The Dog Days of Summer

The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.  

Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

It’s summer. And it’s hot. And I can’t seem to find my writing groove. Where did the term dog days of summer come from? I poked around the internet and found this:

Many people believe the phrase “dog days of summer” stems from the fact that dogs tend to be a bit on the lazy side during the hottest days of summer. Of course, who can blame them? With that much fur, dogs that exercise during the hot days of summer can overheat easily. 

However, the phrase doesn’t stem from lazy dogs lying around on hot and humid days. Instead, to find the answer, we only need to look to the summer sky. 

The ancient Romans called the hottest, most humid days of summer “diēs caniculārēs” or “dog days.” The name came about because they associated the hottest days of summer with the star Sirius. Sirius was known as the “Dog Star” because it was the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog). Sirius also happens to be the brightest star in the night sky. 

Sirius is so bright that the ancient Romans thought it radiated extra heat toward Earth. During the summer, when Sirius rises and sets with the Sun, they thought Sirius added heat to the Sun’s heat to cause hotter summer temperatures.

But here on Main Street, we like to write about a different sort of heat–the warmth of a kiss, the flush of falling in love. But we also like dogs, and many of our books include our furry friends.

If you’re a writer and you have a book with a furry friend (it doesn’t have to be a dog) leave us a buy-link in the comments. If you want to include a 300 word or less excerpt where your furry friend plays a staring role, that would be great, too.

Here’s an excerpt from my yet-to-be-published, The Billionaire’s Beagle.

thumbnail_The billionare

“What do you know about beagles?” Grandfather steepled his fingers and gazed at Wes.

Wes’s thoughts scrambled. “They sniff out drugs at airports?”

“Yes. They have a powerful sense of smell.”

If that were true, Wes wondered how Betty, a fart factory, could stand being around herself.

“But there is so much more to them. Did you know beagles can be traced back to Ancient Greece? And it’s thought that in the 11th century, William the Conqueror brought the Talbot hound to Britain. The Talbot is the ancestor of the modern-day beagle which can run prey to ground. They’re hunting dogs, meant to roam free and wild.” Grandfather cocked his head. “Men are not meant to run free and wild. The animal-man is an enemy to God.”

What did that even mean? Was he referring to the work of Zoologist Desmond Morris who argued man was not a fallen angel, but a risen ape?

Grandfather must have read his mind because he answered the unspoken question. “My greatest wish is to see you settle down and shoulder responsibility. Get a wife! Father children! Teach them to love and serve God.”

Huh. Wes guessed that his grandfather hadn’t read Morris’s The Naked Ape. Which was disappointing since he would have liked to talk about it with him.

“But since I can’t force you to marry,” Grandfather continued, “I’m giving you my dog.” He wagged his finger in front of Wes’s face. “You two need each other.”

“I’m sure Betty would disagree.”

“She doesn’t have a choice!” Grandfather barked. “And neither do you! I’m going to Hacienda Hot Springs. It’s a healing and recovery center. My doctors think it best. Betty can’t come. They don’t allow pets.” His tone of voice told Wes that his grandfather had tried to persuade the hospital otherwise. “This, of course, is a short-term arrangement.”

“I hope so,” Wes breathed out. “For Betty’s sake,” he tacked on. “I’m sure she’ll miss you.”

“I don’t need to tell you that if anything should happen to Betty while she’s in your care, you will be immediately disinherited.”

If you’d like to be an early for The Billionaire’s Beagle, email me at kristyswords@yahoo.com and put beta-reader in the subject line.

