The Dog Days of Summer

Gotta say, the dog days of summer certainly lived up to their reputation this July and August, scalding most of the nation with ninety-plus degree temps and crazy high humidity. By all calculations, purchases of fans, air conditioners and pools were selling faster than hotcakes (which isn't saying much, I know, 'cause, like whose buying anything hot during a heat wave?) And just how hot was it exactly? Quoting the late great Johnny Carson, "It was so hot I saw a tree thank a dog" or "It was so hot the Statue of Liberty was asked to put her arm down" or how 'bout "It was so hot I saw a bird pull a worm out of the ground with an oven mitt". That last one's kinda sketchy, I mean where does a bird find an oven mitt to fit its tiny little claws? Just sayin'.

So, if you're like me you probably think the phrase "Dog Days of Summer" was initially coined in reference to the hot, sultry days that are not fit for a dog or as a moniker for the season where heat is so intense it drives dogs mad. Or more literally, because dogs have limited sweat glands, their mechanism for temperature control being their very visible panting, which is noticeably on display during said days. Fact is, the term comes from Sirius, the "dog star", which the ancient Eqyptians noticed would rise at dawn along with the sun from July 3rd until August 11th. This happened to coincide with the typical flooding of the Nile at that time of year, a significant event as they greatly depended on this for their agriculture; so for them the dog days were a good thing. Later on the Romans invented the phrase "dies caniculares" or "days of the dog star" to describe the sweltering hot days where you just didn't want to move (crazy how attitudes change when you don't have a humongous, flooding river to help you get your farming on).

Anyway, with all this talk of dogs rattling around in my brain I couldn't help realizing just how prevalent man's best friend is when it comes to our daily use of language. After all, it's a dog-eat-dog world out there with the vast majority of us workin' like a dog just to make ends meet. And some days?... well, they can be so tough you wouldn't wish them on a dog. But you can't give up 'cause even though it can be a dog's life at times, we have to be dogged in our attempts to carry on and realize that when dealing with others sometimes it's best to let sleeping dogs lie. 'Cause let's face it, some people get stubborn as they get older and you know you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Hell, that'd just be barking up the wrong tree.

But cheer up, I'm not all about doom and gloom (sorry, sometimes my bark is worse than my bite). Let's not forget about those lazy dog day afternoons on the golf course where that hopeless slice of yours somehow miraculously coincides with that par four dogleg right. And even if the weather turns and it's suddenly coming down like cats and dogs just remember every golfer's mantra: "It never rains on the golf course." Also, if you opted for exercise by not taking a cart, yeah, your dogs will be barkin' at the end of the back nine but there are chairs on the nineteenth hole which, along with a beer and a hot dog will bring a smile to your face. Just don't imbibe too much or you'll be chasing the hair of the dog come tomorrow morn.

Indeed, the good news is summer will soon give way to autumn and the heat wave will finally subside (ahh, every dog has its day) but be careful what you wish for, Dawg, for that can only mean one thing: winter will be on the horizon. And as we all know winter can get cold... "three dog night" cold. Yes, that was the name of a popular band in the seventies but, doggone it, in this case I'm referring to the old Aussie phrase in reference to it being so cold they needed to bring three dogs to bed to provide enough additional warmth. So there it is, when it comes to the the full spectrum of both temperature variations and everyday life you can bet a dog will be in the mix. And to end with a little symmetry: Just how cold was it? To coin Johnny again, "It was so cold I saw lawyers with their hands in their own pockets," or "It was so cold I saw a flasher describe himself to someone" and "It was so cold the Statue of Liberty was wearing a parka." Yeah, I'm gonna call foul there, I mean, where are they gonna find a parka that big. Just sayin'.