The Dogs of Monza

I come from the suburbs of Ohio: Open yards, lawns that are separated only by a skinny, concrete slab of driveway, tricycles and dads in the yards tinkering on something to ‘keep the house running.’ It’s this beautiful concept of the American dream that we eagerly agreed to for the past 60 years. And while it has its shortcomings, there’s one furry member of most families that probably thinks it’s the bee’s knees (and no, I’m not talking about the dads.)

Dogs in the suburbs can roll in the grass, lounge in sun spots or go on walks/jogs with their well-to-do owners. It’s a dogs life and they’re happy to be here! The number one thing, however, that dogs can do when they have a lawn to play in, is go number two.

I’ve been living in Monza for about four weeks now. It’s a typical Italian city: Brick and stone streets, gated houses, very little yard space for public dogs. So where do dogs do their business when there’s no grass you ask? Everywhere, apparently. There hasn’t been one romantic evening walk with Marco that hasn’t been punctuated by “Watch out for the poop!” or “Occhio (watch), don’t step there!” Yes, romantic I said.

Despite this, one walk through the piazza is enough to make you feel naked for not having a tiny dog with a sweater walking beside you. The dogs of Monza are plentiful and I feel a tinge of jealousy with each one I pass.

My friends know I want a dog. I want a little, bitty puppy who will grow up into an enormous dog of the lab sort, whom I can love and play with and cuddle. Reasons such as money, living in a tiny apartment, work and the want for complete freedom have prevented me from getting a dog so far, but what really helped me move past my lack of a puppy was a scene with a dog and its owner in Monza.

Yesterday I noticed a woman in a long, luxurious fur coat walking a tiny dog. Though I don’t like tiny dogs, I was nevertheless jealous of the scene and of her happiness to have a luxurious fur coat and a tiny dog. That is, until the dog stopped to poop IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET. As she waited with a bag I couldn’t help but realize her predicament. She had to pick up after this dog, immediately blowing her “I’m fancy” cover. Not only that, HOW, tell me HOW, was she going to do that without brushing her below-the-knee fur coat on the ground, or worse – getting it in the mess?

Having a dog is a lot of responsibility, I know, and picking up after it is a main one. In the Midwestern suburbs where we are practical people, maybe it’s not a big deal, but on the main street of Monza, lined with designer named clothing brands, it seems a bit more humbling. I didn’t stay to watch if the woman successfully picked up the dog poop because, who would want to watch that, but I did manage not to snicker until I was well beyond earshot.

P.S. Check back for an adorable slideshow of the various dogs of Monza! Coming soon!

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