EndNotes

What are the “Dog Days”?

Charles Cowan, far left, stands next to his wife, Iowa King Cowan, and unidentified friends at Liberty Lake on a Sunday in July 1919.
Charles Cowan, far left, stands next to his wife, Iowa King Cowan, and unidentified friends at Liberty Lake on a Sunday in July 1919.

I love the phrase “Dog Days of summer,” often interpreted as the days when it is so hot, the dogs just laze around. But the real answer is in the sky.

When the brightest star Sirius appeared in the constellation Canis Major (large dog), summer was at its peak.  The period was defined as 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the Dog Star) and the sun. The Farmer’s Almanac identifies July 3 through August 11 as Dog Days.

In ancient times, the Romans sacrificed a red dog in April to satisfy the rage of Sirius, believing the star caused the hot, steamy weather.

Thanks to meteorologists, we are enlightened, we let red dogs live – and take sunscreen to the beach instead. Happy Dog Days!

(S-R archive photo: Charles Cowan, far left, stands next to his wife, Iowa King Cowan, and unidentified friends at Liberty Lake on a Sunday in July 1919.)




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Spokesman-Review features writer Rebecca Nappi, along with writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., discuss here issues facing aging boomers, seniors and those experiencing serious illness, dying, death and other forms of loss.






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