I was very happy to hear from you, and I am glad that you appreciate my blog. It shows what good taste you have. I know that we have not met yet, but I hope we will meet when we return to the United States. Perhaps we can stop in Virginia on our way back to California. Or who knows, knowing the way my life is going maybe we will live in Virginia for a while. After all I am not sure that I want to move back to the land of smoke, fires and floods, but of course Brian and his family are there. I do miss those little boys.
Today I have officially lived in Italy for about 6 weeks. I think I am getting accustomed to my new surroundings, but I do miss my friends in California. I haven't made any new friends here because we are rather isolated and there is not a dog park nearby. Also, the weather has not been good, so I have not been getting walks. This week we have had a couple of nicer days with a little bit of sunshine, but it has been near freezing. Since I have lost all of my undercoat and it hasn't grown back yet, it is a little cold outside. Maree dressed me up in a little doggie coat the other day when we visited Senigallia to do some shopping and have lunch, but I felt rather silly walking around looking like that. I did not really want to be seen. When we were in the clothing store, I hid under the racks. I don't want people thinking I am a fragile little thing that can't stand the cold. After all, I am a dog bred for the cold weather and wearing a coat is rather embarrassing. Confidentially, however, I do hope my undercoat grows in soon because I am not in California anymore.
Speaking of embarrassing, the other day Maree said I was like a cat. Can you imagine that. I am all dog and not a cat -- although I have never really met a cat face to face, so I can't be sure whether this is actually something I should be offended about or not. But, what is the problem with washing my paw and then washing my face after my dinner. Do you think I want to walk around with food on my face. I do hold myself to a certain standard of cleanliness and etiquette -- although when I am excited the etiquette part goes directly out the window. Anyway, why can't a dog wash his face? Is there a law against it or something? I think people are just too prone to put everyone into a little box of their own fabrication based on little knowledge or evidence. If I want to wash my face I will. I don't care what anyone else thinks. I am my own dog forever. Nucky, do you wash your face? I think I will do a little poll of my friends to see if my behavior is so different.
I guess today I am on a rant. Too little activity, so my mind is just going crazy and making me a little anxious. I tend to be a little anxious anyway. My latest anxiety is being caused by hearing the word Bologna almost every day. I thought bologna was a meat product, but I never see any meat, so I am beginning to think that it is something else especially now that I keep hearing about trains and hotels. I guess this means we are going to be going to someplace called Bologna. I have been in several hotels in my life already, but I have not ridden a train yet. I hope I like it better than the car, because I still do not like riding in a car. But at least I don't get car sick anymore even on all of the twisty turny roads here in Italy.
Actually I don't like going to new places very much unless there are friendly dog smells and lots of things going on to distract me. I think Maree said there are a number of Christmas fairs happening in Bologna, so maybe that could be fun. She is very excited about a French Christmas fair there with little chalets and Champagne. I know about Champagne from California, and I know I am not allowed to have any of it, so I don't think I will have much fun at the French Christmas fair unless I meet some nice little French poodles. I have met a couple of fake French poodles in California, but it will be fun to meet a real one from France. I wonder if they will bark with an accent? Maybe in the spring we can go and visit France, and I can meet more French poodles. I know Maree is wanting to go to visit the Champagne region, so if we are still living in Europe then -- France here I come. (I better start learning some French to woo those poodles.)
It is not likely that the house in Italy will sell before the spring as there is very little sales activity in the winter months. At least living here during the winter will mean I will get to experience some snow. I have never seen snow, but I think it will be fun to run around in as long as they don't try to dress me up in some coat and boots.
How do I know there will be snow here you asked? Well, I know there is snow because Jim has been trying to get snow tires. He ordered them three weeks ago, and a week ago he went to have them put on the car. He had an appointment to return because the store did not have the right tires for his car. So, after two weeks, he went at the appointed time only to be told that he did not have an appointment. Well, he showed the woman the paper with his appointment time on it and her response was, "you must have changed it". Finally she works out that he can have the tires put on the car and they put the car on the lift. When they are done, the car has two of the four tires that were ordered. "Oh, signore", she said, " the other two tires have not arrived. Come back next week and we will put them on." So, today was next week, and Jim went down to the store for his appointment to have the other two tires put on the car. They put the car on the lift, and he waited about forty five minutes. Finally, the woman came up to him and said. "Oh, signore, Your tires have not arrived yet. They should come later today. We will call you when they arrive." So, Jim drove back up the hill, without his new tires, and told Maree this saga. A few hours later the phone rang. "Signore, your tires have arrived. Can you come in on Wednesday to have them put on the car?" By this point, Jim had enough, so he said he wanted the tires put on today. And the woman acquiesced. Well, after hearing the phone call, Maree turned to Jim and said. "This is life in Italy. You just have to love it." And she shrugged her shoulders just like an Italian.
