Since the phrase “The Dog Days of Summer” refers, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, to the hottest months of the year, namely July and August, we are definitely there. Here in Houston, after a rather mild, at least for us, spring, we hit the highest temperature ever recorded in June, and the second hottest on record, when the thermometer hit 107 a little over a week ago. And that was out north at Bush Intercontinental Airport; down here on the ground, I had a reading of 127-degrees on my car thermometer after it roasted on the cement in front of the studio. Now, I know it pales in comparison to places like Death Valley, and even Las Vegas, but it’s still damn hot.
So it seems an appropriate time to resurrect the phrase, connect a personal image to it, and give you the story behind its creation.
A quick trip to reference materials reveals that the aforementioned phrase originated with the Romans, who associated the appearance of the “dog star” Sirius in the summer sky with the period of hottest weather, as it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, or Large Dog.
But my story begins in February, 2 years ago, when my better half, Sharon, lost her father after a prolonged illness. Her mother had cared for him throughout the period, and she took some time to decompress once her husband was gone.
Sharon noted that her mother had always been thrifty, watching the family budget judiciously, and she had never known her to spend a reckless penny. So it came as quite a shock to her to have her mother tell her about the recent trip to the pet store for her beloved Boston Terrier, Buddy. What started out as a practical visit for food and the like, took an unexpected twist when she eyed some goggles made for canines called “Doggles.”
She could not resist the impulse and brought them home, probably without thinking exactly how and when they would be used. But when Sharon’s brother heard about the purchase, he decided that Buddy and HIS Boston Terrier, Lucille (did I mention that Sharon also has a Boston?) would look great in a child’s pool, Buddy with his Doggles, and Lucille as a water companion.
On his next trip to his mother’s home in Nederland (part of “The Golden Triangle” area of SE Texas, about 85 miles east of Houston, an area which gave us, among other notables, Janis Joplin, Johnny and Edgar Winter, and Robert Rauschenberg) he stopped and bought said pool, and they eagerly awaited the splashing and frolicking about in it of the two dogs.
Buddy and Lucille, however, were less than thrilled, evidently equating the wet immersion with bath time, as they just stood there with a “What do you want us to do NOW?” look on their faces.
When we heard the story, I told Sharon that we had to do a photo of this, so on her mother’s next trip to Houston she brought Buddy, the pool, and the Doggles, and left them with us to do what we could do.
We put the pool in the front yard, filled it with a decent level of water, and I set up the camera and a few strobes. We put Lucille and Buddy in the pool to test the waters, so to speak, and of course they did the same thing as before;
But we were determined, so out came the Doggles, the camera angle went low, and after about 20 minutes, I felt like we had our photo:
For the technically minded among you; Yes, I dropped Buddy and the pool out, replacing the wooden fence behind him with a stock blue sky I have in my files, creating a copywriter’s dream; lots of room for copy!
So there is our not-so-shaggy dog story, along with my best wishes for the rest of the summer.