In Venice this weekend an entire street closed, tents went up, and crafters and artists set out their wares. People strolled by with giant bags of kettle corn and others struggled through the crowds with metal sculptures or topiaries made of shells.
We were in the thick of it, Mamie included. It was only a matter of time before she became a furry black and white pancake on the sidewalk so I became one of those ladies with a dog tucked under her arm like a handbag. Still, she was a great shopping deterrent. I wasn’t even the slightest bit tempted to elbow my way into any of the phone booth-sized displays to look at earrings or hand-thrown pottery.
Mamie, now at eye level, drew any number of admirers who stopped to ask about her and launch into stories of their own beloved dog from their present or past. Apparently once you’ve owned a dog, you’re a softy for everyone else’s. It was poignant how many people missed their dog or wished they still had one.
We finally turned a corner and came across an artist’s shop where I hung around outside since it was unlikely anyone would want a dog, no matter how small, snuffling around in their corners. But no, we were all invited in, and had a long conversation with the artist himself, a wood carver of incredible skill.
We learned that instead of accessing a scholarship to art school, he’d trained one-on-one with an artist in Canada and been able to make a living with his art his entire life.
After all this culture, it was time for lunch and we found a dog-friendly café. Mamie charmed more passersby and scored corners of my grill cheese and there was no shortage of entertainment:
Afterwards, there were just too many ice cream shops on the way to the car, so our next encounter was with a man who, charmed by Mamie, joined us on our bench with his own ice cream. We went into our usual explanation of her breed, which no one has ever heard of, and he told us about his own dog, too old get out much. Dogs are powerful ice breakers - next thing we knew, we were hearing all about his relationship with a past girl friend of his and the dogs in her life.
Mamie was more interested in My Guy’s cone. After that source dried up, she cast her big brown eyes upon our companion, who went back into the shop for a spoon to share his ice cream with her, too.