Nucky, I hope your life in Virginia is more stable and sane than mine in Italy. Have a great holiday season with your family.
Ciao from Italy,
Dino, the expat dog
I have not heard from you in a while. I guess you have not had much time at the dog park recently since the air quality there has been so horrid. I think our air here has been good, but it has been so very foggy again that I don't like to be outside much myself. Who knows what creatures lurk out there in the foggy night. I sit on the patio next to the door and peer into the darkness, and I listen to the sounds, but I don't venture too far. Once I heard a very strange crying, almost shrieking sound. Whatever made the noise I know I never want to meet.
I just had my first Thanksgiving in Italy, and actually, it was my first Thanksgiving with Maree and Jim. I am still trying to recover from the experience. First of all, in Italy they don't celebrate American Thanksgiving, obviously. But Maree celebrates it and she invites friends here to enjoy an American Thanksgiving dinner. It is not so easy to make a traditional American Thanksgiving here because it is hard to get some ingredients. Jim had to go and order a whole turkey at the butchers because it is not a common thing here. When you order the turkey you have to tell them you want a small one so it can fit in the tiny oven. Then you tell them to clean it and take off the head and feet. The problem, apparently, is that when it arrives it always still has quills in it. Maree was not happy about this and got tweezers to start pulling quills out. I think I heard her say a few expletives as she worked.
I don't really understand why getting a whole turkey is a problem because I saw a whole turkey just down the road at our friend's house running around in the yard with the chickens. Well, if they asked me, I think I could have caught it for them. You know that I can run very fast.
I heard Maree telling people that the Thanksgiving menu was a little different this year. It started with a rather traditional Italian antipasti with a lot of different things. Of course, there was the turkey and a sweet potato pie. Sweet potato pie you ask? Yes, because it is so difficult to get pumpkin here and the pumpkin can cost as much as 40 euro for a big one. (There is no Libbys pumpkin in a can.) What you can buy for pumpkin isn't even the type that are used for pies in the States. In Italy they call those Halloween pumpkins and you cannot buy them to eat. So, what you can buy is actually a squash and it is not very sweet. I didn't get a taste of the sweet potato pie much to my disappointment, but everyone seemed to like it and it looked very yummy.
This year the stuffing had sausage in it along with pear and fennel. That sounds really good to me, but I guess it would not have been too good for my stomach. I don't think it could be any worse than some of the things I eat outside though. Maree made a pear bread, and apple sauce, and candied sweet potatoes. The apple sauce was to substitute for cranberry sauce since you can't buy cranberries here. Unfortunately, no one offered me any of these things to try either. I did get to taste some turkey, however, and it was really good. I hope to have more soon. I don't think there was too much left as we had 12 people here for dinner.
The days before Thanksgiving were really hectic for Maree and Jim but boring for me because no one paid any attention to me. Jim and Maree were very busy cooking, cleaning, and shopping. Jim said he shopped for 24 hours straight. I think that was an exaggeration, but I do know that he shopped on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. So many bags came into the house, but to my disappointment, there was nothing in them for me. It was all things for Thanksgiving dinner. I kept hoping to find something for me, and I tried to get attention by jumping up and down and twirling around on my hind legs, but I was just told to stop jumping. I don't think I liked that part of Thanksgiving much , but when all of the guests started to arrive, and the food started to be served then it was fun. I actually got some table food - something which I don't think I have ever had before - and I got a lot of attention.
The first people to arrive were Frans and Ingrid, and I had to show them how I can bark and jump up and down. Ingrid tried to teach me not to jump. I didn't like it but I stopped jumping on her. I still jumped on everyone else since they did not seem to know the technique to stop my jumping. Ingrid gave me treats and worked with me on sit. Frans brought a special pan to make a Dutch dessert that was like tiny pancakes. Next Cristina and Massimiliano and their family arrived. I had a great time with their son Federico and his girlfriend, Francesca. They liked to play with me and I liked chewing Federico's fingers because they tasted like turkey and gravy. Graziella and Alessia and family arrived last. When they came in, I raced out the door into the night. Jim ran out to get me and Maree was coming out too since I usually just think this is a chase game and I never come when I am called unless Maree tempts me with green beans. But tonight, all of the action was in the house, so I turned around and ran full speed back in. Of course, I don't like the dark anyway and tonight it was not only dark but also very foggy. Alessia brought her son, Alessio, who is five years old just like my Charlie back in California. I liked playing with him, but it made me miss Charlie and Rafe even more. I do get to see Charlie and Rafe on the computer once a week, but it is not like being able to jump on them and lick their bellies.
