Italians, it seems, are crazy about dogs.
Every time we go for a walk, there is an incessant parade of puppies, doggies and dogs on the street with an adoring human walking behind them. Once, I counted seven dogs passing by us in the space of a minute.
All breeds and sizes are represented. And all seem absolutely adored and totally spoiled.
I became aware of this national obsession with dogs the first week-end after we moved to live in Italy. Out of all places that we could have visited that first Saturday in the Bel Paese, we chose to go to Ikea. I know!
Well, our flat was full with boxes stuffed with our belongings and we urgently needed some home-related things plus babyproofing components. So, we went to Ikea, where among the throng of shoppers and amid the vast showrooms were dogs. Quite a few of them. Some were wheeled around in the shopping trolleys…
…whereas others were patiently waiting for their humans to make up their minds about swatches.
The dogs felt right at home and no-one (apart from me) batted an eyelid at them being there, which confirmed my impression that unlike the UK and Bulgaria, dogs are actually welcome in shops in Italy.
Since then I have come across many a dog in many a shop. Like this tiny little pooch in a tights shop in Verona.
And this fabulous dog accompanying his master to the phone shop.
Often dogs are not just visitors to the shops. Quite a few shop owners take their pets with them to work every morning.
I have seen a dog spending his days at leisure in a hairdresser’s salon, a dog quietly sniffing the books in a bookshop run by his devoted lady owner and a dog who actually spends every day in a funeral shop. Have a look below, if you don’t believe me.
This adorable little doggie is a big attraction in a local fitness centre. He is always perched on top of the reception desk and lets you pet him.
During the hot months many shops leave a bowl filled with water on the pavement in front of their premises. This is for passing dogs, so that they can have a drink when the sun gets too much.
If the shop doesn’t admit dogs (because it is a grocer’s, for example), there usually is a polite note on the door with the picture of a furry friend and the words ‘Io non posso entrare’ (I can’t come in) in Italian affixed to the door.
In such cases, sometimes the shop provides a place for people to tie their dogs whilst they are doing their shopping inside.
But some dogs are so well behaved, they simply wait for their owner to come out of the shop without the need to be tied up.
In winter dogs in Italy are as fashionably dressed as their style-conscious owners. Little jumpers and even puffa jackets are deployed to make sure that man’s best friend is kept warm and cozy.
Look at this great onesie. It has a hood, too!
When two dogs meet, their owners meet, too. In other words, they smile, stop and have a quick chat, whilst their pets get acquainted with each other. Cooing over the other dog is totally permitted.
People are genuinely happy if you approach them and ask them about their dog. Seeing my baby getting super excited and repeating ‘Doggy! Doggy!’, dog owners often come to us and ask if she wants to pet their dog.
I have to admit that I have always been a cat person at heart, but seeing all these cuties on a daily basis around Vicenza in particular and in Italy as a whole, is slowly starting to convince me that yes, my husband has been right all along and we should get a dog one day.