Have you ever heard of the phrase ‘la dolce vita’? I’m sure you did! It translates from Italian as ‘the sweet life’ and literally means the good life, full of pleasure and indulgence. To make it clear, we’re not going to talk about any decadent activities that some boring adults find fun just because they don’t have a dog. We’re going to talk about a simple routine familiar to most of our readers: The Bright and Early Morning Walk. Because I believe in you, and I know you give your dog regular and fulfilling walks. (I’m watching you, the lazy owner!)
So, why did I mention la dolce vita in regard to dogs? Let me share a story with you. This morning my dog and I got out of the house and headed to the center. At the moment we live in Italy in a small coastal town with around 70 thousands residents, 15 minutes away from the main square. The experience made me realize that we are so lucky to be living such a sweet life. Why?
The thing is when you live in a truly dog-friendly society, your time as a dog owner becomes much less complicated and your dog lives a better, healthier life.
You both go through less stress, less harassment (yes, dog owners get it as well) and spend more quality time together. Isn’t it what every dog owner wants and every dog needs: keeping the pack tight and scavenging for tasty food, coffee, and shopping list tick-offs? I hope you’re feeling the vibe! Obviously, don’t forget to combine it with traditionally ‘doggy’ activities like playing fetch, exploring local nature or getting sweaty doing tug-of-war with your buddy.
I am going to describe my experience in the present tense so both our readers and I can use it for positive visualizations when needed. Unfortunately, not all of us live in a dog-friendly environment and sometimes it’s good to remind oneself that things can and should be better!
We enter the historical center. It’s around 9 am and all the shops, cafes, etc. are open and buzzing with life. Every few steps we meet people with dogs, big and small. Some people are sitting in cafes, but most are enjoying their morning coffee outside, occupying tables in the shadow. What matters most, it doesn’t matter where you want to sit, your dog is welcome absolutely everywhere!
Most dogs are kept on the lead: some of them pull, some of them pant, some are poster dogs for good behavior. You won’t see a single muzzled mutt. People trust their dogs and dogs trust their environment. A large mongrel dog is passing by and decides to bark at Mailo, an equally large mongrel. Mailo doesn’t respond but two tiny poodles in a nearby cafe do. No one pays attention. Dogs bark sometimes and people don’t care. As you chat a bit too loud sometimes, they bark all of a sudden.
Later on, we meet a young American Pit Bull Terrier, the legendary breed despised and banned by so many. His slender yet muscular body and red nose are complemented by a pair of semi-erect years and a large pink mouth with a tongue out. He is accompanied by a middle-aged man, calmly walking out of a stationery shop where he has just bought something. Guess what? No one is calling the police, no women with children yelling. Peace. Italy has no breed legislation laws, all dogs are declared equal. If you stay in Italy long enough you can meet Dogo Argentino as well. That famous breed some ‘civilized’ countries are ready to put down just because. (Read this happy ending story if you want to know more!)
We also meet a Staffordshire Bull Terrier girl leaving the post office and a couple of American Staffordshire Terriers. Yes, they can pull sometimes. But so do German Shepherds and Jack Russel Terriers and an elderly (yet energetic) French Bulldog. Somewhere near a big cafe, a Collie gets overly excited on the sight of a Labrador. There are countless small and medium-sized mongrel dogs that we meet. People adopt dogs a lot here.
I need to do some hygiene and beauty products shopping, so we enter a cosmetics supermarket. Cashier lady welcomes us saying “your dog looks hot, he will definitely appreciate the air conditioning.” Oh yes, madame, he will!
Mailo slowly directs me to the pet food department but I have to let him know that he has to assist me with choosing a shampoo. He gives up and follows me. We meet some children who are happy to see ‘such a big dog’. We reach the check out line and Mailo drops on the floor, stretching out a bit too much to enjoy the cold floor. People waiting in the line sympathize with him and complement his calm demeanor. Mailo is a 35 kg tall black mongrel who happens to be chilling in the middle of everything and everyone is happy about it. I love this town!
We decide to leave the center, walking along an ancient Roman wall that leads us out. We cross the little park built along the canal and finally reach the area where we live. We meet more dogs on the way, clearly!
The result? Mailo had a long walk, I did the necessary shopping and received a dose of positive energy to carry on with my schedule. What a sweet life! Easy like a Sunday morning.
Dog-friendly society consists of adequate people and normal dogs. Dogs don’t have to be perfect to be accepted as of equal importance. At the same time, a responsible dog owner would not take their dog out to a busy public space if the dog is not ok with it. They would take time to work on their dog’s issue. An adequate passerby would not freak out and yell if a random dog suddenly barks or growls at the other canine. Things like that happen. You can argue at the supermarket, can’t you?
Dog-friendly society starts with people, not with dogs. We are their leaders, and we have to lead them responsibly to a well-adjusted, safe society where they can be canine citizens, not commodities.
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