One theory about the origin of the expression “dog days of summer” attributes it to newspapers years ago that, hard up for something to write about in the steamy depths of summer, would run pictures of dogs. The news hasn’t been slow this summer, but we decided to run a pet issue, anyway.

We asked readers to send us stories about their pets and received more than 40 responses. These are the ones we thought were most representative of all the stories we received about dogs and cats, birds and rodents, the living and deceased. As an extra bonus, our media writer, Cat Warren, who also is a devoted dog owner, wrote a useful training guide.

We shouldn’t be surprised that people like to write about their pets. The U.S. Census Bureau says that in 2001, 36 percent of all households owned a dog and 32 percent had a cat. The number of households with birds is going up (4.6 percent in 1996), while the number with horses is going down (1.5 percent that year).

So, if you find yourself falling for the stories of Chewy, who was saved from a short chain on a dusty road; or wiener dogs and the “Dachshund Underground Railroad”; or a parakeet as beloved as any puppy you’ve ever known, remember: Like people and the pets they love, you are not alone.–Richard Hart

Is this your dog?
Carol and Katie Wolf, Raleigh

Ten things I like to chew on
Domino Houston (as told to John McMullen)

The big man & little dog club
Rob Gilbert, Raleigh

Crazy for Cavy
Talena Chavis, Durham

Wild and crazy girl
Katherine Schulist, Chapel Hill

The weiner woman
Diane Daniel, Durham

“Look how much I love you”
Nicole Tavitian Pawelski, Holly Springs

Karmic fur
Linda Schmoldt, Chapel Hill

Charlie and Matthew
Clare Brown, Raleigh

Mark’s best friend
Larry W. Tombaugh, Cary

Plus:How to train your dream dog
by Cat Warren

Don’t just sit there: Pet resources
by Alanna Miller