Thursday, October 13, 2005

Rule #3

Rule #3 Watch Your Step

Our apartment is just outside of downtown Florence in a charming neighborhood. Just a short stroll down a secluded side street leads to a large park. I noted on my charming walk this morning that in the charming gutter rested two charming syringes, needles intact.

But I don’t want to linger on the rampant heroin use engineered by organized crime that plagues this town and is the reason why people even chain their flower pots (I’ve seen this) to their barred windows. The park, Villa Strozzi, is a haven of natural beauty and a godsend for us dog walkers. It also appears to be a godsend for the junkies, too. But let’s not speak of that, here, or of all the used syringes piled around the sand box that are swell makeshift squirt guns for the kiddies,

Contrary to our initial impression, not all of the dogs romping in the park near our apartment are named, “Donnie”. Those sneaky Italian dog owners tried to trick us into thinking this was so. When they saw us coming over the syringe littered hill, they commanded their dogs to retrieve sticks and such by calling, “Da mi.” over and over and over. Almost had us fooled, too, until we tried calling our dog, “Donnie” and she picked up a stick and trotted up to us obediently ‘cause her Italian is better than ours. So, if you see a cute dog on the street, give it a pat on the noggin, smile, say, “Da mi”, and give the owner a little wink to let her know that you are in on the joke, too.

One remarkable thing about Florence is that you can take your dog pretty much anywhere: into the central market, into the bakery, into the bank, into the seedy apartment of the guy you buy your heroin from. At my local bar if a dog comes in before 10 AM, they are given a free doggie biscuit and cappuccino to wash it down. This national permissiveness for dogs is a good thing if it is simply impossible to consider spending a year apart from your precious Rover or Rex or, in our insane case, Rahima (just who is the master over whom, here, anyway?) and are insanely determined that you must bring your dog with you from the States.

However, the Italian acceptance of dogs is a bad thing if you don’t give a shit about dogs. This is because the dogs give a shit but the Florentine dog owners do not appear to give a shit about picking up. In other words, keep your radar trained to the pavement. Not only will this keep your shoes clean, but if someone happens to come at you with a squirt gun you are sure to be able to find a few used syringes at your feet to use in self-defense.

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