Today is the first day of what is known as the Dog Days of Summer. The association of summer with “man’s best friend” comes to our language via ancient astronomy. During the period from July 3 through August 11, the Dog Star, Sirius, rises in conjunction with the Sun. Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky and is part of the constellation Canis Major, Latin for the Greater Dog.
Some ancient Romans believed that the sultry heat of the Dog Days was explained by the combined heat of Sirius and the sun; however, even in the days before the telescope, this belief was more prominent among the superstitious than serious students of the stars (1).
English is replete with idioms (expressions that don’t make sense when taken literally) related to dogs. And it is interesting to note that despite the dog’s reputation for being “man’s best friend,” most of the expressions use dog in the negative sense. For example, they are used as scapegoats for missing homework: “My dog ate my homework.” They are associated with sickness: “Sick as a dog.” And they are even used to characterize life in general as harsh and cut throat: “It’s a dog eat dog world.”
Today’s Challenge: Dog Daze
What idioms, compound words, titles, quotations come to mind that contain the word “dog”? First, brainstorm a list of at least ten words and phrases that contain the word dog, such as the following:
-Every dog has his day
-You Ain’t Nothin But a Hound Dog
-Dogtown and the Z-Boys
-“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” –Groucho Marx
Second, use your list of ideas as a springboard for a topic that you can write about — any form or genre is okay, as long as your writing is interesting: speech, argument, memoir, poetry, fiction, dramatic monologue, open letter, personal essay, description, anecdote
Third, begin writing. Use the brainstorm idea that sparked your topic as your title. Make sure that the word “dog” is in your title. Write at least 200 words. (Common Core Writing 1, 2, or 3)
Quotation of the Day: To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs. –Aldous Huxley
2- Claiborne, Robert. Loose Cannons and Red Herrings: A Book of Lost Metaphors. New York: Ballantine Books, 1988.