We think we’re so different because of either our age or the age in which we live. Mastercards, Hybrids, iPhones, eHarmony, we’re just so damn with it that we often feel like just shoving it up the app and being done with it.
We’re not that different, really, than those from before. They had their aeoroplanes, Tin Lizzies, classified ads. People were going to forget how to write entirely once they got a hand-cranked telephone in the parlor. They didn’t.
The origins of the phrase “Dog Days of Summer” are traced back to ancient Greece and Rome, tied to the astrological placement of the star Canis Majoris (yes, as in canine) and the Latin expression dies caniculares (yes, “the puppy days.”) Some credit the August connection to Dogs with August 16, the holy day of medieval Saint Roch, the patron saint of not just Dogs, but people wrongly accused, bachelors, and the plague. Who couldn’t relate to Roch, the original dog-whisperer.
One thing really has never changed. Our fascination, dependency, and just plain love of Dogs. We talk to them, we wonder what they think. We never really know. They have us wrapped around their paws.
Most of us (at least those not sick enough to take out frustrations with our own species in vile acts of cruelty, betrayal and neglect towards that one which still keep coming back with love) trust and rely on their silent presence. They give us balance, satisfaction and purpose. They give us a love that is always heartbreaking; permanent, lifelong devotion all the while we are conscious of the fact that their vivid lives will prove far more ephemeral than our own.
As proven by the faces seen in these one hundred-plus images of Dogs and their companions, our commitment to these Sentient Beings may well prove to be the most enduring accomplishment of the Human Being.
With the days now getting hotter, before they wane, our Dogs are lazing about more, a bit less enthusiastic to get out and about, more inclined to instead stay peacefully inside with us.
This is the start of “The Dogs Days of August,” and no better time to look into some of their faces and recognize the continuity among them – and among the generations of ourselves.
They are all of us, the very old to the very young, white, black, brown, yellow red, men, women, high-hats and low-brows, slickers and bumpkins, snobs and peasants, nose-to-the-grindstoners and goodtime-Charleys.
Apart from death itself, it almost seems that the Dog is what binds us together.
We create problems that don’t exist. They can usually solve them, simply by widening their poignant, fluid eyes and fixing them onto us.
Every Dog, truly, is a Buddha; it just may be that the sad experiences one of us has put them throw has learned to fear being themselves.
These images have been collected over the years from public domain sources stretching back to the 1880s and stopping about 1961. The ones chosen here were culled from an even larger number; it was difficult to chose which to post.
In the many reviews of the final choices, I confess to seeing three or four repeats. I was about to go through them all again, carefully, but then, with Hooch on the big blue chair and Hudson on the brown leather sofa, looking at me from the left and from the right, I believe I have found a more important way to spend a spare hour.