 

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13 Responses to The Dog Days of Summer

  1. mlknowlden says:

    Excerpt from Jack Fell Down: Deluded Detective Book One

    I slid down the embankment to the creek, the tiger scar on my leg complaining, and I picked my way through the boulders to the boy.
    A dog splashed between us, one of those creatures of little brain but an all-encompassing love of anything human. Grinning at me, its long hair dripping water, the dog crouched slightly, inviting me to play.
    “Go away, doggy.” I flapped my hands nervously.
    “He don’t bite,” the boy said. “Dad says he’s a terrible guard dog but a first rate fetcher of anything you don’t want.”
    The boy didn’t seem brainwashed with stranger-danger fears, his expressive face as friendly and inviting as the dog’s. I stared warily at the dog. Fetcher of what? Shoes, fleas, rabies? The boy fished a pebble from the creek and tossed it upstream.
    “Get it, Flash.” The dog leapt after it.
    “Good name for a dog.” I remembered the dog collar in the backpack. “My name is Pam. What’s yours?”
    “Colin,” he said and offered me a damp hand. Bingo.
    I nodded to the bench across the parkway. “That your Dad?”
    As if I’d asked too many questions, which I supposed I had, he shouted for Flash. The dog dropped a pebble at my feet, and his tail wagged wildly.

    Thank you for letting me share!
    Michelle Knowlden

    Liked by 1 person

  2. liwenho says:

    My rom-com features some furry matchmakers! https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MRT775K/

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Lauren Lynch says:

    Historical fantasy set in Pompeii, The Veil of Smoke features a snarky dog (and will be on sale 8/15-8/22) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ROB8Y88 (It can stand alone, but book one in the series, A Place of Voices, also features animal companions and is only 99¢ https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LCN212O)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My novella features two matchmaking dogs!

    After a year of recovery, wounded war veteran Jonah Harrison comes home for Christmas. No longer the outgoing high school track star, he just wants to be left alone, away from well-meaning friends and neighbors. But when a blizzard strands him with Kami Jackson—the girl who once knew him best—he can’t hide anything from her, no matter how much he wants to. Kami has a wounded heart of her own, though, and it might take a miracle—or at least two matchmaking dogs—for them to find the healing they both long for and the courage to reach for a chance at love.

    https://amzn.to/2nBtLt2

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jude Knight says:

    My novella for the Bluestocking Belles’ Valentine box set has an Italian Mountain Shepherd dog. No buy link — it is not yet completed and doesn’t go to first beta until 1 October, but here’s an excerpt. The year is 1814, and my heroine has escaped her chattering sisters and her matchmaking mother to spend some quiet time with a book.

    The bench outside the long-forgotten folly was wet, but Charis had expected that. She took her book from her bag, and spread the bag on the bench to protect her skirts. She never saw anyone here, not since her friend Eric left, ten years or more ago. But someone must know she came, because the area around the bench was always kept weeded and the folly itself was cleaned from time to time, so it lacked the dust and cobwebs to be expected in such a neglected spot.

    She was settling herself to read, when a large shaggy dog bounded out of the woods, his tongue lolling cheerfully from one corner of his grinning mouth. His tail waved enthusiastically and she braced for whatever he intended, but he stopped a pace or two away and sat, stirring the wet grass and weeds with his tongue, lifting one paw as if hoping she would shake it.

    “What a beautiful gentleman you are,” Charis said to him.

    The dog tipped his head to one side, his tail speeding up.

    “Shake?” Charis said. Is that what he wanted?

    Apparently so. He shuffled forward, not raising his hind end completely from the ground, but approaching another few inches, lifting his paw again, this time within reach if she just bent forward.

    And so she did.

    The dog grinned still more broadly, and half lifted again so his tail could wag at full speed.

    “Yes, you are a friendly boy,” Charis agreed. “And someone has taught you beautiful manners.” She looked around, wondering if the dog’s owner was near, but no one was in sight.

    The dog collapsed at her feet, leaning his head against her knee, and she obliged by rubbing behind his ear, and then down to his chin. He closed his eyes in ecstasy, and tipped his head even higher.

    “That’s what you like, is it not?” Charis asked him, and continued to caress the dog as she opened her book. Her own place, her book, and a friendly dog to pat. She could feel the tension draining as she settled to enjoy her brief period of freedom.

    Like

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