Dog Days of summer – and other canine colloquialisms

BARRY’S BAY – Summer time… and the living is easy. The ‘dog days of summer’ are here. But are the ‘dog days’ myth or fact?

Dogs have been part of the fabric of man’s existence for thousands of years. The relationship has given rise to many euphemisms that have become part of the English language.

Local veterinarian, Dr. Ann Burchat, stated that the saying, “dog days of summer” has no scientific basis. “It could be more of a cultural expression,” remarked Burchat, “Probably based on the time of year that is hot, and animals are not very active.”

Dogs inherently seem to understand this phrase. Watch a dog drag himself from a very hot, sunny spot into a shady respite in summer!

With respect to ‘madness,’ Burchat went on, “It really has no direct connection with infections such as rabies, other than animals hunt in packs and can spread the disease through saliva.”

The actual saying may have a connection to Roman times. ‘Dog days’ refers to a time of the year when days are hot and humid, and summer’s peak temperatures are reached.

In ancient Roman and Greek times, dog days were a time of drought, bad luck, and unrest, where dogs and men were thought to be driven insane by intense, unrelenting heat. According to Homer’s Iliad, the hottest summer months brought ‘fire and fever’ to the ancient world.

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