I like dogs enough. I’m not really what you’d call a “dog person”, although if a dog is well-behaved and non-intimidating I’m all for petting or playing. Plus, they can be damn cute sometimes. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll grow into really loving dogs. Hell, my parents, over the last few years, have gone off the deep end for dogs and now I have a new “sister” and 2 new “brothers” – Bella, Zio, and Fenway.
My Dad with the dogs (from left to right: Fenway, Bella, and Zio)
Italians, however, certainly seem to be dog people! It’s a good thing that I can get on well enough with dogs because they are EVERYWHERE here and people really let them do whatever they want. Dogz Rule n’ Ownerz Drool!
Dogs can be found in stores, in cafés, on the tram, and running around on the streets, parks, and beaches without leashes. Usually it’s not a problem although I sometimes find myself grumpily asking “Who’s friggin’ dog is this?”. In fact, it’s so common for dogs to be able to enter public spaces that some places have to put up specific “io non posso entrare” (I can not come in) signs to show that dogs are not welcome.
A doggie-tote on the subway in Milan. I’m ok with this. No running around disturbing passengers, well contained, and very cute!
The real problem with this, in my opinion, is not the fact that you might have to step out of the way to make room for a dog when you’d least expect it or guard your panino with your life. It’s poop. Yes, poop. The streets of Italy are a minefield of dog crap.
You can never really go for a carefree stroll in Italy without having to look where you’re walking from time to time. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been walking with someone and had to warn “Poop! Watch it!”. It’s no wonder that Italians believe that stepping on dog doo brings good luck. I mean, we may as well invent something positive about all the crap around town.
One time my friend told me she saw a woman step on dog crap on the marble sidewalks of Bologna. The woman skidded, slipped, and not only fell, but also had dog sh!t smeared up her entire leg. I don’t know how that poor woman reacted, but I would have killed the next dog and dog owner that I saw, even if they had nothing to do with the accident. I would’ve just completely lost it!
I must say that I have, very occasionally, actually seen an Italian dog owner pick up after their dog, which made me feel like stopping in my tracks, applauding, and saying “Brava, signora! Brava!”. To those who are responsible owners and pick up after their pets, I say “Grazie!”. To the rest of you bums, I say “Pick that up or I’ll feed it to ya!”