After what was hours of eating, everyone finally left, and the plates were piled high in the sink. I sat there thinking how much fun it was having a house full of people all of whom played with me. As a matter of fact, I heard Alessia tell Maree, "I really like Dino." In the end, I decided that I like this thing called Thanksgiving. It's too bad it only comes once a year because I sure liked the turkey.
As I contemplated the meaning of Thanksgiving, I realized that I am thankful for my family and friends. I am also thankful to have a yard to play in with lots of grass and branches to eat. But I hope one day to return to California and my family and friends there. I am missing dog park time a lot.
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving, Louie.
Your pal in Italy,
Thanks so much for your recent letter. I would have replied earlier, but Maree has been sick and I had to wait until her fingers were ready to do the typing again. I just can't seem to make these paws hit the right keys. They need to make a paw friendly keyboard I think. What is with these computer geeks anyway, are they anti-four legged friends? Is this discrimination? Anyway, now, Maree is feeling better, so I can dictate this letter to you.
With Maree sick, we haven't done much around here for a week. I have spent my time in the yard digging holes, eating twigs, leaves, grass and just about anything I can find. Digging big holes seems to be my new cure for boredom.
After several totally foggy days, the sun is finally back and it is very beautiful here. I like laying in the sunshine out on the patio and watching the world go by. Mostly what has gone by lately is the hunters. When I see them marching down the street in their orange vests, guns on their backs, I run out and bark. But they don't seem to be deterred. They just keep walking. Some of them have dogs with them, but many are alone. I hear that when they are hunting the wild boar though they travel in packs - not the dogs but the men. Well, I guess the dogs do too. I have not seen the "squadra" of hunters here yet, and I am not looking forward to all of those strangers going by my house on my little road and all those bellowing hounds that don't want to give me the time of day. I am really missing the company of some friendly canines.
The one thing I have done this week is go to the doctor with Maree. I don't know much about the way the doctor works in American since I have never gone to a people's doctor's office there, but from what I hear it is rather different. Here, the local doctor has hours in three different locations. We had a hard time finding his office on Friday night which was not located in our little town but down the hill in a place called Macine di Castelplanio. After driving up and down the street and around the train station, we finally found it. It is very easy to miss. It is in a rather nondescript storefront. There are no signs advertising that it is there It is just set in a row of little shops surrounded by a toy store and tobacchi. Inside is very spartan. There is a tiny little reception area with about 10 little plastic chairs and nothing else - no receptionist to greet you, no television, no paintings, just a couple of old magazines. People go in to see the doctor based on when they arrived. I don't think there is any such thing as a doctor's appointment. When we entered, the seats were basically full and there were a few people standing and waiting also. Maree took the one vacant seat and held my little carrier in her lap. Oh. did I forget to say that I had to go into my little carrier so I could not wander around and smell everything and everyone. I sat quietly and watched and several people asked about me and gave me pets. No one seemed to mind that there was a dog in the doctor's office, not even the doctor or his assistant.
When we entered the doctor's office, he acknowledged me and said I was cute. Fortunately, he did not try to pet me because I have a phobia of doctors. But his office did not smell like the doctor's offices I have been to before, and I thought maybe I did not need to be terrified of what might come. Besides, Jim still had not taken me out of my carrier, so I was pretty sure I was not the center of the doctor's attention. The fact that there were no other dogs there also gave me a clue. This was not my visit. Well, I guess whatever the doctor did for Maree is working, because she seems to be on the mend, and she offered to type this for me.
By Sunday, Maree felt well enough that we went out to lunch. To get to the restaurant, we had to drive past a town called Montecarrotto. Jim was acting all nervous and grumpy as we approached the town. I wasn't sure why until he turned to Maree and said something about returning to the scene of the crime. Then I remembered hearing a story once about Jim being arrested because he did not have an Italian license to drive. I deduced that this was where that incident happened. Apparently after living here for one year, his California license was no longer valid and he needed an Italian license. So, the police took him to the police station and he had to call a friend to go and drive the car back to the house. He could not use the car for 3 months as the police kept the registration documents, but it became a much longer time before he and Maree could get drivers licenses. Apparently, the driving test in Italy is very difficult and they had to take it in Italian.
It seems to be fly and ladybug season here right now. And there are still some bees. I don't think I really understand the whole bee thing. I bat at them with my paw and try to catch them just like the flies, but Maree seems to freak out and shoo them away before I can ever capture one. She also does not approve of me eating the flies. The ladybugs are too small for me to be very interested in, but I must admit that I am curious because they come in different colors here. There are even black ones with red spots. I think they are supposed to be good luck, so I better not tempt fate by trying to paw one of those.
Oh, sis, before I go, there is just one more thing to tell you. There do not seem to be a lot of good dog treats here. Maree has had to order some from Amazon.it and they come from a place called England. It could take over a week for them to arrive. In the meantime I could starve to death. I understand that we still have one package that was to be delivered on Halloween that is missing in action. You're lucky to be back in California, which I now think is dog treat heaven. I will be looking forward to coming back to visit and sharing your treats.
