|What insane creature would run away from here, I ask you?|
Il Rifugio Del Contadino, Bosco di San Giovanni, Italy
Most of my friends know that I'm not at all what you would call a “dog person”. Really, I typically can't stand the things. I won't go into it, because I don't want to get hate-mail from the dog lovers of the world.
But I might feel differently about one dog. . . Maybe.
I can relate to this one. I admire his tenacity and his boldness, as he snaps at the heels of the horses, as though they aren't big enough to knock his head off with one well-timed, well-aimed kick.
His name is Esso (that's “it”, in Italian).
He lives on the farm where I'm currently WWOOFing, and is one of three dogs they have here. The dogs usually come with us when we do our work, whether at the barn or among the olives trees where we're harvesting. They'll torment the very timid sheep, or sit on the nets we've spread on the ground for the falling olives, and not budge, just soaking in the sun.
|Same place, view in opposite direction. Monte Bulgaria, Italy|
But Esso is always on a rope and chain, attached to one of the trees, while the two other dogs are free. I wondered about this.
Today, as we return from bringing the horses to one of the lower pastures, I realize Esso hasn't been with us today, making trouble with the horses.
“Hey . . .Where's Esso?” I ask Cesare, his owner.
“What do you mean 'gone'?” I say. We're speaking in Italian (or rather, Cesare is. What I'm speaking can only be called “Italian” if one is feeling very charitable), so I think I've misunderstood him. He seems very casual, very calm about this.
“He left,” says Cesare.
“You mean, he ran away?”
Again, very calmly, Cesare says, “Sì.”
|This place definitely doesn't suck.|
I'm quiet for a moment. Trying to come up with the right words, and trying to sound sympathetic. Then I ask, “Well, where do you think he went?”
Very matter-of-factly, Cesare responds “al bar.” [to the bar]
I have to laugh, so I do.
The man knows his dog. But I also laugh because in the United States, the bar is where you go when you need a strong drink . . . stronger than espresso, which is what “the bar” serves here in Italy. So Esso has run away to go to the bar. A true Italian dog.
I find out, also, that Esso knows everyone in town. And let me just say that “town” is a little bit of a trek from here. He knows everyone in town, and everyone knows him . . . and everyone feeds him. Esso makes the rounds of the town, and makes out well. Again, true Italian dog.
I get the impression that he'll be back whenever he damn well feels like it.
|Somewhere in these hills is a dog, jacked-up on espresso.|
Meanwhile, we walk back to the stables from where we've taken the horses. We have to repair the fence where one of them, aptly nicknamed “Houdini”, has pushed through and escaped.
Perhaps he wanted to join Esso in town, at the bar.
Italian horse and Italian dog.
I picture them now, Esso with a cigarette in one paw, espresso in another, talking, endlessly talking. Then they make their way home. Slowly. A little late, as always, but content.