Portrait Of A Dog – Alaska

Alaska’s eyes

It is quite hard to write about Alaska because, out of all my father’s dogs, she is the one I feel closest to on an emotional level. Let’s just say that, if James is my stepbrother’s dog and Noir is my stepsister’s, Alaska can be considered my dog, since we have a strong connection and she relies on me to take care of her whenever I am visiting the family.

Born from a stray dog in the region of Campania (Southern Italy), she is a Maremma sheepdog mix like Ambra, even though she is much bigger than her, and they both come from the same dog kennel.

If you’ve read the article I wrote about Ambra, you will probably remember that she suffered a series of abuses at the kennel. Alaska went through the same situation and it was much worse for her, as she’s more fragile and sensible than Ambra, who’s a tough dog and is not easily frightened or intimidated.


Portrait Of A Dog – (Lord) Byron

Byron in Grace’s dog bed

When you take a first look at (Lord) Byron, the Gordon Setter that was found in the Neapolitan countryside by my father’s partner in the summer of 2020, you don’t immediately realize how beautiful he is. One is generally too focused on his hyperactivity and playful ways to notice anything else. Only during those rare moments when he’s watching you cook or he’s sleeping on the floor do you see his beauty, as all setters tend to have a regal aura about them.

Byron was very ill when he first arrived home; he was born with meningitis and was saved from the streets after having both his legs broken (this makes me feel extremely angry and sad because there are still too many people around that are mistreating and abusing stray animals); my father’s partner took care of the dog from the beginning, bringing him to an excellent animal clinic in North-East Italy, where they performed surgery on him and managed to give him a good quality of life.

Byron is so funny to be around, he’s like a character actor! His facial expressions are often hilarious, and he is quite mischievous; that’s probably because he is still a puppy, since he turned two in the month of May. We could not having him neutered because his meningitis syndrome prevents him from tolerating anesthetics, as we first discovered when he had to undergo surgery for his broken legs. This resulted in him chasing our female dogs all around the house; the ladies are quite exhausted with his behavior and definitely not very happy about it!


Portrait Of A Dog – Ambra

Close-up of Ambra

Before she came to live with my father and his partner, Ambra spent her first three years in a very small dog crate at a kennel near Naples where they used to treat her quite badly; that’s when she learned to toughen up the hard way. Because of the little space she had, she got used to sleeping all curled up and she’s had this habit ever since.

Finally having a home has done wonders for her. She could spend hours sleeping in the sun (of course we let her do this for a limited time when it’s too hot outside) as she loves being out in the open air and being able to enjoy the beauty of nature.

I think Ambra embraces all the characteristics of the “perfect” dog; she is affectionate and loves being cuddled. When we scratch her belly she smiles at us, displaying a row of white, human-like teeth (I nicknamed her Dentina, which means “little tooth” in Italian) and will be thumping her tail on the floor. The noise of her tail thumping on the ground gave her the nickname of “Jumanji” (my father came up with it, as he is always making up new nicknames for our dogs).

Ambra smiles, almost to the point of laughing, every time she goes out with one of us for her daily walk; like the others, she enjoys exploring the countryside and the sidewalk that borders with the lagoon.

When it’s time for lunch, she often wants to pick the right moment to eat and could spend even 20 minutes resting beside her plate; she’s not obsessed with food (some of the other dogs would love to eat all day long!), except on the nights we order pizza, so we usually offer her a small bite.

Byron, one of our male dogs, has a huge crush on Ambra and sometimes he spends the whole day chasing after her and courting her (which she doesn’t really appreciate, since she was sterilized before leaving the kennel, so she is usually running from him and hiding behind a huge plant vase in the kitchen).

She is an amazing watch dog and does a great job at watching the house; if she hears the slightest noise she immediately stands up and sits behind the entrance door to check if anyone’s approaching the house. We don’t let her out in the garden when we aren’t home, since she usually barks at strangers and their dogs, as all watch dogs do.

With Ambra around, one can feel safe at home and enjoy her company; she is fun to be around, loves being close to any member of the family and will be sitting for hours beside the table when I work on my laptop.

Ambra - Animalier.
Ambra and her leopard blanket

All pictures are my own.

Portrait Of A Dog – Dolce (& Gabbana)

Dolce in her dog bed

Dolce means “sweet” in Italian but it is also a reference to the fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana. Our dog was named Dolce both for her sweetness (she is truly the sweetest dog around) and her stylish aspect; she is probably a Dalmatian or English Setter mix and one can guess this just by looking at her paws, which are covered in black spots (almost like polka dots).

My father’s partner adopted her a few years ago; she was found in the region of Umbria, Central Italy, when she was just a little puppy. Once she arrived home, she was basically raised by Grace, our older Irish setter, along with Jolie, our Pomeranian mix, who was a newborn too.

Dolce is a very independent dog. She likes spending time in the front garden of the house, watching people and cars go by, same as our Pekingese George, the dog she gets along with the most.