These are the dog days of Summer. If you don’t believe us check your almanac, or better yet, just step outside in the early afternoon. The season gets its name from the dog star, Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. It’s part of the constellation Canis Major which means either “big dog” or “let the buyer beware”, depending on which ex-altar boy we ask.
Speaking of Latin stuff, it was the ancient Romans who believed that when the dog star appeared alongside the rising and setting sun it meant that the heat would cause dogs to go mad and make people become listless. Listless being another name for idle, we have to sort of welcome the dog days; they’re definitely our kind of days.
The Brits, too, often get dogs mixed up in their concept of excessive heat. Noel Coward wrote a song called “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” in which he offered that they were the only two species crazy enough to go out in the heat of the day. This was true of British people in India where they would drink tea – the hot, not the iced kind – and wear wool suits and ball gowns all the time.
All you need to do is watch a movie by David Lean, “A Passage to India”, to see how totally nuts they were. We used to think that “Cool Hand Luke” was the sweatiest movie ever, but David Lean flicks, including “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Bridge Across the River Kwai” sure give them a run for the money. Each one is sweatier than the last, and if there’s a prize for combination sweatiest and dustiest, “A Passage to India” might take Best in Class and Best in Show.
We once had a dog who seemed acutely aware of the threat posed by the dog days to him personally. He would make a show of accompanying us outdoors when we were set to mow the lawn or weed the garden, but after watering the hedges and sniffing the tomato plants he’d drop the whole man’s best friend pretense and flee back into the A/C. He liked to sit inside the patio door and watch us perspire like David Lean extras.
It’s not just dogs you need to watch out for, though. In New York there’s an extremely aggressive squirrel that has bitten at least five people in a park in Brooklyn. This has led to some memorable headlines in the Gotham tabloids, like “Crazed Squirrel on Biting Rampage!” and “Psycho Squirrel on the Loose!” In the most recent sighting he was elected to city council where he has sponsored a bill to make New York a sanctuary city for irritable rodents.
Concerns about demented creatures are not unique to the United States either. The Chinese have taken a firm stand against Canadian pipsqueak Justin Bieber by banning him from performing in the Middle Kingdom, announcing:
“In order to maintain order in the Chinese market and purify the Chinese performance environment, it is not suitable to bring in badly behaved entertainers.”
Maybe once the Mexican wall is done they can think about one up North too. Nothing against Alex Trebek either – this would be an exclusively Bieber blockade..
Finally, our region has experienced its own unprovoked attacks by wacky wildlife, and unlike the sob sisters in New York and the Chi-Com mandarins, we know how to handle it quickly, decisively and without a lot of commotion. At least that’s how Dan Waldenville of Arnold (it’s just beyond New Ken) handled it. Dan was under his Jeep, he said, banging away at the exhaust system, minding his own business when he heard someone honking a horn.
“When I looked out to see what she was honking at, a raccoon knocked my hat off and bit me on the head right above my eye,”
Dan wasn’t about to take this lying down, but he had to slide out from under his vehicle before standing up and taking a bead on the two-toned terrorist. Seeing it flee in the direction of a playground, Dan gave chase and cornered him near a chain link fence. They say that when your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Dan nailed the beast three times which was enough to put him out of his misery. He needs to get a bunch of injections, but he succeeded in dispatching Rabid Rocky before he got near the kids.
So while they’re squealing about squirrels in New York and blubbering about Biebers in Beijing, we here in Western Pennsylvania are calmly bringing the hammer down on our miscreants. Stay cool. And listless.
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