Well, we’re in our dog days of summer – and PBS has dogs! Of course there’s Clifford, Martha, and some of you may recall Wishbone, but there’s also Suki (“Molly of Denali”), Hal (“Nature Cat”), and the legendary “Odd Squad” puppy episode. For a family-friendly scientific exploration, look up the episode “Dog Tales” from Nova.
The dog days refer to the prominence of Sirius, the Dog Star, during the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere. Spanish has a beautiful word, La Canícula, for the dog days. It comes from the Latin term Canis Major referring to the “Greater Dog” constellation. The Ancient Greeks marked its clear visibility as the onset of stifling heat and strange weather events. While the heat is a given, here’s hoping that strange weather stays away!
The big message from Austin PBS for kids and families this summer is, “Look up!” As your family retreats from the heat and heads indoors, if you notice that everyone is looking down at their own screens, try yelling, “Look up!” Once they do, make eye contact and ask if you’d all like to do something together. Make popsicles, sing into a box fan, tell each other stories of when you were really, really cold. If you have a dog in your life, consider giving it a big hug. That won’t cool you off, but you’ll both be happier for it.
Benjamin Kramer, PhD, is the director of education for Austin PBS.