The ‘Dog Days’ of summer are not for dogs, or humans, especially when it’s hot outside

Published 3:46 pm Tuesday, July 5, 2022

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The “Dog Days” of summer are from July 3 to August 11 each year. They’re usually the hottest and most unbearable days of the season. We often hear about the “Dog Days” of summer, but few know where the expression originated. Some think it’s a reference to the hot, sultry days that are “not fit for a dog.” Others suggest it’s the time of year when the extreme heat drives dogs mad. But where does the term come from? And what does it have to do with dogs? You may be surprised to see it has to do with the stars!
These punishingly hot summer days get their name from an ancient belief about the brightest star in the sky — not from dogs’ tendency to laze around in the heat.
The days known as the “Dog Days” of summer and throughout Appalachia, were closely followed by Granny Women and farmers alike.
Contrary to what many may believe, the term “Dog Days” has nothing to do with actual dogs and everything to do with the star Sirius, the brightest star in the night’s sky, known colloquially as the “Dog Star,” reiterating its unchallenged title as “the big dog” of the stars in our sky.
Ancient peoples often noticed that Sirius, the Dog Star, would briefly become visible above the eastern horizon at dawn just before sunrise in late July and would continue this brief early-morning rising for roughly a month.
These days became known as “The Dog Days” and were associated with bad luck, violent storms, excessive heat, drought, lethargy and madness in animals and humans.
There’s a lot of old sayings and beliefs associated with the “Dog Days” of summer, but we need to be careful of leaving pets and children unattended in hot cars. Don’t do it, not even with the windows down and water in the car, or when parking in the shade.
We need to look out for each other in general in hot, humid weather like what we are experiencing this week. Check on older family members or neighbors especially and just keep an eye out for kids or folks who might not recognize the effect the heat can have on them.
For some reason some folks seem to forget their pets can overheat in a hurry and that being left in a car for even a short period of time can be deadly.
We may even enjoy the dog days, but they’re not for dogs, so be careful.

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