?
      Sweet Morty, just thinking he's protecting you from Hempel.

  4. Love seeing the pictures of your sweet doggies. Beautiful pepper. I've been hearing a lot of explanaion about the dog days of summer on tv lately. It's interesting but here in the south in the middle of this heat, it is just times we do not look forward to and anxious for it to pass. Great post.


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