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.


Portrait Of A Dog – George (Clooney)

George at lunch time

I have always thought of George, our Pekingese, as a little lion. He’s one of the oldest dogs we have and one of the very first dogs my father’s partner bought.

He is almost eleven years old and he comes from a Pekingese breeding centre on the outskirts of Rome.

When we first met, he was a bit shy but then he started spending the evenings on the couch with me while I was working on my laptop. Having nine dogs, we usually don’t allow them to enter the living room all at once because they would probably destroy it, especially if we aren’t home, but we like to allow one or two dogs at a time to stay with us when we watch TV.

George is the one who is always present in the living room, be it on the couch or the pouf. He loves playing with other dogs (especially with Byron, our Setter Gordon; let’s say he enjoys bossing him around!) but he also likes falling asleep next to us.


Portrait Of A Dog – Noir

Noir with her tennis ball

Where do I even begin with Noir? It is quite difficult to put into words how extraordinary she is.

My father’s partner acquired her in 2019 after she was found near Agrigento, Sicily (Southern Italy), where she had previously been abandoned by a family who was leaving for the holidays (unfortunately this seems to happen a lot in the summer months), and was then found by a volunteer who put her up for adoption.

Noir is a Flat-Coated Retriever (which, as you may already know, is basically a black retriever) and has the most admirable qualities you will find in a retriever: a self-assured, happy dog, affectionate towards the family and generally getting along well with other dogs.

She is generous and playful. She loves to retrieve pretty much anything, especially her tennis ball. Whenever Noir comes across one, she won’t stop asking you to play with her, even when she’s visibly tired, as she tends to suffer from heat stress in the warm season (we often joke about how she should be used to hot weather, since she comes from Sicily, where it’s super hot in the summertime).

A curious dog by nature, she spends the summer months looking for lizards in the garden with our Pomeranian mix Jolie; the two of them will interrupt their hunting only when food is around!