Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Country Gone to the Dogs (Letter #10 from Italy: April 27, 2013)

We have come to a country of dog-lovers; I am at home. Dogs here go everywhere with their owners – to markets, to restaurants and cafes, wandering the streets of the city. Almost without exception, the dogs are well behaved, friendly and gentle (I think it may simply be a factor of their contentment). 
Today we pass by a gated house with a sign: Attenti al Cane (Beware of Dog). Seeing us on the other side of the gate, a German Shepherd comes bounding toward us, tail wagging. He sits beside the sign (which pictures a ferocious dog) and looks at us with soulful eyes, oblivious to the irony.

 Cats here are a different story. They seem fiercely independent (even moreso than North American cats, although clearly I haven’t been scientific in my study. I’ve not sought out a random sample of cats in either location). Most of the cats we’ve seen have been strays, which may account for part of their indifference to humans. Like the dogs, they seem content, but their contentment seems to lie in their freedom rather than in any connection to people. Last night we passed a stray cat, walking along a brick wall above the city of La Spezia. I made the universal (I think) “psst…psst” cat call sound and reached my hand in his direction. I swear he looked over the edge of the wall, contemplated his chances of surviving the jump, and weighed it against the risk of me touching him. I decided to spare him having to choose to risk any of his lives, and moved along. When I looked back, he was continuing his independent journey. 

So I will give the Italian cats a wide berth, respecting their freedom and space. And I will continue to revel in a country devoted to its dogs, a species, much like the Italians themselves, with a gift for love.

No comments:

Post a Comment