During the sizzling month of August, we hear this a lot:

“Dog days of summer.”

However, according to the origin of the expression, dogs have nothing to do with it. Ancient Romans and Greeks linked this hot time of the year with Sirius, the Dog Star. You may have missed it, but Sirius rises from July 3 to Aug. 11 in conjunction with the sun. It’s a Northern Hemisphere thing – the rest of earth is not involved in this starry-eyed maneuver.

In spite of the “dog days of summer,” we have a cool excuse to enjoy a particular dog day. On Aug. 29 our chihuahua, Tinker, will mark his 16th birthday. That will be “16 going on 6” for our amazingly spry, self-centered canine who has yet to relinquish his role as the Alpha Dog, the CEO. Just don’t call him Napoleon. He’s sensitive about being smaller than the other dogs he bullies around.

I’m not being critical of Tinker. He’s a chihuahua, for gosh sake. We have to understand that the dictatorial “you’re not the boss of me” syndrome is in the chihuahua DNA. Personally, I think his personality is kind of cute.

I used to say it’s silly to celebrate birthdays of pets, but I’ve decided the occasion of a dog’s 16th year is a good excuse to  “let’s party.” 

Remember Molly Ringwald’s birthday in “Sixteen Candles?”  The movie is all about  Molly’s family forgetting her birthday, a transgression that triggers an attack of teen-age angst.

Please tell Tinker we won’t forget his birthday.

We will have to pass on the 16 candles – not practical atop a  can of dog food – and forget the party hat. Tinker would not wear a party hat. “Are you kidding me?” he would say if he could talk. (Talking is one of the few things he can’t do. He can even dance the cha-cha-cha backward. We should have taken him to Hollywood. He could have been a contender …)

What we might do for his birthday is buy one of those H.E.B. cakes with elite icing to serve with H.E.B. brand of cinnamon coffee. Refreshments will be for human consumption only, because cake and coffee are not good for dogs.

Don’t try to explain that to Tinker. At 16, he thinks he’s old enough to have all the cake and coffee he wants. Come to think of it, he decided the same thing when he was 6 weeks old.

Anyway, we will get him a birthday present – some kind of doggy toy plus a new bandana.

Truth be known, Tinker is not my dog. He belongs to my daughter Jan, who lives with me. She has two other dogs, Pearl the min-pin, whose name I’ve recently suggested changing to Fredo, and Scruffy, the lovable puppy-mill rescue whose heritage is  … shall we say? … checkered.

By the way, if we change Pearl’s name to Fredo, Tinker should be Mike Corleone in Godfather 2. He has Mike’s persona and is short like Al Pacino.

Siriusly, he is the smart, tough brother.

Wanda Orton is a retired managing editor of The Sun. She can be reached at viewpoints@baytownsun.com, Attention: Wanda Orton.

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