*updated 30 January, 2018*
Naturally, as an expat, I face bouts of homesickness here and there.
I think it was worse at the beginning of my Italian life, when my three month stays in Italy as a tourist suddently turned into a permanant future here.
In my early days, I spent a lot of time alone. I would wander around town by foot or hit the streets on my “wicked witch of the west bicycle,” as some friends like to call it. I didn’t have a car and even though I had a driver’s license, I didn’t know how to drive a manual gear shift. Learn to drive a stick shift on the narrow roads of Italy? Um, no thank you!
After we got married, I had to wait for my Visa to process so I could find a job, but even when I did find one it was only part-time. I had a lot of extra time on my hands.
I was lonely, homesick, bored, and I wasn’t quite sure how to pull myself out of the funk I had sunken into.
I needed a cure to my expat blues, but what would help put a little sunshine back into my day?
The answer had four legs.
My husband and I had the “dog discussion” here and there, and although I loved the idea of having a pet, I wasn’t going to get one until I was sure that I could dedicate the proper time to it. I take being a pet owner seriously, so I wasn’t about to go out and buy one on a whim.
I spent a lot of time researching breeds, all the while thinking of a particular pooch that I’d discovered not too long before.
During a stroll one day, I spotted a long, short, bearded dog and had no idea what it was.
I investigated online and soon found it: the wire haired dachshund.
Once I knew what it was, I spent about ten months (yes, TEN MONTHS!) investigating the breed. I browsed websites, contacted breeders, scoured Subito (which is the Italian “Craigslist”) and mentally kept track of everything so that I would be well-informed when it came time to choose a dog.
Cookie – A Dog’s “Tail”
One day, a friend shared a post on my Facebook page of a cute little wire haired dachshund pup. It was in a local shop and looking for a home, and I just had to go meet her.
While she was adorable, I was more interested in the personality of the dog rather that looks, so I asked if there were other puppies from the litter and if the parents were visible (during my research, everyone said that it’s best to get a puppy from a breeder who has both, or at least one, of the parents on-site).
They told me that they were, but I had to drive about 45 minutes to their actual kennel to have a look.
Well, of course we had to go see them! We hopped in the car a few days later and drove to the kennel so we could see the other puppies. From there we would make our big decision: get a dog or not get a dog.
We spent an hour just watching the little fuzz balls whizz around their pen, trying to figure out which one we might choose.
When we first entered, one of the little ladies decided that my husband’s shoelaces were rather tasty, and a few others were full of kisses and happy tails. The last one was a bit small and seemed skiddish, but sweet and gentle.
Any guesses on which one we picked?
Shoelaces won us over! After all of my research, I knew that I wanted a female dog that was not skiddish, was friendly and curious, and “shoelaces” was the best fit.
Long before we even decided to get a dog, we had already found a name that we liked. Quite an appropriate name for someone like me who enjoys baking.
We named her Cookie.
Filling The Empty Space
Cookie filled the empty space in my heart that had appeared the moment I hugged my family goodbye and boarded the plane for Italy a few years prior.
I think that many of you expats out there who read this can definintely relate (I’ve seen a lot of you with dogs, too!)
Pets aren’t for everyone, this we all know, so if you don’t have a four-legged furry friend who keeps you company, what did you do to overcome your expat blues? I’m curious to see how different expats, whether in Italy or not, have dealt with this nagging illness. Share your stories below!
***If You’re Interested In This Breed – Here Are Some Tips***
I just love this breed and think everyone should have their very own “Cookie.”
During my search for a wire haired dachshund in Italy, I found a few breeders that have a great reputation.
I Bassotti di Santo Regolo
Alessandra is the breeder and an awesome lady. She cares a lot about who gets her dogs and has a real passion for the breed. We’ve actually become good friends since I contacted her when I was still looking for a puppy. She was a bit far from me so I didn’t end up getting Cookie here, but about a year after we got her, I ended up driving to Pisa just to meet Alessandra. Cookie joined us, too! Check out her Facebook page for loads of wire haired dachshund cuteness.
Allevamento Casa Mainardi
I also contacted this large, well-known kennel near Mantova. They breed show dogs and family dogs, and they have quite a few champions under their belts. They have litters frequently throughout the year and are very active on their Facebook page. Tons of pictures of these adorable beared puff balls! Although I haven’t met them personally, I have been following them for a few years and would recommend them to anyone interested in a puppy or adult dog!
I’ve seen a lot of ads from serious breeders as well as those who have litters in their private homes. €800 is standard if you get a wire haired dachshund puppy with a pedigree in Italy.
Females usually run more than that (anywhere from €1,000-1,300 if the breeder has top-quality bloodlines).
Males are anywhere from €800 and up.
They are great family dogs if you get them as puppies. Cookie didn’t grow up around children and although she is very sweet and likes to give kisses, she is also very dominant. Because of this, I keep an eye on her when little ones are around.
In general, however, the breed is very loyal to the family and full of love. She is very intelligent and also stubborn (just like me! HA!), but I have dedicated a lot of time to her behavior and continue to learn about how to properly communicate with dogs.
These little sausages are also excellent hunting dogs (tracking) for small game or even wild boars.
I keep Cookie as tidy as possible, but it is helpful if her fur gets professionally stripped a few times a year. I usually pay around €40 each time, but I eventually decided to purchase a few stripping knives and some thinning shears myself and stopped taking her to the groomer to cut down on costs. It is a lot of work, but I don’t mind it.