It has been nearly four months since I visited you at your home, and we wrestled in your yard. I hear you have grown since then. I am no taller but I may be a little wider. It's hard to tell with all of this fur. Maree says she thinks I am heavier every time she picks me up, but fortunately we don't have a scale, so she can't confirm her supposition. I am glad of that because she would probably have me on the scale every day and then on a diet and what fun would that be? Do you think rose bushes have a lot of calories because I have some of that every day. I pull large branches from the plant and munch on them. I am not too fond of the pickers though, but that does not stop me.
Life has been somewhat busier here lately now that the sun is shining again. It is still cold out, and I love the cold weather. At night I just lay out on the patio and look at the stars and listen to the sounds of the wild boar in the fields below. When I hear them, I am glad that there is a fence around my yard, but otherwise, I would rather roam free. I keep knocking the fence down one slat at a time when I jump up and down and run to chase any car that comes by. Well, I don't exactly run; I hop like that jack rabbit I saw. Jim has had to repair the fence at least three time so far.
A week ago, we went to the beach in Senigallia on a sunny, but cold day. First, Jim and Maree had to visit the bank there to get a new bank card because we never received one in the mail and our old one was expired. So we went to the old central district and walked through the town which has a lot of clothing stores. The bank is a very old building and to enter it you have to go through a glass booth one person at a time. Jim carried me into the booth, the door closed, and then another door opened into the bank. I don't like this little glass booth. I don't exactly know what claustrophobia is, but I might have it. In the bank, it took a while for the man to figure everything out so that Jim could have a new bank card. I sat on the floor being the perfect little dog. I knew something was happening here, but I didn't know what it was and I was anxious to get out of there. After answering a lot of questions, Jim was eventually handed a new card. He is still trying to figure out all of the codes to use it online however.
Once back in the car, we drove to the southern part of Senigallia to a restaurant on the beach. Of course, I had to wait until Jim and Maree had lunch before we could go for a walk. It was different walking on the beach here in the winter. No one else was there, and a bulldozer had pushed a lot of the sand back to form a barrier so the waves did not destroy any of the buildings along the beach. Little tiny shells covered the beach. They had an alluring smell, and I tried to roll in them much to Maree's dismay. So, my walk was not too long, but I liked it. I don't think I am afraid of the water, but I wasn't allowed to go near it. That's okay, it looked pretty cold anyway. My biggest regret is that we weren't there long enough for me to dig a big hole. I know that sand would be perfect for digging in, and it is one of my favorite past times. Oh, well, next time I am on the beach I will just start digging the minute we hit the sand.
It seems that everywhere we go there is a restaurant or a winery involved. We have dinner at our friend Alessia's bed and breakfast a lot. And last Sunday we went for Sunday lunch which is a big occasion here in Italy. There was another little dog under the table across from us. As soon as she saw me, she wanted to play. She was just a youngster, only six months old, and she liked to wrestle, so we started to play between the tables. No one freaked out! Imagine that! We did manage to keep the noise and craziness to a minimum, and we didn't knock anything off of the tables. Of course, I was hoping that some of that fish I kept smelling would hit the floor, but it remained safely plated on top of the tables. This was the most fun I have had since we moved here. Now I can't wait to go back to Alessia's, and I hope that doggie will be back. Unfortunately, she lives in Ancona which is pretty far away. One little boy who was about two years old kept coming to try to pet me, but he was a little shy when he approached. I was good around him. The little boy's father was very impressed with my behavior toward his son, and he commented about how calm I am. Hah, that was pretty funny. Alessia, who was standing nearby, immediately disabused him of that fact. Well, I can be calm when the situation calls for it, but at home I am a little terror - or so I am told.
Honey, I hope you had a happy valentine's day. We went to the restaurant affiliated with the Moncaro winery for lunch. It is an upscale restaurant at the end of a little white road. It serves principally fresh fish. We were seated at a table where I had a lot of room to stretch out and not be in the way, but I could watch everything that was going on so I could be sure there were no bad guys around. They immediately brought me my own small, green doggie dish full of water, which was nice, but they didn't bring me any fish. I had to survive on dog treats. But I enjoyed the views from my position on the floor. I hope we can go back when the weather is warmer and sit outside. I think I will like that.
