There once was a British artist’s couple who was madly in love with Puglia. So madly, that they bought an old castle, renovated it and made a sophisticated hideaway hotel out of it, Castle Elvira in Trepuzzi, with distinct travellers and celebrities from all over the world coming and going. To make their family complete, Harvey B. Brown and his husband Steven Riseley got a dog: (David) Bowie, 4 yrs. who taught them to be better people. Here’s their own private fairytale
First things first: How did you meet?
There was a time in 2019 when we just felt it was the right moment: We knew that we were settled for life in Italy and that our lifestyle was at last perfect for owning and caring for a dog. We decided on a German Shepherd because they have a great reputation for being easily trained and, although a little territorial, they are very friendly and good with children. We contacted a registered breeder in Taranto and got Bowie when he was no more than 8 weeks old. Bowie’s father was from Milan, an Italian champion of his breed, his mother was from Taranto.
What’s so amazing about him?
Bowie has a wonderful character, he is one of the most polite dogs I have ever met, but he is also very independent. He follows us with every step we make from one room to another, and although he loves a hug, he only wants a hug when he wants one. We really like that about him, and we like that our relationship is a two-way street. We all have to respect each other in our house. During the restoration of the castle, Bowie met hundreds of workers over the years, and he was always so excited to say hello to everybody every day. Everybody loves Bowie and we are so proud of him.
Tell me about your relationship.
Before having a dog, we never really understood people’s infatuation with their pets. Hearing other people refer to their pets as their babies seemed odd to us. Now, we are true converts. Bowie is definitely our little baby, we absolutely adore him, and we would do anything for him. We constantly worry if he is ok, and we hate leaving him if we have to take a trip anywhere without him, even for one day. We have been well and truly sucked into the dog love world.
Who would he be if not a dog?
If Bowie was a human being, he would be David Bowie, a rock star and loved by millions.
Why do you love him?
I think the thing that makes us love Bowie so much is his polite and caring nature and that he seeks our attention most of the time and hates to be apart from us. It’s a good feeling to feel loved, even by a dog.
What did he/she teach you that nobody else would?
Bowie has taught us one very important thing: to feel and accept responsibility for another living being. I believe he has made us less selfish and more giving to our friends and family.
Is there anything that annoys you about him?
Of course, there are some things that Bowie does that drive us crazy, but the worst thing about him is that he is obsessed with cats and other animals. We have a lot of woodlands around the estate and when he sees other animals he has often dragged us into the bushes and undergrowth to try and chase them.
What are your favourite things to do with him?
The best times of the day for the three of us are the mornings and the evenings. When we go to bed, Bowie is always the first to run fast up the stairs to the bedroom, and he is always the first to wake up in the mornings. He is always in a super affectionate mood at those times of the day and wants attention and hugs, he is the sweetest little boy at these times. We also love taking him for drives in the car. He really likes being in the car, there is so much for him to see and he’s super interested in everything.
Is your dog part of the family and part of the household?
We never let Bowie sleep on the bed or on any furniture. We are lucky because he actually never wanted to jump on the furniture. As much as we love him, he moults a lot, and at 55KG, he is huge, so if he ever got on the bed, there would be no room for us in any case. Taking Bowie in as part of our family was probably one of the best decisions we ever made in our life. But it’s not for everybody.
Any advice you would like to give to someone who wants to get a dog but can’t decide?
When Bowie was a little baby, it was super difficult. Such a big responsibility! Dogs depend on their owners for everything, you need to take good care of them, and you need to notice quickly if they are sick or have any problems that could escalate quickly and cause them great harm.
But, whenever anybody asks me if they should have a dog, I reply with a resounding yes, but only if they absolutely accept that the dog will be a commitment for life. There is no going back. It’s a living being and has to be respected and loved completely.
For further enquiries please contact https://www.castleelvira.com and/or follow artist, director & designer Harvey B. Brown on Instagram @harvey_b_brown