Putting my best paw forward.
Your big brother,
I'm sorry it took so long for me to write and thank you for your hospitality while I stayed in your guest house. I loved waking up every morning to your barking at the door and waiting for me to come outside to play. I would run to the door and jump up and down until Maree opened it and let me out. That was one of the best weeks of my life so far, and I miss you. I hope I didn't leave too much white fur on your carpet.
When we left your Sonoma home, we went back to Benicia for a while, but now I am in Italy. I know, where is Italy you are asking yourself? Well, I can tell you it is far away from California, and there is a very different life here. They don't even speak the same language. We live in an old stone farm house out in the country, and the pace of life is much slower here. The one exception is that people talk so fast your brain just can't keep up with what they are saying.
Last night we had quite a downpour. I have never seen it rain so hard, and the noise on the roof was deafening. I went out in the yard and ran around as fast as I could trying to avoid the rain drops. Needless to say, I came in pretty wet. But the best part of that is getting dried by the towel. Towels are one of my favorite toys. You can play tug of war with them and they are pretty tasty too. I think they have different flavors depending on the color. The towel last night was blue. It tasted like blueberries. I liked it's flavor more than the purple pansies I ate in the afternoon. But it was not as good as the zucchini flowers. Next to green beans, I think I like them best.
This morning the sun has finally come out and it is the most beautiful morning we have had since we arrived here about two weeks ago. Now I can really see and appreciate the beauty of this place. But today I have to watch out for all of the bees and yellow jackets flying around though. I hear that our neighbor, Fabrizio, has bee hives. Jim's allergic to bee stings, so I am not sure about living next to bee hives. I just hope I never get stung, but I am always putting my nose in the wrong place and trying to pick up crawly things in my mouth. So, I keep Maree pretty busy telling me No. Sometimes I wonder if that is why she named me Dino because it has her favorite word in the name.
After the storms we had this past week, my yard is carpeted with mulberry leaves giving the entire place a golden hue. I like running through the leaves, picking them up and tossing them in the air. I like the sound of them as I run through them, and I like the taste of them too. When I run, they reel crinkly under my feet.
Outside of my yard all of the hills are very green except where the farmers have plowed their fields and then there is a patchwork of browns and greens. While the olive trees still have all of their leaves, the grape vines are starting to lose theirs and many of the trees are already naked including the bitter almond tree across the street. Its bare branches reach toward the sky and I wonder if it is praying for a mild winter. I hear that last winter was pretty brutal. As a matter of fact, on the forty olive trees on our property, there is not one olive. And that is pretty typical of our area this year. Apparently, a storm in March killed off all of little buds that make the olives. But from what I hear, last winter was not as bad as the first winter Jim and Maree lived here. I hear them telling tales of a Siberian winter where it snowed every day for three weeks. I am a California dog, so I am not sure what snow is, but I am pretty sure that I don't want it to snow that much. Maybe I will need to buy a coat and boots soon. I think I saw a little frost on the grass this morning, so winter is definitely coming and I don't mean on HBO.
From my yard, I can see several hill towns, but the closest is Rosora where some of Maree and Jim's friends live and where we go to dinner a lot at Vittoria Il Graditempo. Alessia, the owner, is very nice, and she speaks English so I can understand her. It is a windy road to get to her restaurant, and I don't like being out on that road at night. I think I don't like all of that nothingness that surrounds us as we drive along streets with very few houses and no street lights. I am always wondering what is out there hiding in the dark and thinking a wild boar is going to run out in front of us any minute. There is one thing I do like about living in this very dark and sparsely populated area though. I can see the stars - millions of them. I never knew there were so many stars in the sky. Something called the milky way is very visible overhead and now I can spot the big dipper. Soon maybe I will learn more of the constellations. I am particularly interested in locating the dog star.
I have to go now. Some truck just pulled up in front of the house with a box. I hope it is full of dog treats. I have to run and bark now.
Hoping to see you again soon,
Your Pal in Italy, Dino
I heard about your accident and that your cast has been taken off. I hope your leg is as good as new and we can run and play together sometime again. I really enjoyed the day we were able to get together in California. It was so much fun to wrestle and run with you. You are really fast, well, almost as fast as me.
Now, I am far away, sister, very far away. So far that I had to fly in a plane to get here. That was an experience that I didn't really enjoy so much as it was almost like being in a cage. I had no space to move and I just had to be still and quiet. If there is one thing that I really don't like and that makes me nervous it is being confined. Maree held me the whole way though, so I was not too nervous. I must admit that I do like all of the cuddling - but don't tell anybody because I don't think boys are supposed to like that.
