The Padres did it right at Petco Park on August 27th. Before the game, I’ll bet there were a hundred dogs paraded around the field wearing red, white, and blue bandanas, baseball caps, and Padres capes. There were small dogs, big dogs, tall dogs and short dogs–all kinds–with owners proud to strut their stuff.
So it got me thinking. Are the dog days of summer over? As we celebrate this coming Labor Day, tip your baseball cap to one of the best weekends of the summer, and give your dog a pat on the head for me too.
The Dog Days of Summer:
The “dog days of summer” occur during the hottest and muggiest part of the season. Webster defines “dog days” as…
1 : the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere
2 : a period of stagnation or inactivity.
But where does the term come from? Why do we call the hot, sultry days of summer “dog days?”
In ancient times, when the night sky was unobscured by artificial lights and smog, different groups of peoples in different parts of the world drew images in the sky by “connecting the dots” of stars. The images drawn were dependent upon the culture: The Chinese saw different images than the Native Americans, who saw different pictures than the Europeans. These star pictures are now called constellations, and the constellations that are now mapped out in the sky come from our European ancestors.
They saw images of bears, (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor), twins, (Gemini), a bull, (Taurus), and others, including dogs, (Canis Major and Canis Minor). The brightest of the stars in Canis Major (the big dog) is Sirius, which also happens to be the brightest star in the night sky. In fact, it is so bright that the ancient Romans thought that the earth received heat from it. Look for it in the southern sky (viewed from northern latitudes) during January. In the summer, however, Sirius, the “dog star,” rises and sets with the sun. During late July Sirius is in conjunction with the sun, and the ancients believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, “dog days” after the dog star.
What are your plans for the weekend and perhaps the last dog days of summer?