Thursday, November 6, 2008

Closed Visitor Season

We have now entered into our closed visitor season, unless we get an unexpected but extremely welcome visit from one of our sons who has been threatening to pop over but has yet to materialise.
We have had a lovely Summer and early Autumn seeing “the family”. No seriously there is nothing “mafiosa” about them, well most of them anyway, one or two might be a bit dodgy, especially the mum-in-law and the latest granddaughter. She doesn’t use threats to get what she wants, she just smiles at you so you are completely under her spell.

The weather of course has contributed to everyone’s stay being enjoyable, being able to live outside virtually the whole time. Which is just as well. Our living quarters are small and will remain so until we are able to open up the other half of the house, which won’t be just yet.

Everybody has been chipping in. It has been brilliant.

So now it is down to some serious chores outside, of which we have many, and of course getting back to some regular blogging, which quite honestly I have missed doing.

Welcome to Bertie

Those of you who know us, will appreciate just how hard it was to leave our dogs in the UK when we left for Italy. We did a lot of heart searching but decided that it was not feasible or sensible on all levels for them to come with us.
We have missed them dreadfully. The more we have settled in the more we have missed having some canine company. The community cats are excellent, but ……..
We had more or less agreed quite recently that next year we would get a mutt and also a couple of chickens.
How rapidly things change.

A few weeks ago, an English couple who live not far from us, found a plastic bag containing six two-day old puppies, all with their umbilical cords still attached. They took them to the vets in Sarnano, who checked them over. They were OK but were going to need a lot of TLC if they were going to stand any chance of survival without their mum. The vet showed the couple how to feed them and so, armed with perfunctory knowledge, some syringes and some sort of formula milk, they took them home and started some serious fostering. The vet waived her fees – she has done so for other visits too. Excellent.
On an Internet forum that we belong to, they wrote about the plight of these pups but also said that they had to leave Italy for England in a couple of weeks time. Would anybody provide a home for these little waifs? We were very tempted to step in and say that we would have one of them, but we have had a trip back to the UK planned in for some time at the beginning of December, which we couldn’t cancel. So we didn’t do anything then, but we, well La Duchessa was monitoring the story, something that she only informed me of after we got Bertie.

This couple deserve a medal. Can you imaging trying to feed six pups this young? Pups this young need feeding about every two hours for days. No sooner had they finished feeding the sixth then the first needed feeding again. But these little beggars are obviously fighters. All the pups responded to this enormous commitment of care, and the vet was very pleased at how they had responded. But the deadline for these people to return to England was getting nearer and nearer. They were getting more worried and emotional about leaving the dogs than their own upheaval.

The upshot of this was that another set of fosterers stepped in (S&M) – no rude comments please - and offered to take the pups, but thankfully two were taken on by other people. S&M decided to keep one and took some photos of the others – two dogs and a bitch - and put them out on the forum, where we saw them last Monday.

We “revisited” our earlier decision about having a dog now. We explained to S&M about our trip. Problem solved. They would look after the pup when we went away and we would return the dog-sitting exercise because they are having to go back in January, and we could do exchanges in the future. Brilliant.

So we set off for Amandola where they live. We stood around chatting to S&M trying to avoid standing in pee and poo having our laces pulled about by these fat balls of fluff, at least when they weren’t attacking each other and then suddenly collapsing in a heap falling instantly fast asleep.

We chose Scruffy. My reason was because although the pups for going to homes were essentially all white, Scruffy had a hint of redness on his fur on his head. La Duchessa said, “Are you’re sure it’s not pee?” No, it’s not. I think if I hadn’t chosen, we would also have had Big Bear and Little Bear in the car with us too.

The pups are a cross between a breed called Maremma, which are Central Italian sheep herd/guard dogs dating back to ancient Roman times and something else, not sure what. Looking at him, it seems at the moment that he is mostly Maremma. They are not sheep dogs like collies. They will often stay with the flock all the time to protect them from wolves and other predators. Having looked up about them, they are quite an interesting breed.
Have a look at or

They are also big dogs with male adults averaging around 27/28 inches shoulder height. Phew, that’s a big dog.

Of course we have gone through various names, Totti (Italian footballer), Bertie, Chewbaca (he is quite ursine) and Scooby. Taking everything into account we have chosen to call him Bertie. What the neighbours and the cats of course will think, goodness knows.
He is about as wide as he is long at the moment and has great trouble walking in a straight line for more than one step. He has tried to run, but that is just hilarious to watch. He has a little ball that he tries to stalk and then goes to bat it with one of his paws. Most times, he misses and sometimes he loses his stability and falls over as well. Beats watching Italian TV.
It of course is 100% engaging to watch him. Thank goodness, he sleeps a lot which allows us some time to do other things.
He is sitting on my lap at the moment chewing my watch strap as I am trying to type single handed. Very helpful.
One other thing. It’s helpful that we have tiled floors.

He is very lovely and loves to be made a fuss of, not surprising really thinking of what he has been through in his first 37 days. He and his siblings are all fit and well. All the owners of the pups will know of the other owners and it will be easy to hook up with some of them now and again and bring the dogs on walks around here together. They are special dogs thanks to a spirited and selfless action by a couple who are now back in England. We hope that they will be able to come over sometime and see at least some of the results of their wonderful actions.

Of course the entry wouldn’t be complete without some pictures of Bertie, so here we are.

Ciao, mantenere de fede

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