I know the British are supposed to be a nation of dog lovers but the Italians surely take the (dog) biscuit. They really love dogs. Everywhere I go, there are Italians – or their maids – walking a variety of tiny dachshunds, terriers and Chihuahuas (Google Chihuahua-husky mixes; they’re gorgeous. Like walking beanie-babies). I know very few people with a dog in England but am personally acquainted with four dachshunds here in Rome.
Dogs are accepted just about everywhere: cafes, bars, post offices, shopping malls, offices, operating theatres…possibly. It was rather disconcerting when a Yorkshire terrier poked his nose into my changing room in H&M – well, the first time anyway. If dogs go everywhere that humans do, then I guess that makes more sense when it goes the other way: the Dog Park at the end of my road is strangely popular with the local teenagers as a drinking/smoking/face-sucking venue. Maybe they can’t resist the allure of the heady fragrance of doggie droppings?
Which brings us onto the down side of all these dogs in Rome. Dog poo. Everywhere. Great big piles of it all over the pavement. It’s like England in the 1970s. Seriously, I spend any walk with my kids shouting, “Watch the dog poo! There! And there! Watch that huge one! Little bit on the edge! One in just in front of you! That one! Oh great, you’ve stepped in it.” Honestly, sometimes it’s just merda…
When the weather heats up, all this doggie waste heats up too and the smell rises up from the pavements in great wafts. I may start walking around with a posy under my nose like an Elizabethan lady to avoid being knocked out by the stench.
Apparently, it is illegal not to pick up your dog’s poop and most dogs I see have a little bone-shaped packet of plastic bags tied to their leads. And I have yet to see an owner not picking up their dog’s doings. But, believe me, either lots of owners are getting away with not picking up the poo under the cover of darkness or there’s one single dog out there on a mission to personally pave the streets of Rome with cacca.