Good doggie

A dog and the human foot. Not a good combination after all the kibble have been consumed.

A dog and human feet. Not a good combination after all the kibble has been consumed.

The streets of Venice are paved with trachyte, and often are marked with something less durable.   Venetians have always loved dogs, and many of their owners do indeed clean up after them.  But a rancid few are perfectly fine with their dog’s biological functions.  So fine that the popo’ (the polite term that corresponds to “poop”) the dog leaves behind magically becomes invisible to them.

No need to take up space describing the disgust both the product and the barbaric dog-owners inspire in everyone.  But one woman struck back.

Anna da Schio (Anna from Schio — no last names on this one!) wrote to the Gazzettino on January 28 describing how she finally dealt with one dog-owner’s nonfeasance (translated by me):

I’m struck by the desperate appeal of Signor Marco Panfilo to the mayor that he should banish the dogs of Venice because their owners are uncivil.  It would seem more correct to me to banish the uncivil owners, more animals than their animals.

Anyway, I’d like to note that one can defend oneself against even these.

A few years ago, Signor Sempronio lived near me (“Sempronio” is the equivalent of “John Doe”), the owner of a very beautiful and very big boxer, which, however, left behind him mountains of popo’.  I got fed up and I decided to act.

So, they arrive — Sempronio and Fido — just like every morning.  Fido leaves his little mountain right in the middle of the sotoportego under my house, where it is super-easy to step in it because the area is dark.

Sempronio looks at the sky, pretends not to notice anything, and moves on toward the Corte Santi.  I watch this act (by Sempronio, not by Fido), and I follow them: Corte Santi, Calle del Monastero, Rio Tera’ San Vio, Calle del Sabbion, Fondamenta Zorzi and then Calle de le Mende, and I’m still behind them.

At this point the good Sempronio begins to have some doubts, and walks faster, and I’m still behind.  When we reach the Campiello degli Incurabili, he suddenly turns around and asks why I’m following him.

I reply that I’m waiting to see him return to clean under the sotoportego.  Sempronio assures me that this is completely his intention, but in the meantime walks briskly toward the Ramo degli Incurabili, and I’m still following.

We come out, a little out of breath, at the Zattere.  Fido is thrilled because this walk is a lot longer than usual, but Sempronio is visibly altered, and uncertain what to do: He doesn’t want to let me follow him all the way home, because I’d discover where he lives.  He makes a rude but eloquent gesture in my direction, heads down the Zattere almost running, and I’ll spare you the rest of the marathon, but we reach, flying, the sotoportego where, fortunately, the “mountain” is still intact.

Sempronio, who till now has considered it useless to carry the necessary tools for dealing with this, sacrifices a page of his newspaper, cleans it up, and departs with his odorous package.

I’ve often seen Sempronio and Fido, but I’ve never found any more mountains of popo’ near my house.

I see this dog thinking, “If only I could pick up my own poop — I’d try anything to make everybody’s life better.” The owner perhaps imagines that it has already been done.

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Categories : Venetian-ness


  1. Mark says:

    Bravissima Anna da Schio!

  2. Rob C says:

    Well done you!

  3. Nancy says:

    I am a hatchling I am afraid, and one of those who wanders well away from St Mark’s. I am pining to return, immersed in as many good books on this remarkable that I can find. We miss the coffee (not just in Venice of course), a little thing but we are ruined for the sop that is generally on offer back in the UK.

    There is so much to learn, about the past of course, but also about the the city and what it has to offer from a contemporary perspective. Learning some Italian too. We will have to wait until February 2017 to return.

    You blog is full of answers to the questions that passed trhough my mind as we wandered about, and makes me curious about even more. And how priviledged we felt to be there without crowds; sitting on a bench in Campo San Stefano, catching some late winter sun (shared the bench with some Venetian seniors, I asked). No queues for St Mark’s, or anything else for that matter. Though that must be hard for the folk who rely on us for their living.

    We just missed a high water, thankfully. Hope you and the stones stay dry. Look forward to following your blog.