Lately my days in Italy, my new home, have been pretty boring. There has been a lot of rain and fog. The fog here is very weird. Our house sits on a little hill with valleys on both sides and the fog starts in the valleys and rolls up the hill making the entire world grey and invisible. It rolls very fast and quiet more like a panther than little cats feet. It makes the world so silent too almost like you are wearing ear muffs or had cotton in your ears or something. And, you can't see anything. It is eerie, and when I go out into the fog at night, I am very cautious because I don't know what strange creatures might be lurking behind a tree or outside of the fence. Did I tell you that I saw two porcupines the other night. Boy, those spikes they carry look pretty awesome, but I would not want to get into a fight with them.
It is hunting season here, and sometimes I see hunting dogs running down the road or down below in the field. They have this funny baying sound. They must be speaking in Italian because I can't understand what they are saying. They all just ignore me. I guess they have something more important on their minds. I hear they are looking for wild boar which live in the woods down below the house. I have not seen a wild boar yet, but sometimes at night I think I might hear their sounds. I don't think I would like being a wild boar. Living in the woods is not my idea of a good time and being chased by those dogs and men with guns is definitely not my preferred lifestyle. In a way, I feel sorry for them. They are just trying to live and raise their young. But apparently they eat all of the farmers grapes and crops and then there will be nothing for anyone to eat and of course, there will be no wine. I have never tasted wine, but I know Maree and Jim like it a lot. I hear wild boar are very fierce. So if I ever see one, I just hope that I am much faster than it is.
I am keeping in shape by running circles around in the yard, but it is just not the same as being chased around in the dog park. My friend Louie was really fast, so I always had to run my best to keep up with him. Now I have no competition, so I don't know if I am slowing down. After all, I am one year old now, so maybe I am slowing down? I am really not sure how a one year old is supposed to act. I still feel like a puppy, but am I supposed to be acting grown up now? Well, I have no one here to ask, so I will just go with however I am feeling at the moment. Perhaps I will enjoy acting like a grown up one day, but for now, it is full speed ahead, chew everything, bark a lot, get as much attention as possible, and never let them catch you.
I don't know how long hunting season lasts here, but I hope it is not too long because I don't like the sounds of gun shots even if they are far away. It is certainly strange seeing men walking down the street with guns. I always bark at them. I hope they get the idea that I don't approve of them walking down my street, past my house, carrying loaded weapons. Of well, at least since we put the barrier up across the street, they are not parking right in front of our house.
Since I am so bored during this period of rain and fog, I have taken up a new hobby. I search for rocks and try to eat them. They really don't taste very good though. I prefer the taste of the patio furniture. But grass and twigs are still my favorite, and with the rain and wind that we had, there are a lot of new twigs in the yard just waiting for me to eat them.
Yesterday, the boredom was interrupted by some people from Holland coming to look at the house. The realtor lady was very nice and went out in the yard to throw the ball for me. I know she did this to shut me up because all I was doing was barking and barking at the people. Well the couple looking at the house was very tall. I think the man was going on 7 feet tall and his wife was tall too. The man had a camera and was taking a lot of photos. I don't like cameras. I don't know why. Perhaps it is because they get pointed at me. Or maybe it is because I don't really understand what they are for. Anyway, the man took lots of pictures of the house and he did not once take a picture of me. I guess all of that barking was good for something if it kept me from having my picture taken. I really am camera shy.
I hear we have two new brothers and sisters now. I bet they are very cute. Maybe one day I will get to meet them. I hope you are enjoying them. Say hi to Mom and Dad.
All the best from Italy,
Your big brother, Dino
I know that yesterday was Halloween, but I did not see one person in a costume. Halloween is not such a big deal here in Italy, apparently. But I do hear that it is becoming more of a holiday. The man who started the slow food movement, something of which I am learning and very supportive of, said that the one thing America has given to Italy is Halloween and he said this with some disdain. Well, I must admit that I don't really like the holiday much anyway because I think the masks would be pretty scary.
Even though there were no trick or treaters here, I had a very busy day following a pretty busy night. The night before we went to visit Maree and Jim's friends, Giuseppe and Graziella. As we were driving down our little road in the dark (you can't imagine how dark it is here with no street lights and very few houses}, these creatures ran out in front of the car. They spread out these very large sharp spike like things which were pretty awesome to look at, but I would not want to get close to them. I think these things are called Porcupines. I never saw one in California, thank goodness. Now at night when I go out in the yard, I keep looking around to see if I see any little eyes shining back at me. Don't worry, if I do, I will run as fast as I can into the house.
Anyway, after a short ride through the dark streets, we arrived at Giuseppe and Graziella's house. They have a little dog named Ercole (or Hercules in English). He seemed very nice and I really wanted to play with him, but his family was concerned that he is very jealous and he might bite me, so every time we started to play they yelled at him. He finally just disappeared much to my regret. Maybe next time I go there we can play. He is old though, so I guess I can't play with him like you and I played.
