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My Italian Pooch

Updated: Jan 7, 2023

There is no doubt that dogs hold a special place in many peoples' hearts, and it's no wonder. They can be some of the most loyal, adoring friends you could ask for.

While I can honestly say I am not absolutely a dog person, I do warm up to individual dogs and that's what happened between Toby and me.

For those who don't know, our team has recently been working furiously on "The Dog Collective," a collection of inspiring short stories and photographs of lovable pups. This book was definitely a team effort {Anne van Gessel, Aubrey Walter and myself, Lyndsay Stanley}. And while the other two authors were given the opportunity and space to reminisce about their past and present experiences with their pouches I was not.

The Special Edition/ Coffee Table Book "The Dog Collective," now available on Amazon.

So this is my space.

Meet Toby

Let's start from the beginning. In December 2021, my family and I were presented with the opportunity to spend three months in northern Italy as a favour to look after the home and dog of an American missionary family. While the original offer was a surprise to us, we decided to consider it and ultimately agreed. For four months we planned our trip and got ready to meet our American friends and their fuzzy pooch.

When we arrived, we met Toby. He is a four-year-old not sure what breed of fuzzy white dog [sorry not a dog person]. He had tons of energy and loved affection even from strangers. He eagerly attempted to win your heart, and while that tactic worked for my husband and my children, it took a lot more for me to soften. But soften I did.

While there were some serious challenges to adapting to another culture which speaks another language, and then also adapting to living with a puppy in a 600-sqft two-bedroom apartment [much smaller than my Canadian home-to be sure], I couldn't help but like this ball of fur, who was so eager to please. If I sat down he'd sit close by. If I ate food he'd be sitting at my feet [waiting for some scraps-but still endearing]. If we were outside he wanted to be outside. And if we were going in the car he was eager to join us.

Even though Toby was missing his own family, he seemed only too happy to reinvent his life and join our family instead. He would sit in the bathroom as we bathed our children, enduring every splash and squeal. He would then walk with us into their room to continue the bedtime routine right up until the children were tucked into their beds as if he also was putting them to bed.

Funnily enough, Toby would then proceed to our room, which I was sure to let him know, was not part of his routine.

But what really won me over was how Toby brought so much joy to our children, especially our four-year-old son Zach. He loved to chase the dog in the yard, play fetch with him and authoritatively tell the dog "No!" when he jumped up. It was the sparkle in my child's eye that made me reconsider how I felt about Toby.

When his owners first left, they let us know to be careful when opening the gate to the driveway, as Toby was likely to flee quickly out onto the busy streets of Camisano, Italy. As careful caregivers, we heeded this warning, sure to close the door right in his face if we had to. We even went to the Italian version of Home Depot and updated the family's fence so that Toby couldn't squeeze his way through as he was like to do in the past.

Every time we left the house to do our shopping or to go on some fun Italian adventure with the kids, we wondered to ourselves, will Toby be there when we get home?

One of our Italian Adventures: Venice, Italy

A snap of me posing outside of Citadella, Italy

And every time, whether we returned in the sunshine or at dusk, Toby would be lying down by the updated gate. Waiting for us to return.

The fact that Toby didn't try to escape his doggy sitters, really touched me. He could have instinctively thought to leave, perhaps to find his family. But he didn't. He attributed the same loyalty to us as he had to his proper family. That really taught me about the unconditional positive regard that dogs have toward humans. How remarkable you are, Toby!


"The Dog Collective," is available in various formats (Magazine Edition, Special Edition Coffee Table Book, eBook, and Special International Edition).

and it gets even better, now we are offering the official Dog Collective 2023 Calendar

If you haven't already picked up your copy of our book, be sure to check out the above links and follow us on Twitter for all the "Dog Collective" updates.


The Authentically Anne Blog

All blog posts published by The Authentically Anne Blog are a team effort and are reviewed and designed by at least one editor on our team.

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