Dog days, dog stars

These summertime dog days in the United States are said to be so named because the Dog Star rises and sets with the sun at this time of year. Speaking less Siriusly, our dog star at the moment is a friend's golden retriever puppy that rises and sets with total unpredictability. One moment it is a tiny lion on the hearth. The next it is a miniature Groucho Marx thrusting itself brashly in the face of a senior golden retriever, whose nose turns up and away like that of Groucho's old foil, Margaret Dumont, haughtily offended by such an uncouth upstart.

In this small bundle resides a fundamental challenge. You love to have it put its paws up and nuzzle you; yet it has to be taught not to do so against the day when it could knock you over. Of course, after you say no, you can give extra pats for compliance with the law of the house. Then both of you smile, and Groucho goes off to make Margaret Dummont wonder what she did to deserve this again. With dog stars like this, dog days could get a good name.

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