The big news around here is that Maree has been searching for a hotel in Sorrento, and she finally booked one. Well, she booked one after she cancelled two others, one because it did not permit dogs and the other because she misread the price and instead of 650 euro for the five nights it was 650 euro a night. She was so relieved that it was a reservation that could be cancelled without a penalty. I am not so enthused about going to Sorrento because it will be about a six hour ride in the car. Although I don't get car sick anymore, not even on all of the twisty turny roads here, I still don't like the car; and I shake a lot when we are driving. I guess they call this travel anxiety. Maree bought something called Calm Balm and has tried it on me. The jury is still out as to whether or not it is working, but I know she is anxious to find something before we take the drive to Sorrento in mid-April. While I don't like the car, I am rather interested in seeing Pompeii while we are there. I hear that there has been a lot of digging there, and I am looking forward to helping. I have a lot of experience which I think will be helpful.
Honey, I hope to hear from you soon.
Your pal in Italy,
It has been a while since I have heard from you. I hope you are having fun with our friends at the dog park. I am still all alone here in my yard, but the other day I had an encounter with a hunting dog. He was a big dog like a blue tick hound. He came up to the fence, and we rubbed noses. He jumped around like he wanted to play. That didn't last long, however, because his owner called him away. Sigh. I do want someone to play with here.
I finally discovered what all of those holes I have dug in the yard are good for. Now I take all of my treats outside and bury them. Burying things is almost as good as digging the holes. And I have found that the added dirt makes them taste even better. But I must admit that my nose is pink and little sore from the activity. Jim and Maree have taken to calling me Rudolf - I think it has something to do with a song.
There has been more snow since the last time I wrote to you. But it was a very wet snow and then the rain started and washed it all away. I was disappointed. I love to go out in the yard and lay down in the snow. I am pretty sure that we will have more snow before the winter is over, and I am excited about that. But now the weather has finally gotten above freezing, so it won't be for a while.
I have a new nighttime activity. I go outside on the deck, even in the freezing cold, and just sit for hours staring out into the darkness. I know there are creatures out there. I can hear them walking through the grasses, but I can't see them. Sometimes I think I see little eyes staring back at me, but then they disappear into the night. Fortunately, these creatures, whatever they are, don't come in the yard. I am not sure if I should be afraid of them or if I will like them, so I stay close to the door just in case. I hear there are wild boar out there and porcupines and foxes and sometimes a deer. But there are not many deer here. I think the hunters have killed most of them. But somehow, the boar manage to elude them. Speaking of the hunters, they seem to be here all of the time now in their orange vests, carrying guns. They walk around like they own the place tromping through our property with great entitlement. They park their cars everywhere even sometimes blocking our road. I am pretty sure I don't like the hunters. Even when I don't see them, I can hear the gun shots in the distance. I am a great sentinel, and I let Jim and Maree know they are around. I can bark at them for hours non-stop. I chase along the fence when their cars go by. Fortunately, there is no one around here for my barking to bother, but Maree says she hopes I am not like this when I return to California or the neighbors will be complaining. Even after hours of barking I am not hoarse. I think I was made to bark.
There is one little creature out in the dark that keeps me company on the patio some nights. It is a tiny, furry grey thing. I can smell it when it is near. We play a game of hide and seek. I chase it and try to get it. But it is so small it can disappear under small cracks in the stones. I am fast, but I think this little thing could be faster. I haven't actually caught one yet. Apparently, after we go to bed, these little creatures like to come in to the house through a little crack in one of the stone walls. Jim has caught a couple in a trap. Now he is determined to fix that little crack in the stone wall to keep them out. I first noticed these little grey furry balls when the weather got really cold here. I guess they are just searching for a place to stay warm and dry.
