Friday, December 23, 2005

Italian Dogs, What the Guidebooks Don't Tell You

Fashion is life. Italy, the great country of Gucci, Fendi, Dolce and Gabbana, Prada, Armani. In every town the fashion elite parade down their own imaginary runway. But you don’t have to have lots of money to be fashionable. How to be fashionable in Italy? Wear black and grab yourself a pooch to bring everywhere.
If Italy is the land of pasta, then Italy's wealthiest region the Veneto is the land of dogs. I spent three months in Italy. I think I saw one cat. To be fair I’ll make it two. I’m sure one slipped my mind. Cats aren’t very trendy.
Italians love dogs. Dogs are as fashionable as fur, leather and black. Dogs are furry, many are black. They are the perfect fashion accessory! It makes me wonder, is it important for your pet to match your outfit? And if so, are black dogs a more desirable pet than a brown or white dog? Black dogs will clearly go with more outfits.
But don’t worry owners of brown and white dogs. Designers make bags to carry your cute little dog if he doesn’t match your outfit. En route to a winery I overhead two American girls discussing this perfect solution for the nonblack-furred dog.
“Did you just say that designers make bags for carrying dogs?” I asked.
Was I hearing this correctly? Italy's modern day Italian heroes had eased the stresses of an essential fashion accessory not matching an outfit. Bravo!
“Yeah, Fendi, Gucci, Louis Vuitton. They all make them. And if I had a little dog I would have to get one,” she said.

Dogs should and must be brought everywhere. They are allowed everywhere. Nicely dressed women can, or maybe just pretend they can manage a stroller, a crying child and a wandering dog. But even under all that pressure they still look good!
On one occasion I saw a white dog with brown spots. He was alone. He was in a bar. It was the first night I ventured to “La Piazza” with my fellow study abroaders. I was savoring the pure flavor of a €.80 glass of wine when I noticed a man sitting by the door. He was a snooty looking fellow with long dark ponytail, my epitome of a stereotypical Italian. The chain-smoking-espresso-drinking-tight-jean-wearing Italian man. And he was reading the “Pink Paper,” Italy's major sports paper “La Gazzetta dello Sport.” (I must mention that I was tickled pick when I discovered this.) Next to the man was fat dog hanging out in the café-turned-bar. Apparently he was enjoying the Eurotechno while I imagine he waited for some of his friends to show up. They could inhale smoke, as only true Italian dogs do. And maybe they would get doggy bowls of wine. Being Italian, the dogs would probably order a higher quality wine than the tap wine I was drinking.
Becoming aware of this bizarre fashion trend, I decided what I wanted to see the most in Italy was not the Colosseum or The David, but an excessively make-uped woman dressed in the latest designer clothes and the highest heels dragging around her doggie in a matching outfit.
My dream didn’t come true. But in Florence I saw a man pushing his dog in a baby carriage. And that was good enough.


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