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.