WHERE THE HEART IS - "What is all this talk about dog days?"


By Alice Hickman


OK, here I go again. Old inquiring philosopher me.

Sister, Mom and I were chatting last evening about when dog days began. Auntie had told us that Lynn Church had once told how one could tell when dog days started, but she could not remember what he had said. So my question was, "what is dog days" and what has it got to do with kids "not" playing in the creeks and streams?

Now it makes sense to me that when weather becomes hot and dry with stagnant water standing in the otherwise dry creek bed, to avoid playing in it especially with an open or unhealed wound. However, what in the world does that have to do with a dog?

Not being one to cater to fables and the such, I want a scientific answer. So off I go to my favorite source of information after the Bible and the Webster's dictionary. I click on "Google".

So for curious minds like mine, here goes.

Dog days occur in the hottest and muggiest part of the summer, a period of stagnation and inactivity. In ancient times, the sky was not obscured by artificial lights and smog. Different groups of people in different parts of the world saw different images in the sky by connecting stars (dots). These star pictures are now called constellations. Images they saw included dogs (Canis major and Canis minor). The brightest star in Canis major is Sirius (the big dog). In the summer this star rises and sets with the sun.

Ancients believed that the earth received added heat from this star when it is in conjunction with the sun in late July. The name dog days was given to the period of 20 days before and 20 days after the conjunction. Thus came the dog days of summer. A forty day period. Today this falls from July 3 to August 11.

Although this period is the hottest part of summer, it is not the result of a far away star, even though it is the brightest. It is because of the tilt of the earth.

The ancient Egyptians named the brightest star Sirius after their mythical god Osiris, whose head in pictograms resembled that of a dog.

As time passes this star will move out of the summer season completely.

There goes the myth about dog days. So even though I'm sure this saying will continue for a long time, the hottest days of summer have nothing to do with a dog or some false god from ancient Egypt.

My mind feels satisfied now and what my husband refers to as common sense has kicked in. Keep the "kids" out of those dry stagnant water holes. Common sense says, "mosquitoes and bacteria - Stay Away". Then if that doesn't work, add a little prayer for divine protection from our Great Protector and a little hydrogen peroxide as needed.

Forget the dog and that image. Dogs are for petting and fetching.

Now as to what all this has to do with where the heart is, I have no clue. However, I do feel better now! "Smile".

From my heart to yours.

Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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