Alberta’s Chocolate Shadow

Ettore the Chocolate Lab is famous in Bari. That’s because his human family, Alberta, Dionysos and their little son Fabrizio are on the road a lot, and Ettore, 10, never leaves their side. Alberta, 36, grew up with dogs, but the relationship she has established with Ettore is different from anything she’s ever experienced. “He’s a crazy soul, not a dog. So sensitive and magical. I wouldn’t know what I would do without him.” Her future husband Dionysos, 40, often brings him to work. And Ettore, educated as he is, never fails to astonish everyone for how well he knows how to look after himself while no one is watching. Then of course, when the working day is over, he’ll get all the attention he needs. Especially now, in the summer, on the sea: Labrador season!

Alberta, you organize events, your future husband Disonysos organizes photoshoots. There’s also your toddler son Fabrizio.
When do you ever have time for Ettore?
Alberta: I don’t need to make time for him. Ettore is my shadow, he has always been. I take him everywhere, even to the beautician!

Tell me about your particular relationship.
Alberta: Our relationship? Ettore understands me in everything. We don’t have a “language”, commands don’t exist. I talk to him as if he were a human, a person. And I feel he talks to me, too. He “asks” me when he wants to go to the bar, or if he can eat. He shows me where he wants to drink etc. We got to be quite symbiotic over the years! When I’m sad he is sad, if I get angry he gets scared. He’s my mirror in everything. Ettore really and truly is like a son to me, he is unique.
Dionysos: We take him with us everywhere we go, unless we have to fly. A couple of days ago we took him to one our most special events ever: We tried all the dishes of our wedding this summer. Ettore simply had to share the moment with us!

What do you enjoy doing together the most?
Dionysos: I love when we’re at the beach and he saves us. Every time you swim out a bit he comes and grabs you with his mouth and pulls you to the shore. He will scratch you all over but that’s a Labrador!
Alberta: We used to go for endless walks, seaside, countryside, everywhere. We still do, but getting older his paws started to hurt. But Ettore never gives up, he makes the extra effort. He’s always there for me, with me. He is even allowed in bed, but usually he jumps down at some point, looking for a cooler place to rest.

Any advice you’d like to share?
Alberta: Well, taking in a dog is quite a decision. You must be ready for it, because it ‘s going to be a lot more than a hobby. A dog is not a toy, it needs attention and care. For the sake of the dog you must be ready to step back.. But to those who are ready I can only suggest to get one! I don’t know what my life would be without a dog. I’ve had one since I was 11, went out in my pijama to take the dog for a run early in the morning, then took him with me to university. A dog adds rhythm to your life, it establishes rules and while it helps you feel good it also teaches you responsibility. You can’t get distracted while you’re driving, for example, because your dog is always there. A child, your pet. That’s what it is: Having a dog is like having a child.
Dionysos: Alberta is right. Don’t get a dog to show off! A dog is like a child. You need to give him the same attention you’d give to a family member. Too many people get dogs and then leave them locked away in the house or behind a fence. But they are animals that need not only care but also a lot of affection. You want a dog to make “bella figura” every friday night, walk him for two hours and then leave him with your 70-year-old mother all week? Forget it and get yourself a motorbike.


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