Welcome to the Dog Days of Summer
Those dog days of summer actually get their name from the star, not the heat. Which is good, considering that someday, now that this heat is an annual event for lovers of the swelter, we otherwise might have to rename them the Dog Dome of Summer.
But our dog days of summer refers to Sirius, the brightest star in our night sky, and part of the constellation Canis Major or Greater Dog. In summer, Sirius, the dog star, rises with our sun. And because Sirius shines so brightly, the Romans thought its heat reinforced the sun’s heat, a kind of doubling down, creating a hot mess.
In truth, Sirius has nothing to do with why this is our hottest period, but everything to do with why we still have that great expression, the dog days of summer.
Which makes this a great time to remind ourselves to chat about things we can all do to make the dog days better for, well, the dogs! And the cats. And other animals, including the human kind, who may find the swelter a bit overwhelming.
I recently read one of this summer’s great stories, from Muncie, Indiana. The Muncie Police Department put together a program which allows people who have parking tickets to pay their tickets with cat food, litter, and other supplies to help the more than 350 cats in the Muncie Animal Care and Services shelter.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could do the same? Not for all tickets. We know those fines go to the city budget, but maybe for some specific type of ticket or violation.
Something which might help our four-legged friends survive the onslaught of heat.
Another way we humans can beat the dog days of summer, is to go to the movies. On August 9, the day this issue comes out, The Art of Racing in the Rain will be released.
This comedy-drama is based on the 2008 novel by Garth Stein and it’s directed by Simon Curtis, written by Mark Bomback, and stars Milo Ventimiglia and Amanda Seyfried. And, for those dying to know, Kevin Costner is the voice of Enzo.
Now, my human pals, you’ve had 11 years to read this novel, but if you haven’t, then head to Browseabout early, ahead of the heat, and snag a copy before you see the movie. This way, afterwards, you and your four-legged pal can sit in your air conditioning debating which was better, the movie or the book!
And if you are home, avoiding the heat and feeling trapped, bored, remember you are not alone. People all over the internet are teaching their dogs how to play Jenga and how to do yoga, and all sorts of nifty things. Go ahead, boot up your computer, find the Australian shepherd, Secret, and show your pet all those videos. You’ll have an amazing time—and your pet might somehow learn a trick or two.
And oh yeah, if you pet your pet, studies show you will also lower your blood pressure. Awesome health bonus there!
Other than those small tips for staying cool with your pet, let’s remember, there’s a lot of pet rescues in our area. Maybe the best way to beat the heat, is to leave your pet home in a cool, quiet place and give a volunteer hour or two at a shelter. Maybe the truest way to honor Sirius is to celebrate the dog days of summer by helping a dog.
After all, “Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.” – Dean Koontz ▼
Stefani Deoul is a television producer and author of the award-winning YA mystery series Sid Rubin Silicon Alley Adventures, with On a LARP and Zero Sum Game.