Wordy Wednesday ~ Dog Days of Summer


It may be “Wordless Wednesday” around Blogville, but here at the Ranch where we tend to do things against the grain, we’re pitching a “Did You Know” post that’s anything but wordless. What are we yammering about today?  We’re talking about the Dog Days of Summer.

What are the Dog Days of Summer? In the Northern Hemisphere, the Dog Days of Summer coincide with the rising of the Dog Star, Sirius, at the same time as hot and sultry weather does this time of year. So let’s take a look at some of the historical background surrounding this annual phenomena.

Traditionally the term “Dog Days” refers to the period of particularly hot and humid weather occurring during the summer months of July and August in the Northern  Hemisphere from July 3 through August 11.

In ancient Greece and Roman times, the Dog Days were thought be a time of drought, bad luck, and unrest, when dogs and men alike would be driven mad by the extreme heat. Today however, we recognize it as the time of the year when temperatures and humidity peak.

So why are they called the “Dog Days” of Summer? This period of sweltering weather coincides with the rising of Sirius, the Dog Star. You may recall that the constellation Canis Majoris—known as the “Greater Dog” (aka Alpha Canis Majoris) and that apart from our Sun, Sirius is the brightest star in the sky.

Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans believed the early morning rising of Sirius in mid-to-late summer actually contributed to the extreme weather of the season. In other words, the “combined heat” of super-bright Sirius with the sun was thought to be the cause of sweltering summertime temperatures. Did you know the name “Sirius” comes from the Ancient Greek-seírios, and means “scorching?”

Ancient Egyptians believed the star was a “watchdog” for the coinciding fact of the Nile’s flooding season.

We now know Sirius’ appearance does not actually affect  weather during this time period, but its appearance during the hottest part of summer ensures that the lore surrounding this star continues to live on.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, “old-timers believed that rainfall on the Dog Days was a bad omen, as foretold in this verse:”

Dog Days bright and clear
Indicate a happy year;
But when accompanied by rain,
For better times, our hopes are vain.

The organization made this further comment in the early 1800’s:

“Dog Days are approaching; you must, therefore, make both hay and haste while the Sun shines, for when old Sirius takes command of the weather, he is such an unsteady, crazy dog, there is no dependence upon him.”

Both Elsa and Norman take great exception to the “unsteady, crazy” reference.

Whether you believe in ancient folklore or follow science, no one can deny this is definitely the hottest part of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

An interesting 2009 Finnish study tested the hypothesis that rates of infections are higher during the Dog Days. The authors concluded, “This study was conducted in order to challenge the myth that the rate of infections is higher during the dog days. To our surprise, the myth was found to be true.” Go figure, Norman and I thought pet therapy helped peeps feel better.

Canis Major

Speaking of Norman, he knows exactly how to cope with the Dog Days of Summer and advises everyone to stay well hydrated. As you look up in the early morning skies at Sirius, just remember there are ‘only’ 71 days until the official arrival of autumn.

I think I’m melting

Live, love, bark! 🐾

51 thoughts on “Wordy Wednesday ~ Dog Days of Summer

  1. How interesting! I grew up in PA when no one there had A/C. On 90 degree days with nights almost as hot, we opened the windows and turned on the fan and did a lot of laying around. Just like Norman. Hmmm. Love to both your wonderful, big, pups. Remember, only 77 days til fall, LOL!

    1. 69 actually, which is easier to stomach. 😊 It would be so bad if there was rain but it’s been bone dry. Rain everywhere else but dry here. Sigh.

  2. 70 days now . . .

    Norman has the right idea as to how you take on the dog days. And now that I know the origin of this saying, I can have pun with it by asking “Are you Sirius?”

  3. So that iss why these dayss are called “DOG DAYSS” of Summer…..mee allwayss wundered Sweet Norman an Elsa!
    Funny there are NO “Kitty Dayss” of Autumm…..say that DOES have a nice ring to it rite?
    **nose bopss** BellaDharma an ((hugss)) BellaSita Mum

    1. The black ones in the upper left corner are Elsa’s. The ginormous white ones are Norman’s. 💙

  4. Thank you. We learned a lot about the Dog Days of Summer. Can we please put in a request for them to move on and give us some cooler days? We are sick of the heat AND humidity!!!
    Woos – Lightning, Misty, and Timber

    1. No kidding. I had requested they be cancelled this year. We’re soooo over summer.

  5. The Dog Days were early this year, but a smidge of a break from the heat this week… cool enough this morning for a park trip that will keep my Saturday Hooligan posts, that I know Norman and Elsa look forward to, occupied for a while!

