Pick it up, pal

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” – BellaZio, 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!”

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23 thoughts on “Pick it up, pal

  1. Picking up your dog’s shit should be something normal, obvious. But nothing seems to be obvious in my country. In several Italian towns (thanks God not in Milan, where I live) it is quite common to see stray dogs wandering through the streets. What scares me most is Italian people’s reaction to this: «Beh, cosa c’è di strano? Non ti faranno paura?». Many Italians are hopeless!

    • Thanks for your prompt comment, Andrea! 😉

      I have heard about stray dogs wandering the streets, particularly in the south of Italy. In fact, I believe a child was even attacked and maybe killed by a stray dog a few summers ago…. davvero vergognoso!

      • This is so true in some parts of Sicily. I have been in towns where I have seen packs of stray and starving dogs roaming up and down the streets. Which brings me to the thing that annoys me. So many dogs, stray and cared for, have not been spayed or neutered. I can understand when someone has a show dog that they will later breed but a dog or cat that is just a pet should be fixed. That will, eventually take care of some of the problem of the strays. One of the reasons I was so impressed with the little town in which we bought our house (Cianciana) is that the people there seemed to take better care of their pets and there are very few stray animals to be seen. How we take care of the most vulnerable in our community says so much about the strength and health of the community.

      • Totally agree! I think the first time I ever saw a dog’s balls was in Italy. I was surprised that NOBODY fixes their pets. Why the hell not? What’s the point of your pet having babies that you can’t keep, so they wind up on the street adding to the rest of the strays…. It drives me crazy!

  2. You said it all Garrett. O dio, this is perhaps the only thing I don’t miss about Italy when I’m in Australia…. In fact I cannot help but think how my Italian friends would love it and laugh in disbelief at the constant – if disturbing – sight of dog walkers toting their charge’s mess in little plastic bags to the next bin. Or so one hopes. Anything though is preferable to the prospect that one day you too may fall victim to a slippery canine calling card. You’ll have gathered by now – I hear you! Let’s hope some Italian dog owners do too! 😉 Ma ho i miei dubbi…

  3. It seems the further south and east you go in Europe and beyond, the more street dogs you get. It’s strange, though. I didn’t notice that much poop on Turkish streets. Perhaps all Turkish mutts are trained to crap in the gutter!

  4. Maybe it is a regional habit? Here in Switzerland a lot of people won’t give a shit (huhu) to pick it up either… (though it’s not as serious a problem as in Paris, let’s face it)

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