July already.  Thank Goodness I write and date my weekly columns, otherwise I would have no idea which month it was.  

July heralds the start of the ‘dog days of summer’, often just referred to as Dog Days.  The exact dates of the Dog Days can vary from source to source, and because they are traditionally tied to the dawn rising of Sirius, they have also changed over time.  Traditionally they refer to a period of particularly hot and humid weather occurring during the summer months of July and August.  In the good old days when July and August used to be summer months, that is.  Some sources state more specifically that they are for the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11. This is obviously soon after the Summer Solstice which also tends to herald the beginning of the worst of summer’s heat – and which was the case for our most recent (albeit short) heat wave.

There is a chance that St Swithin’s Day, at the middle of the month, could put a real damper on the Dog Days. Folklore has it that if it rains on July 15, then it will rain for 40 days and 40 nights.

In ancient Greece and Rome, the Dog Days were believed to be a time of drought, bad luck, and unrest, when dogs and (wo)men alike would be driven mad by the extreme heat, but these days I think the phrase is a bit more cheerfully used for hot and sunny summer days.   


And staying with the dog theme, Angela Jones – aka Wild Woman of the Wye – has just launched her second book, Wild Adventures With Your Canine Friend.   I think it is a ‘must-read’ for all dog owners, not just those enjoying ‘wild adventures,’ as Angela shares so much information and advice that is pertinent to even just walking in the countryside with your four-legged friends.  

We are all great at thinking ‘it will never happen to us’, and thankfully it usually doesn’t but prevention is always better than cure. And knowledge is a powerful thing.  Both Angela and I are huge fans of nature but also know that it is not all about ‘beautiful blossom and bird-song’, nature has a habit of using the ‘naughty step’ for those who don’t respect her ways and familiarise themselves with the intricacies associated with outdoor activities.  Like the blue green algae, adder bites and discarded fishing hooks, for example.  But did you also know the dangers associated with leaving pouches of wet dog food in the sun? 

Whilst full of tips and great safety advice (like her previous book, Wild Swimming The River Wye) Angela’s new book is far from discouraging or fear mongering.  There are lovely sections on how to make sure your dog can also safely enjoy the activities that you love – from kayaking and paddle boarding to sleeping out under the stars.  And there are also heart-warming and humorous stories about her expeditions far and wide with Jack, her beloved canine companion of 15 years.

Angela now has a little ‘new recruit’, Junior, who Jack taught the basics to, before his own final adventure over Rainbow Bridge.  ‘Wild Adventures With Your Canine Friend’ is very much a tribute to Jack and a testament to his own love and respect of nature and life on the wild side with his ‘pawrent’.   It is a fabulous read.

Well known for her campaigning and support of the countryside, Angela is using all the monies raised by the book to enable her to continue her fight for pollution-free rivers.    Both her books are available from www.angelajonesswimwild.co.uk