Today, I think I spent most of the day in the car going from one place to another. First we drove to a winery to buy some olive oil and something called sfuso which seemed to come from the same machine as when you put gas in the car. It smelled like wine though, and so I guess that is what it was -- after all it was a winery. But what do I know about wineries. Well, I have been to quite a few in California, but this was very different. There weren't crowds and hostesses and waiters trying to help you. As a matter of fact, when we entered, we were basically the only people there. It looked more like a store than a tasting room, but Maree and Jim did taste the sfuso stuff before they bought any. I think they asked for the Verdicchio which is a wine they talk about a lot.
After the winery, we went to a store that had a lot of things for me. But, unfortunately, they never seem to buy those gigantic bones I really want to take home. Instead, they keep looking for some dog food (yuck) in a bag. When will they learn that I do not intend to eat that stuff. Oh well, they did buy me some treats that looked pretty good.
When we left this store, we got on a big road called a superstrada and then went to the Autostrada which is even bigger. It actually had three lanes going in one direction. You have to pay to ride on the Autostrada. They have these little machines before you enter where you take tickets and then you have to stop and pay before you can get off. Mostly, you can just pay a machine, and the machine talks to you. It tells you how much you owe and then says thank you, well, Grazie in Italian, before you leave. But one time there was a real person who took our ticket and our money. They said Grazie too. I am learning a little bit of Italian. But people speak so fast it is very difficult to distinguish the words they are saying.
From the autostrada, we drove to a little town called Sirolo. It sits up on a big hill above the ocean. It was all narrow little cobble stone streets and old buildings. But there was a very big square where they had restaurants and ice cream stores. It was a pretty cool place and I hope we go back there one day soon. I liked looking out at the water and at the mountain that came down to the sea like in Big Sur in California. But what I liked best was the restaurant. We sat next to two Italian men who shared some of their fish with me. I wanted more, but I had to wait until Maree shared a little bit of something called a shrimp. That was pretty amazing. I don't usually get people food in the restaurants, so this was a real treat for me, and I think I really like fish. I hope they make me some at home one day.
After lunch, we still weren't finished shopping, so we stopped at a little shopping center where we went to another pet store called Zoodom. Again, I did not get anything I really wanted but we left with a bag of some kind of dog food - yuck. Maree went to another store and bought some jeans. Jim went to another store and bought nothing. Finally, we went back to the car and got back on the autostrada. It was a very busy day, and I was too tired to eat my dinner when we got home.
I think I am getting a little bit used to riding in the car and going all around. It is fun to see new places. I like to check out all of the smells, and Sirolo smelled pretty good. A mixture of dog, flowers, and the sea. I hear that we will be going to Bologna in December. It is a big town, and so I am sure it will smell good too. They are talking about taking a train there. It will be my first train ride, and I don't know if I will like it or not, but I guess I will have to learn to like it if I am to be an Italian dog.
It is raining here this morning and is supposed to rain for about a week. I wish I could send some of this water to you. I think this will be a lazy day, and I am looking forward to spending some time in my old stone house in Poggio San Marcello.
Say hello to my friends at the dog park. I am so missing everyone and my daily playtime. It is just not the same without some friends to play with.
Bye for now,
Your friend, Dino
I am wondering what you are doing today in California and if you are still enjoying warm and sunny weather and trips to the park to play with our friends. The sun has finally appeared here today, and I am so very happy to go outside in my yard and forage for sticks, leaves and other green things.
Unfortunately, Maree is a little worried about leaving me out in the yard now because this morning she had to take three ticks off of me. I had never seen a tick before and really don't know what they are. Whatever they are, they weren't really bothering me, except for the one on my cheek which is all swollen. Maree was a little freaked out and had a lot of emails with an Italian vet, Gianluca, about whether this is a problem here. Apparently, there really is not something called Lyne disease in Le Marche, where we live, and other tick borne illnesses are fairly rare in dogs. She gave me some Benadryl for the swelling, but I know she is still worried about tick born diseases. Me, I feel fine and I am not worried about little things that I can barely see - at least they were not those little black deer ticks I heard so much about in California.
As a matter of fact, I felt so good this morning that when the front door was opened, I went flying out and into the street in front of the house. This street is not like the street in front of our old house in California which was wide and paved. This is more like a path covered in stones and with some very delightful herbs growing out of it. As a matter of fact I pulled out some of the herbs and had a nice mid-morning snack while I was out there.
Maree, however, started to freak out and tried to get me to co. But this is my game and, of course, I just raced around in the street and in the field while she called me in a most distressed voice. It sounded like she was really worried and afraid, but it did not bother me. The more she tried to entice me to come, the further afield I roamed. Those weeds were pretty tasty and I really liked the chase game we were playing.
