These are stories about those places that are noteworthy either as public attractions, or perhaps even quiet personal places that make a difference in people’s lives. They are the places that give us energy, sustenance and reflective moments that help us to live richer lives.
“How much is that doggie in the window
The one with the waggly tail
How much is that doggie in the window
I do hope that doggie’s for sale”
Patti Page popularized the novelty song, “(How much is) That Doggie in the Window?” in 1952, when we had each achieved the magical age of 1. The answers to those questions were clear for us even as children and became underscored as the years went on. Here are the questions, followed by our answers: “How much?”—”priceless” and “For Sale?”—”not a chance.”
If you want to have some fun, put a dog in a carry bag (preferably a small dog) and take it everywhere you go. Doing this in Italy resulted in our pooches becoming our “doggies in the window,” attracting the attention of many passers-by. We began with our dearly departed Izzy-B. Her name was Isabel, but Italians knew her as “Ee-sah-bella.” She was a real sweetheart who graciously allowed us to carry her everywhere—the grocery store, restaurants, running errands—the destination made no difference to her. She never uttered one complaint or showed a lack of enthusiasm. She seemed to bask in the attention of all the friendly folks who greeted her.
After 2 years without a doxie, we adopted her successor Sara, pronounced “Sah-dah” in Italian. We’ve had strangers scheming to sneak her into forbidden places, while others have screamed with glee as they take her little face into both hands to smooch her loudly. Most people can’t resist feeding her tiny treats they carry in their pockets, and we’ve even had her magical power give us direction and grant special favors. Following is just one silly example of the antics:
Em needed a haircut in Italy. He’d seen a barber shop in the nearby town of Caldine, just across from the local grocery store. It looked promising, so he thought he’d give it a try. One day, while Cheryl was at the market, he walked over for a trim. As usual, Sara was tucked into her carry-bag and barely visible. The barber spun around to offer Em a seat in the barber’s chair. Suddenly, he saw Sara peeking from under Em’s arm. Barber Giovanni is an avid dog lover and was fine with Em keeping Sara on his lap during the haircut—he simply let the barber’s cape drift slowly down over both of them. Another man entered the shop and Giovanni insisted on giving him a peek at Sara. He carefully lifted the hem of the cape to present a napping doggie. Everyone laughed at the silly sight. Sara glanced up momentarily and then fell back asleep.
After the long pandemic travel drought, we finally returned to Italy some 2 years later. Although he’d had a few haircuts stateside, Em really liked Giovanni’s technique so he returned to the shop for another trim. As Em entered the barber shop, Giovanni paused over his seated customer. Holding his comb and scissors in mid-air, he greeted Em, “Hello, hello, how’s Sara?”(“Ciao, ciao, come sta Sah-dah?”) Em quickly realized that Giovanni didn’t remember his name—just Sara’s. Em replied that she was waiting in the car with Cheryl, but offered to retrieve her. When they returned, the finished customer stood to leave and Giovanni gestured for Em to be seated. Em placed Sara on his lap just like before, anticipating the same fluttering barber’s cape. Giovanni whooshed the large white bib up and out, then waited for it to settle over them. This time, to Em and Sara’s surprise, there was a new feature in the large cape. A clear window had been sewn into the front of it, seemingly custom-made for a furry friend. Sara was completely visible, giving everyone a hearty chuckle as she peered out through the plastic window (finestra di plastica), a bit puzzled and curious. It may have taken her a few extra seconds to fall asleep. Giovanni explained that the cape-windows are intended for cell phone use. However, we agreed that a dedicated dog-window is much more important and a lot more fun!
So, we return to the original question: “How much is that doggie in the (modified cape) window?”—still “priceless.” We wouldn’t trade our little fur baby for all of Italy, or the entire world for that matter! Our theory was supported yet again: some furry fun is always guaranteed when a dog is in tow.
Related Stories and Music
Simone and Alessia arrived around mezzogiorno, noon the other day for lunch with us in the country. The sun was bright and the air was clear with that unmistakable fall crispness. We hadn’t seen them for over a year, so it was especially fun for us to have that time together to sit and talk . . .
What?! Are you confused? Don’t be. Tuesday is the name of our daughter’s chocolate lab. No, Iris does not work in research at Hershey headquarters in Pennsylvania. No, she didn’t adopt her sweet puppy on a Tuesday afternoon, but we do celebrate Tuesdays as double days.