The Dogs Days of Summer

July 28, 2020

Did you know that the “dog days of summer” are an actual thing? That’s right — it’s a term used to describe the hazy days of summer at its zenith, the period of long afternoons that turn into warm nights. After the initial rush of “school’s out!” and right before the panic of “school’s back,” this is the stretch of the year that seems limitless.

The dog days of summer are known for being among the warmest of the season. Such days conjure up listless floating in the pool, scrambling to find shade and, of course, dogs panting even though they haven't been running around. It's too hot for running, after all. Despite the phrase's association with heat-struck canines, it has nothing to do with them. Well, it has nothing to do with earthbound dogs anyway. The term “Dog Days” traditionally refers to a period of particularly warm to hot weather occurring during the summer months of July and August in the Northern Hemisphere.

In ancient Greece and Rome, the Dog Days were believed to be a time of drought, bad luck, and unrest, when dogs and men alike would be driven mad by the extreme heat. Today, the phrase doesn’t conjure up such bad imagery. Instead, the Dog Days are associated purely with the time of summer’s peak temperatures.

This period weather coincides with the year’s heliacal (meaning “at sunrise”) rising of Sirius, the Dog Star. Sirius is part of the constellation Canis Majoris—the “Greater Dog”—which is where Sirius gets its canine nickname, as well as its official name, Alpha Canis Majoris. Not including our own Sun, Sirius is the brightest star in the sky.


Speaking of dogs, fortunately, Santa Rosa and Sonoma County is a very dog-friendly place. When it comes to traveling, sometimes you just don't want to leave your pup at home. Many spots in our destination not only let you eat, drink, hike, and explore together, they encourage it. Visitors of the canine kind are welcome across Sonoma County, on dog-friendly restaurant patios, in dog-friendly hotels, and on dog-friendly beaches and hiking trails. Your four-legged, furry friend certainly loves outings as much as you do.

Take for instance our hospitality partners at Mutt Lynch Winery. Winemaker and owner Brenda Lynch discovered her passion for winemaking when she, husband Chris, and their 3 dogs moved to Sonoma County in 1994. Brenda started to work in cellars in the Russian River Valley and she credits these early years as cellar worker into cellar master with providing the foundation of her winemaking philosophy - harvest beautiful fruit, treat it gently in the winery and keep the winemaking as natural as possible. In 1995, Brenda decided to make her first professional wine, a Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, and Mutt Lynch Winery was born.

To this day, people ask Brenda why she named her winery after her dogs. The simple answer has always been "why not?" Upon deeper reflection, Brenda would confide that she has never had any personal interest in the pretentious side of the wine business. Quite the opposite. Since her first vintage, Brenda has wanted to make exceptional wine and have fun sharing her wines with friends old and new. Perhaps the inspiration for her winery's name came from a motto Brenda and Chris adapted early in their lives together:


We love Brenda and Chris’ philosophy and encourage all canine-lovers to learn more about all the dog-friendly businesses in and around Santa Rosa, the urban heart of Sonoma County. Check out our dog-friendly recommendations here.

And finally, here is our list of things you can learn from a dog:

  • Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride.
  • Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
  • When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
  • When it is in your best interest, always practice obedience.
  • Let others know when they have invaded your territory.
  • Take naps and always stretch before rising.
  • Run, romp, and play daily.
  • Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.
  • Be loyal.
  • Never pretend to be something you are not.
  • If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
  • When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
  • Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
  • Thrive on attention and connect with people.
  • Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
  • On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
  • When you are happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
  • No matter how often you are criticized, do not buy into the guilt thing and pout. 
  • Run right back and make friends.

Visit Santa Rosa Visitor's Guide Cover'