    1. Yes, they’re always excited about a fresh menu, er I mean, new pics of scampering squirrels. 😈

  6. I love when I learn new stuff. It’s one of those expressions we use, knowing sorta what it means (hot and sticky) but not the why! Thank you for this, Monika!

    1. Our pleasure. I thought the history aspect was quite fascinating. All I really ever knew about the Dog Days was they were miserably hot. 70 and counting. 😉

  7. Great scientific post!
    I love seeing Orion and his dog!
    We sure had some dog days here earlier, starting already in June…but right now our days are not too hot or humid…but, well, they aren’t over til they’re over! Hurry up Fall, we can’t wait!!

    1. This has been an exceptionally miserable summer everywhere. Just heard about a very severe heat advisory scheduled to hit Wales and Great Britain this weekend. Ugh.

    1. The night time skies are certainly fascinating and humans allow vivid imaginations to run freely with all sorts of strange ideas. Stay cool.

    1. Argh…that’s way to hot for me, especially since I know the humidity makes it even more objectionable. Stay cool if you can and drink loads of water.

        1. It may well be but you’d never catch me drinking it. It’s pretty much tasteless IMHO.

  8. I learned so much here today. I’ve heard the term many times, but didn’t know its origin.

    Norman knows what to do with the hot weather. He’s so smart.

    Have a fabulous Wordy Wednesday, scritches to the pups, a smooch to Norman and a hug to your mom. ♥

    1. He’s either in front of that fan or directly below the ceiling vent from the AC these days. He and I are simpatico on this dreadful heat dome. Stay cool. Hugs and tail wags.

  9. Lulu: “Every day is dog day if you ask me!”
    Charlee: “We didn’t.”
    Chaplin: “But we heard from Florence + The Machine that the dog days were over.”
    Java Bean: “Going loco por el calor sounds like what we do around here during Santa Ana winds …”

    1. I remember those Santa Ana winds back in the day when I lived in San Diego. It was like walking into a pizza oven. Argh.

  10. Interesting post, learned something new today! The ‘rate of infection rise’ made me think of the you-know-what numbers that seem to be on the rise lately. 🙁

    1. Funny you mentioned that, I too wondered about that correlation with the rise in numbers here. Funny how people have simply returned to pre-panDAMNic behavior regardless of the facts. Guess there’s just no short season where stupid isn’t in plain view. 😬

  11. Norman is definitely in great position to address the time of year it is. I am also sure both Elsa and Norman think every day is “Dog Day!” Seventy-one days until Autumn. I’ll take it! Happy Wednesday to the Ranch!

    1. Yeah, 70 days but who’s counting? We are that’s who!! Try to stay cool; we’ll do the same.

    1. I know, right? But I really don’t blame him. It’s brutally hot but at least we don’t have the humidity to go with high temps.

  12. I always knew there was a explanation for Day Days of Summer, just didn’t know what it was, so thanks for sharing this interesting bit of historical information. My reference to Dog Days of Summer has always been to baseball’s long season. The month of July and August are referred this way for this sport’s hot stretch during a 6 month season. Alas, the Dog Days are not going well for my SF Giants. Hope they can get back in the hunt or it will be a long September…

    1. Baseball around these parts has become a running joke so I get it. Luckily the Stanley Cup championship will get be through both baseball and football seasons. 😉 Stay cool, Mike and give the girls an extra belly rub from me.

  13. Good Morning! Enjoyed reading about Sirius and the lore about the “dog days of summer”! It took my mind off my current situation for a few minutes, so thank you.

    1. Our pleasure. Here’s hoping the break will fuel the rest of your day. Hugs and tail wags; thinking of you and sending ‘pawsitive’ thoughts your way.

Feel free to bark your thoughts...but no growling please.

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