Finally, she decided to leave me alone, or so I thought. Then she let out this blood curdling scream. I did not know what to do, so I just sat there. Then she ran toward the house and screamed again. Now I was wondering exactly what this was all about, but she seemed fine, and I did not want to be tricked into going into the house. So when she looked over her shoulder toward me, I ran further away. After all, who wants to listen to a grown woman screaming her head off. On the third scream, however, I must admit that my curiosity was getting the best of me, so I walked over to the end of the driveway just in front of the house. I could see her standing inside the door and looking at me. She was jsut waiting for me to get close so she could capture me. Now, I knew this was just some ploy to get me to come back in the house, but I was not ready. I was enjoying the freedom I never had before. There is so much room to run and play here, especially when I am not in the fenced in yard, and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. Finally, however, she assumed an unfair advantage. Treats will be my downfall. She tempted me with these great chewy treats with beef in them, and told me she would give me green beans if I came back in the house. If it weren't for those irresistible treats and green beans which are my favorite, I would probably still be running around the field and pulling out various grasses by the roots. I do find those tender roots to be rather enjoyable.
This experience, however, taught me a lesson. And it will be more difficult to catch me next time. I can resist treats, I can resist treats, I can resist treats. Well, I will just keep telling myself that until maybe I believe it.
I do feel a little remorse about making Maree so upset, however, and I am still not at all aware why my behavior should so upset her. Maybe I will understand when I am older.
Have a great day today, Louie.
Your Pal in Italy, Dino
Yesterday was a very lazy day here. It rained most of the day, but I did get out for a walk in the early morning before the rain started. I met a little dog that looked a lot like you, but she was a girl which made her even more interesting. She was just five days older than me. We both really wanted to play and chase, but there was a gate in between us and the owner did not offer to open it and let us play. I tried to get his attention by jumping around and barking, but he just ignored me. So all we could do was rub noses and smell each other through the gate. Maybe one day, when he sees how good I am, he will let me in to play.
Maree and I got home just before the rain started. It seems it rains a lot more here than in California. They even have something here that we call rainbows in California, but they call them arcoballene here. As we were leaving for lunch, the sky turned black and the rain come down hard. I got carried to the car, so I did not get too wet and get my feet dirty. I am starting to get more used to the car as we have been riding somewhere every day.
The roads here don't have much traffic which I like a lot and most of them only have two lanes - one in each direction. There is not all of that stop and go traffic we have in California, but the roads are very windy and we seem to travel a lot slower everywhere we go. Luckily, the windy roads do not seem to bother me. I have actually become quite the good co-pilot, standing up in Maree's lap in the front seat and looking out the windshield. I have not gotten sick once even on the four hour trip from the Rome airport. Maybe I just like Alfa Romeos better than Mini Coopers.
Lunch is a big thing here I am learning as we seem to go out to lunch every day. Today we went back to a place I had been before where there is a little dog and a cat. There were so many people here for Sunday lunch, however, that neither made an appearance much to my disappointment. They were the smart ones, however, as It was very crowded and very loud. I think we were sitting next to a table that was a soccer team and they were really enjoying all of the pasta and something called wine which the more they drank the louder they got. The server stepped on me and she did not even have the courtesy to say she was sorry. I hope we did not give her a tip. I did get to have some pets from some children on my way out, and that was the best part of the lunch for me -- except for the treats, of course.
When we got home, all we could do was to sit, sit, sit, sit. And I did not like that a bit. I tried to get someone to play with me, but all they wanted to do was to watch something called The Big Bang Theory on the computer monitor. So, I had a nice long nap. Then the rain seemed to stop for a while and I went out and sat in the wet grass. I had some to eat. It was wet and sweet, and I ate some more. Napping apparently makes you very hungry. But eating too much grass and twigs doesn't sit too well in the stomach I am finding. So, I came in and took another nap.
Later than night, before I went to bed, I went back out in the yard again. I was very happy to go out as I had been holding it for a long while, crossing my legs. So when the door opened, I flew out in a hurry. I now have a favorite spot right next to the rose bush, but sometimes I go to the very back of the yard under the Mulberry tree. At night, though, there is not too much light out there so I stay closer to the house. On the patio I saw this little something move just to the left of the doorway. I moved closer to check it out and it jumped at me. I jumped back and the hair on my back started to come up. I thought I better proceed with caution, so I wiggled my nose to get a smell. Then I moved slowly and with caution a little bit closer to get a better look. What is this thing with those long back legs that jumps so high and far? I had never seen anything like it. I moved a little closer still to get a better scent, but it scurried behind a planter box. I heard Maree say, "oh, a toad", so I guess that is what it was. Although if the fairy tales are true, then perhaps it was a prince in disguise. Either way, I think I will keep away from them. They don't smell very good and I don't like their looks. They don't look like they would be good to eat. Well, maybe those long legs might be tasty, but I don't think I will be trying any any time soon. I was just glad it moved away from the door so I could go in the house where it was dry and there weren't jumping creatures.
