34. Dog Days

Going back to Pompeii, Italians are as dog crazy as Americans are. 22% of Italians are dog-owners, which translates into nearly 7 million dogs, both working and pets.

The sheep farm we visited had at least ten shepherding dogs that I counted, although some seemed to be working harder than others. This included a month-old shepherd-dog-in-training. All seemed perfectly willing to be sociable with humans, as long as we didn’t get too close to their charges.

I didn’t take photos of all the cute dogs I saw on the streets, because, frankly, if I started down that path, I could have clogged up my photo stream with thousands. But here’s how the dog situation in Italy seemed different than the one in America.

In the US, dogs tend to spend all of their time with strict boundarieseither in houses or apartments, on leashes, or in dog parks. In Italy, it was not uncommon to see dogs walking down busy thoroughfares with their masters: unleashed, calmly enjoying stopping to socialize, watching the world go by, and being admired. In Italy, you see everyone out on the streets – the elderly, babies, teenagers, people in wheelchairs – everyone an equal and cherished part of the community. Why should the dogs be any different? Including eating gelato.

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