Most experts agree there is not much danger of your dog going blind from looking at the sun during today’s “Great American Eclipse.”
Dogs, they say, know better than to look at the sun — during the eclipse or any other time.
Humans, from all indications, do not.
We just HAVE to see it during an eclipse — live, as it happens. Even though we get darkness every night, experiencing it during the day, and observing the source of the phenomenon, qualifies to many as a must-see event.
True, this is the first total solar eclipse view-able in the U.S. since 1979. True, it’s the first whose path will run from one coast to the other since 1918. True, it is considered “spectacular,” even though it lacks any sort of booms or grand finale.
Sure, we could wait and watch it on TV again and again and again and again. But, for us humans, that won’t do. We want to have been there, in the “path of totality,” as if it were Woodstock or something.
As a result, traffic jams were reported throughout the weekend as thrill-seekers traveled to points along the 70-mile wide, coast-to-coast path of the eclipse.
Long lines continued to form to get eclipse glasses that may or may not be legit. Tiny towns have been inundated with more eclipse followers than there are restaurants or toilets for. Motels along the route are filling up, despite jacked up prices, and property owners are happily gouging travelers as well for space to sleep or view the eclipse.
It will be like one big coast to coast party, and therein lies a big hunk of its appeal, to both science nerds and non-science nerds.
But that appeal doesn’t extend to dogs.
Dogs — just as they don’t smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, or spend hours tanning — don’t stare into the sun, eclipsed or not.
(Even so, most experts recommend playing it safe and keeping pets inside when the eclipse’s path passes through your area.)
To help us survive the event, the news media is offering plenty of tips — albeit not the most obvious one — on keeping our human eyes safe.
Eclipse sunglasses are a must, we’re told. They are also pretty much sold out, we’re told. Many of those being marketed don’t actually offer the recommended amount of protection.
Creating a pinhole viewer from a cardboard box, as I believe I learned to do in junior high school, is also suggested. Now, as then, it seems a lot of work to see what is basically just a shadow of one orb passing in front of another.
I’m pretty sure schools were teaching us about pinhole cameras and eclipses before they ever started telling us the facts about sex — safe or otherwise. As a result, many of us were left with the misconception that there were two activities that could lead to blindness, three if you count running with scissors.
Now, we’re being told to bring protection if we’re going to go out and view the eclipse.
Sex and eclipse-viewing may have some things in common. Both seem prompted by some strong and mystical urge. Both, if not practiced safely, can be risky behaviors. Both seem to be opportunities most people don’t want to miss.
But they are as different as night and day. Eclipses, in my experience, occur far more often. Pinholes are suggested for one, and can be disastrous in the other. Which one people will drive a greater distance for … well I don’t think any studies have been done on that.
Still, common sense requires me to point out, the safest route when it comes to eclipse viewing is to show a little of the smarts dogs have and not look directly at the sun, with or without special glasses, today or any other day.
That’s right, abstain.
Humans being humans, and myself included, that’s not likely to happen.