Then one night driving back to our Cosona agriturismo in the dark of night, my headlights came upon a heard of sheep huddled near the roadside. I stopped to take a photo and out of the darkness we heard growling and barking from two sheep dogs. They were the white fluffy type--which are raised with the sheep as puppies. They think they ARE sheep, and do anything to protect their flock. Again, no shepherd, just the dogs doing their job.
Most dogs in Italy are just pets. City dogs are usually tiny and leashed or carried. Many are cute. Lucas had a great time getting to know some of them. One of his favorites are the pugs we met in Matera we call the "Twins", although the owner said they weren't related. I imagine their real names are Francesco and Marcos. They look very Italian with their old man, social club, people-watching persona.
In towns and cities you see many small lap dogs--small like everything else in Italy, perhaps due to the small apartments and homes. These dogs have personalities similar to the owners--some vibrant, others sweet and lazy, a few fat, all have an eye out for trouble, many are stubborn but all with those deep, passionate Italian eyes--like Giancarlo Gianinni has.
However, I did see few owners of incredibly cute fluffy dogs treat them badly--smacking, hitting and even kicking to stop bad behavior. (Dog Whisperer where are you?) There was one "lady"--a mom--we saw in Vinci while having gelati... she was gabbing to her friend as she was walking and tripped over her little white dog, threw a fit and smacked him for tripping her! Even her kids had that same tail-between-their-legs look about them. Some people!
In Italy dogs are pretty much allowed everywhere--even in cafes and restaurants. There are some rules, although I don't think anyone cares about rules for dogs. For example, many towns have some pretty serious dog poop problems. I stepped in dog poop a few times, Lisa only once, but Lucas was luckier--few people seem to pick up after their pets. I've read that in cash strapped Naples, one new scheme for drumming up money is to start keeping a DNA database of dogs and then testing DNA in dog poop so they can hit owners up for fines as high as 700 bucks! No kidding. (Check it out here.) If they can't get the city workers to pick up the garbage, how are they going to get anyone to pick up after their dogs? People don't care because the government allows their city to remain filthy. And how many poop DNA inspectors would they need to hire? How are they going to get DNA samples of each and every one of the estimated 80,000 dogs pooping on the streets of Naples? How about trying to stop the humans in Naples from peeing on the streets? That would be progress indeed!
Dog houses. I didn't see any like we have in the States, but I did see masonry ones. A dog has a nice life when he has fancy villa style digs in the courtyard of a villa or castle. It might be cold inside, but then again, this is Italy where a cool floor might help a dog get by during the Dog Days of October...
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