As venerable 'dog people', the last 10+ years of travel to Italy, inevitably entailed returning home with countless photos of random dogs in piazzas, in shops, and in front of historical sites. These dogs all carrying on about their day with their owners attached to the opposite end of their leashes. 'Tourist dogs' daytripping from other european locales, noses to the ground immersed in foreign smells; mixed in with 'local dogs' with heads held high, parading around tending to their daily routines.
Italy is a very dog-friendly place. Which is not entirely surprising as the Italian people are amongst the most friendly on the planet (IMHO having traveled extensively for work around the globe). The norm here is that dogs are welcome most everywhere - cafes, restaurants, bars, shops, grocery stores, parks, offices, you name it. It is very rare to come across a 'Cane Non Posso' sign. Dogs are generally welcomed with an excited greeting tantamount to that of a baby, "Canelino!!! Ce che?!? (Kahn-lay-LEE-nyo! Kay chay?) which is basically the same as for a baby, "Bambino!!! Ce che?!?". Dogs are without a doubt recognized as family here.
Perhaps that is inherently why we find Italy to be 'home'. As a family with a 'furkid', this is one place we are treated as a complete family unit. We can go, do, and be a family everywhere we chose to go. In fact, we have been here 37 days and have not once left Elliot, our westie, alone. This might seem odd to some, but to us, it's a welcome 'new normal'. Nevertheless, our gratitude ensures that we still ask, "Possa entrare il cane?" and be mindful of others reactions. With the heat of the summer swiftly approaching, it will be in Elliot's best interest to leave him home in the cool apartment. Then again, thanks to Pausa, perhaps it's best we all retreat to the cool apartment during the scorching sun afternoon hours.
A saying we have always heartily subscribed to is, 'Home is where your dog is'. It has always been our 'truth'. But here, in Italy, with Elliot here with us, the saying rings much more true. Here we are a complete family unit. Here, our hearts are together. Here, we can fall back on the original saying, 'Home is where your heart is'.