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Last summer, my cousin Brian was here with a friend for a wedding so we planned to meet. I biked into the center for dinner with Stitch, and we ate at one of the restaurants I recently put on my article for TimeOut on restaurants in Florence (just if you ever needed some suggestions). Afterward, we decided to venture out for another drink and ended up on the streets around Santa Croce. Stitch was in heaven after being stuck in the heat of the house for days on end. People were his thing. Sitting outside of a bar on the streets of Florence and there’s an endless stream of pets from random strangers? Sign him up.

As we sat and chatted a girl who had been sitting in a group on the other side of the street walked over.

“I’m sorry but can I please pet your dog?” she asked, and soon her boyfriend came over too, and Stitch was in heaven and glasses were clinking and we stayed there chatting with them for much longer than I expected to be out that night. But the conversation flowed. They were from Iceland but had ties to Italy and came almost every year. They loved dogs. So much. What was I doing later in the week, they wanted to know. They were here in Florence for three weeks total, and so we agreed to meet up again for dinner or drinks the Friday after I got back from our beach trip.

Then we dropped Stitch off to Rami’s parents, and we drove out to the beach, and then we got the terrible call in the morning that Stitch had been hit by a car. The world was heavy, and then as we waded through the days, I remembered that the next day I was supposed to meet my new friends – Stitch’s new friends. These two people that I had just met for a few hours were now some of the first I had to message and the first to respond with so much care and empathy.

“Whatever you need!” They said – these people I had met at a bar, these people that that were on vacation. So much love poured over us then, and I stayed in the house for those next few weeks, and I didn’t see them again.

But I did talk to them! I kept in touch with both through Facebook and Instagram, discussing politics and differences in cultures, sharing photos of how much daylight there was at X hour in the day, and if it snowed there, I’d ask for more pictures, even if they were sick of it. They decided to foster a Boston Terrier and so then there were a wonderful amount of dog pictures and videos just when I needed them, and then they were so excited to know they’d get to meet Luna the next summer.

Tonight I met them again – a reschedule for a year later. I biked into the center with Luna in the basket, and we had a bottle of prosecco on their rooftop before heading out for dinner. Luna, usually timid with new people, had run through their door and jumped into their arms like she’d know them her entire life. So much can change in just a year, but at the same time, it felt like I had just seen them yesterday. New friends even a year later, all because a puppy (ok he was almost two but he definitely didn’t think so) wanted pets. Maybe also because of the timing, because of their share in something so much more personal like losing him, that made us keep in touch. All I know is that from it, Luna got to meet new people she loved, and I got to sit out on a terrace overlooking the skyline of Florence with friends tonight – and I have Stitch to thank. ♥