We still have a car for a few days so we got up and took advantage of the luxury and went grocery shopping at the big supermarket a bit outside the center. If we don’t have a car, we can only buy as much as we can carry the few blocks home with pure arm strength and the assistance of my little wheelie-cart that can carry a bit more (can’t be anything squishable though). This process creates a unique situation where I become eco-friendly out of inconvenience because a two-pack of paper towels take up half of my personal grocery-carrying capacity and I’m not about to deal with that.
So off we went towards the big Esselunga with the parking garage underneath. Getting a carriage, I put Luna in my bag and into the baby seat – because this is not just a baby seat in Italy, it is a puppy seat and it is wonderful. Shopping with Luna makes it tolerable – I grew up with a Mum that generally knew what she wanted/needed before she walked into the store, knew the pathway to cut the time down to the minimal amount (she’d hate it when we randomly had to go to a store on the other side of town and all the aisles were different), and get the hell out of there as soon as possible. Now I’m married to a man that gets excited to go grocery shopping and can spend more than a few minutes thinking about what olive oil to choose.
I am saved because, in Italy, dogs are generally treated better than people, and so Luna gets to sit in the baby seat of the carriage and entertain the entire supermarket for the following few hours, nevermind make shopping more of a bearable experience for me when a little face is sitting in front of me the whole time ready to give out kisses to anyone that wants them.
When you have a dog in Italy (and sometimes even when you don’t) and when you look like your face came from this country (thank you Italian/European ancestors), it signifies that you are open for unlimited conversation. Before we made it past the fruits and to the vegetables, we were stopped three times by other shoppers (and workers) to say hi to Luna and tell us how beautiful she is.
An older man shuffled by – his bright blue eyes opened wide as he looked up from his eggplants and saw Luna in the cart. That prompted a ten-minute conversation about how much he loved his pet cat, especially because his children decided to not have grandkids (which then led to a mini conversation about the economy before winding back to pet talk). He took out his flip phone and turned it on to show me his six-year-old tabby cat named Marco, chatted a bit more about Luna, dogs in general, and another topic that got a bit lost in translation, and then he was off to do his shopping.
This happens multiple times as we weave through the aisles. Over the years I have listened to stories of people’s pets dying as they cuddled my puppy, I’ve seen pictures of pets from around the world, I’ve heard rescue stories and about birthday surprises. I’ve been told of loneliness and of lives full of family and friends. It’s incredible what people will share with me if I sit and listen as they pet my dog.
Luna can come with us anywhere because she’s small – though even larger dogs are accepted almost everywhere. This means that we also get stopped everywhere for conversation and pets for Luna.
Most people go out of their way for these minutes with us, and I am amazed every time at how long they stay to chat, how much they’ll share – as if we’ve known them their whole lives. Without Luna, I’d be missing out on an entire aspect of Italian life, nevermind a hell of a lot of Italian practice – and errands would definitely be much more boring – so thank you Italy – for loving dogs enough to let them into our daily lives and living life in a way that taking time out of the day to pet doggies is generally accepted time well spent.
On our way out of the market, the women working at the Customer Service desk screamed at us as we went by. “WAIT! STOP!” I thought we had done something wrong – but they just wanted a few more kisses from our puppy before we went home with our incredibly large haul of groceries that definitely would not fit in my wheelie-cart.