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The Dogs of Rapallo

By Rick Gush, Urban Farm contributor

Friday, December 17, 2010


Photo by Rick Gush

I call this dog "Princess" because I can never remember her Italian name.

Another item on the long list of things that I like about life here in Rapallo, Italy, is the fact that there are a whole lot of dogs to play with on the streets.

Here in Rapallo, almost everybody lives in a condominium, which means people need to take their dogs out for walks every day. The dogs get used to mixing with strangers, so no matter where I go, I get to play with them. I think these street-smart dogs are friendlier than dogs kept behind fences in backyards, too, and I’m always assured a warm reception.


Photo by Rick Gush

My neighbor adopted Buddy after his original owner passed away.

The first year I lived here, I couldn’t speak much Italian, but I found that playing with dogs on the street was a good way to make friends with people. I now have a roster of dogs that I see regularly. I don’t carry dog biscuits with me as much as I used to, but I still have great fun walking downtown because I’m sure to encounter several of my dog friends.

I took the pictures for today’s blog this morning while I waited on the street for my friend who is helping me move [LINK: /community-building-and-resources/urban-farm-bloggers/urban-farmer-rick-gush/moving-time.aspx]some of my stuff. In the space of the 10 minutes I was on the street, three of my dog friends passed by. Buddy (pictured right) was adopted by a neighbor of mine after his previous owner passed away. The top photo is of the dog I call Princess because I can’t remember her Italian name. 

I suppose one drawback of all these dogs on the street is the phenomenon I call the "sidewalk lottery.” Everybody steps in it once in a while. Still, as bad as Italians are at keeping things clean, I’ve only won the sidewalk lottery five or six times in the 10 years I’ve been here.

I’ve been photographing the dogs of Rapallo for 10 years now, but the best shots are the most elusive, and I’ve only gotten a few of those. What I’m talking about are photographs of dogs riding on scooters with their owners. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see a few different dogs riding on scooters, but getting a photograph is really tough. One day I stood on a likely corner for an hour with camera in hand, ready to take action shots of dogs on bikes. Unfortunately, all I have to show for that is a few dozen blurry shots of scooters zipping past me. Oh well. I’ve still got the dogs to play with.

Read more of Rick's Favorite Crops »

Give us your opinion on The Dogs of Rapallo.
Submit Comment »
The more you speak of Rapallo the more wonderful it sounds. Out of all of Italy, how did you decide to move to Rapallo? Here at the urban ranch the lottery comes into play when I cut the grass. The dogs being walked seem to like my yard the best. What's up with that?

Have a great Rapallo day.
David, Omaha, NE
Posted: 12/18/2010 5:27:39 AM

About the Blogger

Rick Gush

Rick Gush
Rick Gush has long been a staunch organic gardener. While a student at the University of California at Davis he worked at local tomato and sugar beet farms and continued in the agricultural and horticultural industries for many years. A career move in the 1990s led him to design computer games, but no matter how much of a techie he’s become, gardening and farming remain his principal passions.

In 2000, Rick moved to Italy, where he writes to you about his cliff garden and other experiences in Italian urban agriculture.

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