This Month From Cliff-August 28, 2014
August 28, 2014
Cliff L. Wood
The Dog Days of August
The phrase “dog days” refers to the sultry days of summer and in the Northern Hemisphere the “dog days” are generally in the months of July and August. I grew up in Texas and in the summer it was hot…really hot. I knew the phrase “dog days” early and thought it was created by the same folks who brought us the Alamo and the Texas Two Step. It is a phrase, however, that goes back to the Roman Empire. The Romans called the dog days “Dies Caniculares.” They associated the hot weather with the star Sirius which is commonly called the “Dog Star” because it is in the constellation Canis Major (large dog). Sirius is also the brightest star in the night sky. Who knew?
Me, with Mickey and Minnie
This summer, I spent some of my “dog days” at the Chesapeake with the family of our beloved Great Dane Sarge who died this past year. Here I am celebrating “dog days” with Sarge’s siblings Mickey (Mantle, a perfect harlequin) and Minnie (Me, who looks just like her mother, a perfect show dog).
The Dogs of Our Lives
I have always been a “dog person,” as is my wife, Wylene; this trait is one of our bonds as soul mates. When I was five, after begging my parents, I got a five-year-old blonde cocker spaniel named Blondie, named after the comic strip. Blondie slept at the foot of my bed and died a very old lady at 16, a week before I left for college.
After I received my doctorate and became the Dean of Students at Houston Community College, we bought a registered Scottie whose AKC name was “Sugar Candy.” Although she had a pedigree, I always said she was a pig in dog’s clothing, as she would eat anything that hit the floor and spent her days in a hole she dug in the garden. She had the good life, however, and lived to be 16.
Wylene brought a beautiful fawn Great Dane named Cara, a very well behaved animal who actually did dog Wylene every step she took. Cara was then joined by a half lab/half shepherd mutt who was left as a puppy on the road we lived on in New Jersey. Our youngest two children, Caleb and Toni, quickly agreed on the name Jordan, as they were both big Chicago Bulls fans. Jordan became my BFF, always agreed with me and was always happy to see me. Jordan was with us for 17 years. Jordan shared many of these years with another Great Dane, Chelsea, a brindle, whom we got from a Great Dane rescue in Maryland. She was a beautiful animal, but shy and reserved. When she died, our vet said she had never seen a 12-year old Great Dane. Our dogs are all well cared for. In fact, I always say I want to be Wylene’s dog in my next life, the best gig going.
Our next dog was Sarge, AKC: Sergeant Pepper, who was the sweetest and most gentle dog; great with our grandchildren. He got cancer, however, and left us after seven years. When we got Sarge, we decided he needed a playmate, so we purchased a beautiful Chestnut Boxer named Girlfriend. She has now been with us seven years, and while she was sad when Sarge died, she now seems very happy as an only child. She doesn’t have to share our bed with anyone.
Girlfriend (L) and Sarge (R)
While it was not my intention, I think I have created what is commonly called a Shaggy Dog Story, which is defined as “an extremely long-winded anecdote, characterized by extensive narration of typically irrelevant incidents and terminated by an anti-climax or pointless punch line.” I think my essay qualifies.
But what may be more important is to share with you the pictures below; the perfect antidote for a hot dog day.
Taking the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge.” Go to ALS.org and make a donation to help find a cure.