• Rogene "Jeannie" McPherson, Special to the Journal

Country notebook: The dog days of summer

Updated: Aug 28

Apparently the condition we diagnose in our dogs this time of the year is contagious. I think I caught it from either one or both of my four-legged children, Rowdy and Digger.

My symptoms are the need to take naps during the day even after a long night’s sleep, only getting up to eat and go potty (the term I use with my dogs). The only difference in our behavior is that I will try to read a favorite book, but the outcome is the same, a nap. The three of us take to our Serta mattresses as soon as the temperature is 80 degrees out. No, my dogs don’t sleep with me, but I did buy the dog version of a mattress made by Serta.

Whenever I experience unusual health symptoms, I google what I think may be ailing me. Thus, this time I checked out “dog days of summer” which by the way is noted to be July 3 to August 11. Thank goodness, there may be an end to this period of "unproductivity." The Internet suggests it is in reference to the hot, sultry days that are not fit for a dog, whatever that means.

Its history is tied to Sirius, also known as the Dog Star, the brightest star visible from any part of the earth. Ancient stargazers blamed it for generating heat, along with the sun, accounting for the long stretch of heat. In North America from early July to early August, Sirius is difficult to spot due to its proximity to the sun. It’s better seen in February as part of the constellation Canis Major, Latin for the greater dog.

There is also a constellation called Canis Minor, the lesser dog. I assume the greater dog is running after the lesser dog, but my thoughts wander as I battle heat and exhaustion. Oh I failed to mention, in earlier times it was thought dogs became “mad” during dogs days. If one of my friends reading this, receives a phone call from me as though I am howling, perhaps my case is more severe than first thought.

Seriously, my symptoms are probably related to the aging process in that the older we get, the less we may tolerate heat. At least, it is a good excuse. But, unlike my dogs, I recognize when it is time to consider something else may be going on. We tend to fear Lyme disease and it likely is the most serious of all the tick-borne illnesses. Blood tests can identity other infections caused by ticks.

Though my intent is to add some humor when I write, I would never suggest anyone ignore symptoms that are atypical. The Internet can be a good source of medical information, but it is not always 100 percent accurate and may be best used as a means of explaining symptoms to your doctor.

And, if you have to be in the heat and humidity of summer, drink plenty of water. Even a dog knows how important this is. I am filling Rowdy’s and Digger’s water bowls often during these dog days of summer. A dog is truly a person’s best friend.

Rogene “Jeanne” McPherson is a writer who lives outside of Centerville. She recently published a book about her experiences entitled Posts from the Country, Adventures in Rural Living. It is available online in both virtual and printed editions. Copies are on the shelves at all Linn County libraries. If you are interested in buying the book, you can contact Jeanne by email at rkj.mcpherson65@yahoo.com. The Nook version is available on the Barnes and Noble site, and a Kindle version is available at Amazon .com.

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