Today in Varese I visited Buosi, the best gelato place in town, as I was told by two locals. Okay, so I was there yesterday too, but today I also met some great dogs and their really nice owners. And, I think I have a reputation now around Varese as the odd dog following lady: I was recognized by the people who own that gigantic Bernese mountain dog in my last post. Oh well, they were smiling when they saw me!
These two had a few of those little biscotti for a snack and they were pretty happy. The one at the back is 14, maybe that’s the trick for a long life?
Okay, well I’ve only been here for a few hours, but I think I’ve seen more dogs here than anywhere else in Italy.
This one was being good hanging outside a cafe, but he really wanted to come inside. It’s difficult for me to capture the scale of this dog, he was enormous. If my dog George who is 92 pounds put on a fat suit, he still wouldn’t be as big.
Then these two characters seemed like long lost pals. Or siblings?
Everywhere I looked, there were more.
For each one I photographed, there were 5 or 6 more that I didn’t. They were inside shops and sharing appetizers in bars. Little ones, big ones, old ones and puppies. So here in Varese, dogs seem to be the thing. I like Varese.
Today, October 4, is the feast day for St. Francis of Assisi. If you’re not familiar with St. Francis of Assisi, one of the many remarkable things he’s known for is that he is the patron saint of animals. Every year on this day or around this time Catholic and Anglican churches will offer blessings for the animals in his honor, and you are invited to bring your pets for a service. One year I attended a beautiful service at The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi in San Francisco, and it was a wonderful experience. The pews were full of dogs large and small, a few reptiles and as the priest put it “one very brave cat.”
St. Francis is also closely linked to ecology and the environment. For World Environment Day in 1982 Pope John Paul II said that St. Francis’ love and care for creation offered this reminder: “not to behave like dissident predators where nature is concerned, but to assume responsibility for it, taking all care so that everything stays healthy and integrated, so as to offer a welcoming and friendly environment even to those who succeed us.”
I believe that regardless of one’s personal beliefs, these words and the values that St. Francis stood for transcend any specific religion and speak to us all.
Happy Feast Day, St. Francis!
If you’d like to read more about St. Francis of Assisi, Wikipedia has a good article here.