First impressions stick in the mind like chewing-gum. It doesn’t matter how the impression is made – through direct experience or second-hand – the more startling the impression the more sticky the fix.
In August we moved to the south of Italy, just outside the historic city of Naples with its reputation for crime, corruption, trouble with rubbish, and the small matter of the Camorra.
The pre-departure reading had been interesting in a disturbing kind of way but what really stuck was a brief headline deposited in the spring in amongst London’s daily serving of global news – Naples was about to start the DNA testing of dog mess.
What? With problems towering over the city … dog mess? The New York Times’ had a scoop at the story but still the question bounced around my head. Then I had my first look at the centre of the Naples and I began to understand.
Dogs are everywhere – sometimes on a lead and attached to an owner, sometimes not, but always part of the action and with many of the same habits as the two legged citizens. They commute, they stroll, they socialise, and they visit the shops.
It’s evident here that man loves dog and dog loves man but it is not in the same ‘take-each-other-to-the-park’ way as the British, or in the ‘let’s-buy-you-a- new-jacket’ way as some Americans. Dogs here are a real part of every day life and welcome just about anywhere. Rigid discipline does not seem to be the goal, rather a good natured agreement to just get on with getting on.
The impression I have is of a city centre with relaxed dogs and very little dog mess spread around its pavements.
For a brief look at the difference between the southern Italian and the north American man-dog relationship try this short post on the Italians R Us site. It explains a lot.
That just leaves the ‘why’? Why has a city such as Naples agreed to scoop up its poop? Perhaps it’s simply that for a while at least the forensic, and some would say ‘crazy’, cunning of the authorities has earned them some time and pavement space.
Copyright Georgie Knaggs and The Phraser 2018