Jim and Maree's favorite activity here seems to be going out for lunch or dinner. We have been to several restaurants since I last wrote to you. A few weeks ago, we met some of Maree and Jim's young friends for Sunday lunch. First we drove to Osimo on the autostrada and met Olimpia at a cafe, so we could follow her car to the restaurant in Loreto where we would have lunch. Osimo is a hill town surrounded by walls. The streets were very narrow and made of small stones that are hard to walk on. We met Olimpia at the Cafe del Corso right in the middle of the center of town. Maree had a glass of prosecco while we waited, but she complained to Jim that it did not taste like prosecco, and she didn't drink it. Gabriele was still home taking a shower after soccer practice with his son, so we went back to their house to get Gabri, Santiago and Ginevra and her boy friend. Gabriele and Olimpia have a big dog, but it did not seem to like me much, so I couldn't get too close to the fence. And I was disappointed.
At the restaurant, we met Fabrizio and Elinora and their two boys and Silvia and Gianfranco and their two sons. In total, there were 16 people at the table, and only one dog, me. I was trying to lay quietly behind Maree's chair, but then one of the waiters stepped on me. He was very apologetic, but after that I decided that maybe it was safer under the table. Gabriele ordered the lunch for everyone, and everything was served family style. First there were platters of fried stuffed olives, called Olive Ascolani here, fried mozzarella sticks, the most beautiful homemade potato chips, and fried eggplant sticks along with some seasoned croutons. Then there were platters of ravioli in a butternut squash and proscuitto sauce and tagliatelli in a porcini mushroom sauce. This was followed by heaping platters of meats - lamb, beef, and pork. At my space under the table, I kept hoping for some things to drop to the floor. It all smelled so good and my nose was working overtime. But, alas, I had to settle for some of my treats and a taste of bread. Lunch lasted until about 5:00 pm, and then we had a long drive home.
We have also been to the little restaurant in our town a couple of times. It has good pizza. Last week when we were there, Maree met an older man she knew from when they lived here before. He seemed to like me, so when I saw his pizza arrive, I stood up and put my paws in his lap looking so sweet and forlorn hoping he would share. Well, apparently this is not good restaurant etiquette, and Maree made me get down and told me no. I kept looking at the man though because I know he wanted to share with me. I had to wait until Maree's pizza finally arrived to get some. That was more fun than the other restaurant we went to where all I was given to eat were some of the same old treats I always eat. BORING.
Yesterday we went to the Moncaro winery for a little wine tasting. Actually, Jim and Maree did the wine tasting. I just had to lay down and be quiet which is very difficult for me to do. Next to where I was laying I noticed a box of wines that had stuff like Easter grass in it. I thought that looked appetizing, so I tried a few pieces. Actually, it is dry and tasteless, and I eventually spit it out. The people at the winery remembered Jim and Maree and Luca, my doggie predecessor, even though they have not been there for more than three years. The man even remembered that Luca had been named after an Italian guitar player. I tried my best to be noticed, so they will always remember me too.
I hope you remember me Louie. It has been more than three months since I left California. I am starting to feel like an Italian dog, but I miss my California home. I wonder if I will miss Italy when we return? I do think I will miss Italian dog food. While some of the dry dog food here is the same brands as in California, there is a much broader variety of different canned foods, and I am trying them one by one. My favorite so far is the lamb, but sometimes I like salmon. I had wild boar this week, but I really didn't like the taste much. Or maybe I just didn't like the idea of it because I know what a wild boar is and I feel bad that they are being hunted. There are lots of other varieties that for one reason or another Maree refuses to buy for me like horse, rabbit, veal, and deer. There is also all types of fish. I tried tuna one day, but I prefer salmon. I wonder which ones you would like Louie. As I recall, you seemed to like to eat anything.
Hoping to hear from you again soon. As we say in Italy, Ciao, a presto.
I am Maree, the voice of Dino - or at least I am the one who does the typing. For more information about me and my life in Italy, you can follow me at theproseccoproject.com.