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The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
These Are the Dog Days of Summer
By Susan Nye

It’s that sweltering time of year when the air is thick and heavy and the heat
can be merciless.  These are the dog days of summer.  All we want to do is
laze around under a tree or in the lake.  

Many believe that the term was invented to describe the type of day that is so
hot that even the most eager dog will spend the day lying around in the
shade.  Not true, first I firmly believe that Daisy, my brother’s dog, would
chase a Frisbee across the Mohave Desert on the hottest day of the year.  And
second, dog days originated with the Romans.  During ancient times, Sirius,
the Dog Star, rose at dawn during the hottest part of the summer.  The
Romans blamed the star for the sultry weather.  

For many years we have been very lucky; we have spent the dog days of
summer on Pleasant Lake (New Hampshire). Dogs were even permitted on
the beach for the first few years.  After all, they too had been stuck in
suburbia all winter.  No one wanted to leave their dog in the house all day,
hot or lonely or both.  They happily trotted along with us down to the lake to
swim, retrieve sticks and keep us company.  

The water patrol did not accept dogs as spotters for water skiing but many
were invited onto Sunfishes for leisurely afternoon sails.  They were
generally agreeable as long as they could jump out and swim to shore when
the fickle winds on Pleasant Lake inevitably died.  On sweltering days, kids
and dogs alike would lie around under the trees, barely moving.  From time
to time throughout the long, hot afternoons we would summon up the
energy and courage to make a dash across the blistering sand and into the

Eventually there was one territorial dispute too many and dogs were banned
from the beach from the 8 in the morning until 7 in the evening.  Our dog
Eeyore was a lot like his namesake, the donkey in the Winnie the Pooh
stories.  A little cantankerous, a little melancholy, Eeyore was a loveable
black Labrador Retriever who was born old.  As he did with most things, he
accepted his exile to the house with dignity.  Forced indoors, he searched out
cool places to snooze away the long afternoons until his family returned.  

On hot days, Eeyore wrapped his big, old, Labrador body around the toilet
to stay cool.  On really hot days he climbed in the bath tub.  As he got older
and more arthritic it became one of life’s unsolved mysteries as to how he got
up and into the tub.   How he got out was not a mystery.  It took at least two
of us to wrestle 75 pounds of awkward dog up and out of the tub.

With or without our dogs, after about a week of lazy, do-nothing days, our
mothers would push us out of the shade.  We were too young to work, so the
moms were always on the look-out for activities to keep us out of trouble.  
They turned a deaf ear to protests that it was too hot to move.  We were
drafted to wash cars to raise money for the hospital. We were enrolled in life
saving classes and swam to Blueberry Island.  We were pushed into tennis
lessons and, regardless of our ability to hit the ball, our names were put onto
tennis ladders and tournaments rosters.  A weekly sail boat race for kids was
thrown together.  I was not a great sailor and never managed better than 3rd
or 4th place.   Always a bit confused with who had the right of way, my
greatest claim to fame was ramming another boat and leaving a good-sized
hole on its starboard side.   Or maybe it was the port side.  Any way I lost
some of my enthusiasm for racing after the incident.  

None of us were particularly bad kids but our Mothers were always a little
bit nervous that too much free time would lead to mischief.   And they were
probably right.

About the author:

New Hampshire resident, Susan Nye, is a self-confessed “foodie” and likes
nothing better than a crowd of family and friends around her table.   To learn
more about her cooking classes and private chef services, visit her web site at or email her at © Susan W. Nye,
Susan Nye – Around the Table
Dog Days of Summer,
New Hampshire

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