The Dog Days of Summer

Okay, we agree, it is hot out. Even temperatures at the KEEN HQ here in Portland have stayed in the 80s all week (which is quite warm for our mild Pacific NW climate)! But the heat wave is hardly surprising. We’re in the midst of the “dog days” of summer, the hottest, most sultry, scorching days of the whole year. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the oldest continuously running periodical in North America, the dog days begin on July 3rd and continue until August 11th.


Interestingly, the origin of the name “dog days”, or dies caniculares in Latin, dates back to ancient Rome. In the Northern hemisphere during the months of July and August, the star Sirius rose and set with the sun. Romans believed this star, known as the Dog Star because it was the brightest out of the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog), caused the unbearable heat because of its proximity to the sun. Although we now know that the earth’s tilted axis causes the sizzling summer temperatures, the reference to “dog days” has stuck.

According to legend, dog days not only signify a distinct rise in temperature, but they also induce a certain kind of madness. Superstitious folk believed that the sea boiled, the wine turned sour, and of course, dogs went mad! The hot spell was also believed to cause outbreaks of disease and burning fevers, along with fits of hysterics and phrensies.

Fortunately, we’ve yet to see a case of the dog days around the KEEN office, but keep your eyes out for co-workers who might be a little burnt out from all this heat. Be sure to remind them that the dog days will soon be over. And in the meantime? Recess break!

[Image Credit: Jack Fusco via National Geographic]