Olive Oil for a Dog

This post was supposed to be Burocrazia Intensa II, a little story about Italian taxes, but as often happens, life intervenes and something more immediate comes up. So Burocazia Intensa II will have to wait a bit.

Just after Dante and I started seeing each other, he received a call from the Major Domo at a Villa situated in the Lucca hills that was owned by a Contessa who lived in Rome. She was part of the Royalty that once ruled the diverse kingdoms before Italy was united in 1870. The Villa has acres of olive trees and hundreds of lemon trees. The Major Domo, an acquaintance of Dante, named Giancarlo, lived at the Villa with his wife and their French bouledogue (bulldog), named Babo. (Why the French insist on putting so many unpronounced letters in their words, I’ll never understand). Giancarlo and his wife were the caretakers of the villa and managed the occasional function most often held in the limonaia, a large, sunny room where the lemon trees rested for the winter.

Giancarlo told Dante that there was a beautiful puppy who had been abandoned and left on the property. Giancarlo wanted to keep the dog, but the Contessa was not an animal lover and only reluctantly agreed to let them keep Babo there at the Villa. She would not countenance another animal. So Giancarlo asked Dante if he would take the puppy. Dante said no. He had never had a dog and didn’t know much about caring for them. And he didn’t want the responsibility of a dog. But he always loved animals and had often had cats. At the time we met, Dante had a grey cat that had been hit by a car and lost her leg. He took her to the vet and had the leg amputated but he never named the cat. Later, I gave her the name “Tre”, for her three legs.

Tre was very much an outdoor cat, only occasionally entering the house in search of something to eat. She was a bit wild and would scratch or bite without warning. Not a cuddly animal! In fact, one day upon returning from shopping, we were putting the groceries away and Tre jumped up on the table and took a package of chicken breasts and ran out the door with it. She brought it under the car and immediately devoured half of it, like a lion on the kill! And she could climb a tree faster than any four-legged squirrel!

Giancarlo called again and asked Dante to at least come and take a look at the puppy. Knowing Dante had a soft heart for animals, Giancarlo thought that once he saw the puppy, he’d fall in love. She was the prettiest little thing, long haired, brown and black, with a bit of white on her neck and chest. Her tail had been cut so it seemed she was meant to be a hunting dog. Giancarlo had named her “Trilla”, which in Italian means to ring or vibrate (like a cell phone), but in Roman dialect means someone who spins around in circles. And that’s what Trilla did when the gardener found her among the olive trees. She seemed so happy to have found someone.

When Dante arrived to take a look at Trilla, of course he fell in love immediately. But he still didn’t want the responsibility of taking care of her. So, once again he said no. Then Giancarlo made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. One year of free olive oil if he would take the dog. Dante, being the true Italian that he is, could never pass up free olive oil! So, he took Trilla home.

It was within a week of Trilla’s arrival that I first went to Dante’s house. It was three floors of a big, old farmhouse that Dante rented. One part of the house was a small apartment where an old couple lived. They took care of the grounds, tended a vegetable garden and raised chickens. Being the city girl that I am, or was at least for my first six lives, I was mightily impressed by the taste of very fresh eggs, which Dante’s neighbor would sometimes give him. Dante made the best frittata I ever tasted! Sorry, I digress. Anyway, the first time I stayed at Dante’s, I was sitting in the living room watching television and Trilla immediately jumped onto my lap. Dante yelled at her to get down, but I was happy to have her sit with me, not the least because notwithstanding the charm of the old farmhouse, it was freezing! From that day on, wherever I sat (not at the table), Trilla was in my lap.

It was the consensus of all that Trilla was abandoned because she was terrified of loud, sudden sounds, such as a rifle would make. So, she was probably brought out hunting somewhere near the Villa and when someone shot, she bolted. And she was left there. All her life with us, she was terrified of thunderstorms, fireworks, and even the drums of the mediaeval parades that come through our little town here in the hills.

Trilla was the absolute best companion anyone could hope for. Last night we said goodbye to Trilla. Today, there is a huge hole in our lives.


One reply on “Olive Oil for a Dog”

Mary & Dante,

So sorry for your loss of Trilla. Steph and I know the hole in your hearts when one loses a loving dog companion. Time will heal as when we lost our beloved female 13 1/2 year old Jack Russell Terrier, Chelsea, in September 2014. On March 7th, 2015, we adopted a rescue female Dachsund/Jack Russell terrier puppy, Emmy, in our 60s/70s. Quite the challenge at our age. It’s like having a baby in the first three months after birth. But, Emmy is and will continue to be a joy in our lives. Thank you for sharing Trilla’s story. Keep the stories coming. I always enjoy reading them. With love, Jeff

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.