Some people say it’s too hot this time of year, especially for dogs—that’s obvious when you see dogs outside lying under the porch with their tongues hanging out! In Northern Virginia, the “Dog Days of Summer” occur during the hottest and muggiest days of the season, usually from early July through September. It is possible this saying came about because the dog star Sirius rises with the sun during this time of year, but whatever the reason for the “Dog Days,” this is just one example of how the English language is full of phrases based on animals.
Here’s a fun look at the origins of a few more…
Like a chicken with its head cut off: In our busy culture we sometimes act in a frenzied way. When a chicken is slaughtered, it will sometimes run around crazily even after its head is chopped off!
Take the bull by the horns: If you are feeling overwhelmed by a problem, mimic a steer-wrestler at a rodeo and take control of the situation by facing the dilemma head on and handling it with strength and skill.
Smell a rat: When a dog smells a rat, he will whimper, whine, and/or scratch the walls. If you suspect something is wrong, but have no obvious reasons, you might “smell a rat” just like your dog.
Going like lambs to the slaughter: As long as they are together, lambs are apparently oblivious to upcoming trauma…
Get your goat: Goats are often used as a calming influence in barns or stables, especially with race horses today. If someone steals the goat, it would theoretically upset the animals.
A frog in your throat: Stories used to be told about people drinking from streams or ponds and swallowing eggs which would then hatch in the throat and cause raspy speech!
These sayings are all in good fun, but how do you survive the “Dogs Days of Summer” in Northern Virginia? Outdoor play becomes a problem when the days get too hot, so take your pet for a walk in the early or late hours of the day. If that doesn’t work for you, ask your favorite pet sitter to help out! Also, be sure to know the symptoms of overheating such as: excessive panting, drooling, sluggishness, and unresponsiveness. If your dog shows any of these signs, you need to take him inside and cool him down. If you use a pet sitting service, many pet sitters are certified in Pet First Aid & CPR and should recognize the signs of overheating right away.
Furthermore, staying cool can actually be fun for you and your dog. Does your dog like to go swimming? If so, why not try a “puppy pool” or even a swim in a lake. In Northern Virginia, there are some beautiful lakes and dog parks that your dog would love—just be sure your dog knows the “come” command as some of these lakes are large.
Additionally, don’t forget the sunscreen! Dogs can get sunburn just like people, so keep their fur and hair a little longer in the summer months and use a specific sunscreen formulated for dogs (be sure your pet sitter knows how to apply it too).
Have a great summer and safely enjoy the “Dog Days of Summer!”