I hope you are having fun at the dog park. Say hi to all of my California friends for me.
All the best from Italy,
I am somewhere very different than our home in California. I hear people say Italia, which I think means Italy. But they don't talk the same way. I am having a very difficult time understanding them. By now, I can understand Ciao and vieni qua which means to come, but the rest is Greek to me. I knew I was going on a grand adventure and to someplace far away, but I did not know that it would involve flying, long rides in cars, limos, and trains. I have now ridden elevators and escalators, but I do not like crossing these thresholds. Maybe this fear goes back to some age old rite but I do not know.
The plane ride was very long. Frankly, I am not exactly sure what flying is even though I have now had two different flights. All I know is that I got into this tin can like object, sat in a little seat squished between two other little seats, and there I sat in Maree's lap for more than 8 hours. Sometimes it was a little bumpy, but mostly it was just noisy with a constant humming sound. For the most part, I did not even know we were moving, but they say we were higher than 30,000 feet in the air. I guess that is higher than the bed and I don't think I would want to jump down from there. I must admit that I did enjoy the 8 hours of cuddling a little bit, but I had cramps in my legs and I really had to pee by the time they opened the doors and let us off. Like the good dog that I am, I held it and held it. I even had to keep holding it while we got our suitcases from some thing that kept going round and round and then I had to wait to go through customs - whatever that is. No one ever asked about me even though I had lots of papers too.
When we arrived in downtown Rome, I had my second night in a hotel. I had spent one night in a hotel in Philadelphia on the way to Italy. I don't think I am too fond of hotels as I can't bark, and there are always noises outside of the door to bark at. The hotel in Rome was very old and we had a lot of windy stairs to climb to get to our room. The room was pretty little and old, but it was okay for one night and the lady at the front desk was very nice showing us how to open the front door with the key so we would not be locked out of the hotel if no one was at the front desk. Next to the hotel was a little restaurant. The man there tried to introduce me to his dog, but she tried to bite me. I did not hold this against the man who took my picture the next day before we left.
Our first afternoon in Rome, I had my first restaurant meal at a restaurant in Campi di Fiori called La Carbonnara. You know I have been to many restaurants in California, but usually all I get is some of those treats from a package and maybe some bread. This time, however, the chef cooked me a steak for my lunch or maybe it was breakfast. I am still a little confused about the time since I seem to have lost 9 hours. We were only in Rome for one night, and some of that time was spent napping since we flew all night to get there and we were all very tired and suffering from something they call jet lag.
The funny thing about Rome, was that everywhere I walked I smelled dogs. It was an olfactory heaven, and I knew the city was full of four legged friends. Every building had been marked. But I only saw two dogs during the time I was there and neither of them were friendly. As a matter of fact, they both tried to bite me. I think someone needs to teach these dogs some manners.
So far, I have not made any new friends and I have not been to any dog parks. People here don't seem to want to let their dogs say hello. Maybe all of the dogs are mean here. The people, on the other hand, all seem very nice. I have met lots of children and gotten lots of hugs and pets. I must admit that I am relishing the attention. But I still don't like it when an adult lunges at me to pet me. I'd prefer it if they would just let me approach them which I generally end up doing so I can lick their hands to see what they have been eating. Hands here do not taste like hands in California. They taste more like real food, not fast food and things from bags.
My new house has a big yard, but only part of it is fenced and I am not allowed to just run free because I don't come when called. And it is hunting season and dogs and men with guns are around. But I am having fun running around in the fenced in part. There are lots of branches and grass to eat there, and I like the mulberry leaves. I am thinking of going into the silk business.
I heard gun shots this morning and I was a little worried. I perked up my ears and started running around. Then I did a lot of barking to chase the bad guys away. It did not seem to work, however as I heard more shots about an hour later. I saw a big hunting dog running down the hill, but he ignored my invitation to play. As a matter of fact, he totally ignored me. I was rather surprised since I make friends so easily, but I guess he had more important things to tend to like finding the wild boar.
I have heard that there are wild boar around. I have never seen one and I am not sure what they are, but whenever I hear the word, it sends a chill down my spine and I know that I really don't want to meet one. They live in the woods down the hill and sometimes at night I hear this eerie calling that I think must be them. I think they are just trying to scare everyone away, or maybe they are practicing for Halloween night that is coming up soon.
Well, I think it is time for my nap as I have eaten more than my share of grass and other things in the yard. I will write to you again soon.
Your Friend, Dino
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.