“These are really called Dog Days?” Fido said.
“They are, but it’s not what you think,” I replied.
“I’m a dog! I don’t think. I guard, I feel, I bark, I sleep, I eat. But I do not think. I am a life-support system for biscuits and my water bowl. Everything after that is gravy.”
“Once again, you Big Red Lug, you are mixing your metaphors something awful, but that’s perfectly OK during the Dog Days of August.”
“Hey hey hey hey!” Fido yelped. “What will we do to celebrate?”
“As far as I can tell, we’re already celebrating, Fido. There was Festival of Biscuits and Dogapalooza last weekend. This weekend is the Margarita thingy up at the Village, and there are lots of walks and runs. Lots of visiting dogs, too. I see you made a lot of new friends. And the Dog Days happen pretty much all month.”
“I want to know about these Dog Days!”
“The first thing,” I said, “is that the Dog Days aren’t exactly on the ground. If you take it literally, every day is a dog day in Mammoth. Dogs outnumber people by about two-to-one. Look around, man. Is there a car or truck that doesn’t have a dog alongside its human? Mind you, I’m not complaining.”
Fido sat on his haunches, looking at me with his big browns. He was ready for a story.
“OK, Fido, here it goes: The Dog Days have to do with the great celestial dog, Sirius. It’s the brightest star there is.”
“Are you serious?” Fido said, and slapped his knee at his own joke. “Hey hey hey hey!”
“Anyway, lots of people—and their dogs—thought the Dog Star was rising, but it was there all the time. It’s called a heliacal rising, if you really want to know. It doesn’t really rise, though.”
“Say WHAT?” Fido said.
“Most of the time Sirius is so close to the sun that the sun blots out the light of the star and the star seems to disappear from the sky. The Dog Days begin when the sun and Sirius are once more far enough apart that—for the first time in months—Sirius may be once again seen in the pre-dawn skies. That happens in August.”
“I like my version of the Dog Days better,” Fido said. “A biscuit whenever I want one, a full water bowl, lazing about on the beach chair, sipping dog margaritas at the Village, and making even more new friends with the visiting hounds. Nothing beats a SoCal hound, is what I say. Especially the girls.”
“Gosh, Fido, that sounds terrific. The last bit in particular. But that still sounds to me like a Dog Day is every day for you.”
“Exactly!” he said. “And now, may I be so bold as to ask for a treat?”
I put my arms out and gave him a big hug around his neck. I reached into my pocket and gave him a small biscuit. “Happy Dog Days, Fido,” I said.
“This,” he said, “is living.”