December 24, 2018
Dear Santa Paws,
It is Christmas eve here in Italy, and the fog is rolling in again in Poggio San Marcello. My yard now looks very spooky - more a Halloween setting than a Christmas card. The naked trees are waving their branches in the wind, their dark frames silhouettes against a gun metal grey sky. I sit here by the door not sure whether I want to go outside or stay in. This morning it had been nice and clear, but the fog rolls in very fast here and very unexpectedly. I am pretty sure there was no fog in the weather forecast for today, so I hope you will be prepared.
As I watch the fog obscure the hills and valleys, I am starting to wonder if you will be able to find my house in this weather. Does your sleigh have fog lights? Is it pulled by reindeer or sled dogs? If you have reindeer, does Rudolph have a special nose light for the fog? Even in good weather, it is hard to find my house. There are no street numbers on any of the houses on my street. And there are actually two streets that run parallel to each other (well as parallel as any streets could run in Italy) that have the same name. Amazon deliveries sometimes never arrive, so I hope you have good and up to date GPS. Well, honestly, I hope you have something better than GPS because sometimes GPS does not work in Italy according to Jim and Maree.
When you do arrive at my house, will you come down the chimney? I hope you will find another entrance because the fire is burning there now and I think it will still be hot. But I guess as all things magical, it will not matter to you. You must go down lots of hot chimneys on your voyage around the world to give presents to all of the good little dogs - and big dogs too. I am leaving you some dog biscuits and a greenie by the Christmas tree. I want you to know that I hold the Christmas tree sacred and I have not touched one ornament or branch on the tree. Well, if it was a real tree I might have had a harder time resisting it, but since it is artificial, I have shown a great deal of self restraint. I hear it is almost impossible to find a real Christmas tree here.
Santa Paws, I have been very excited all week about your visit. I think I have been a good boy this year, or at least I have tried to be a good boy. So I hope you reward effort not only outcome. You know, sometimes it is hard to be good when there are so many things to get into and chew up. And when you have so much free time. But, I have abstained from chewing furniture and shoes and books - things that my predecessors have been blamed for. I did, however, chew the siding on the house in California. But I was only a baby then, and I am so much more mature now. Well, mostly more mature. I have tried a little of the stone from this house, but I don't like it near as much as the mulberry leaves and branches. You know, it is hard to be good when you are in need of exercise and attention.
Both Jim and Maree have been sick over the last week, and so I have pretty much had to fend for myself except at meal times. Unfortunately, the doctor told Maree today to stay home instead of going to Christmas lunch at our friend. Graziella's house. I was so looking forward to seeing her dog, Ercole, again. At 12, he is rather old for me to play with, but he seemed nice the one time I met him. So, we will just be home alone for Christmas day. I hope you can bring me something to alleviate my boredom. Something very chewable, tasty, and interesting. Of course, the best thing you could bring me would be a friend, like one of my new brothers and sisters, but unfortunately, I know that another dog does not exactly fit into Maree's plans right now. And I might be somewhat jealous anyway as I do so like to curl up in a lap or snuggle up in the bed. Of course, last night I did a little more than snuggle up in the bed, I ate a tiny hole in the comforter cover. OOPS, I did not mean to let anyone know that I did it. So, Santa Paws, can this be our secret?
Even though Maree and Jim have been sick, they had to go to the police station twice this week to try to get their permesso di soggiorno. That means their permission to stay here, like a green card in the US. They had to take the receipt they received from submitting their applications at the post office a couple of weeks ago. When they arrived they were asked for their passports and their expired Italian documents, and then they had to have fingerprints. Well, that does not sound so bad, but Maree was a little nervous as in the US, the FBI rejected every set of fingerprints she submitted. So, she was not expecting a good outcome. Here instead of paper and ink, they did the fingerprints using a electronic device, so you can tell if the print is acceptable right away. The woman had to redo lots of Maree's fingers many times, but finally she did get readable prints. The very next day, we had to go back for more fingerprints and whole hand prints. These were done by a different person with a different machine. I don't understand why everything could not be done at the same time, but apparently, that is not the way it is done here. Again, a number of fingers had to be done several times, but I guess they were finally good enough as we were able to leave. During this entire ordeal, I was very good. I just sat like a perfect gentleman next to Maree and Jim and I never made a sound. I was anxiously awaiting my turn to get my paw prints. Well, that never happened. I am rather put off however that no one asked for my paw print. I guess they don't care if I have a criminal background. Well, what they don't know won't hurt them as they say. And besides, there is nothing to find our anyway, Santa. Really, I belong on the good dog list.
Santa Paws, I hope you have a good journey this year. Watch out for those Apennine Mountains just west of us as you come in to land at my house. And be prepared for a hot fireplace. I'll be listening for your sleigh bells.
Merry Christmas to All,
Your Pal, Dino
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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.