Families come in all shapes and sizes: Flower designer Michele Zaurino and his husband Enrico have created a family dream of their own in the surrounding hills of Martina Franca, on a large estate with secular olive trees as far as the eye can see, and almonds, cherries and figs growing all over the place. A angle of paradise for their two Abruzzese Sheepdogs. And not only…
Two Abruzzese Sheepdogs – that’s not for everyone…
And they were three! Unfortunately we lost one to cancer. His name was Ago, our very first dog in the family. Someone had told us about a litter close to our home, just out of Martina Franca in Puglia. We showed up, immediately decided to take one of them home and instantly fell in love with our little big Ago. A great dog, beautiful, strong, to good to be true! Sadly, he got sick and died of Leukemia within months. Just enough time to educate our second Abruzzese Sheepdog, a female that we called Tea. When Ago got worse and died, my husband and I suffered with him and grieved for him as if it was a child. Unbelievable how close we had become, how hard it was to let him go. We eventually found another male and called him Ugo. So even if it’s not three but only two of them now, we’re as close as any family can be. The dogs live outside, yet they are like kids for us. We’ve created a perfect harmony, understanding each other without words. I actually think the dogs are getting more and more similar to us, but that’s what they say about dogs and masters, don’t they?
What’s so amazing/special about your dogs?
They are extraordinary in every way! We are family, no more no less. And we love spending time together, being outdoors together, go hiking, playing, fighting with them on the floor like children, for hours. And they consider us their parents, calling us, barking, howling… as if we were two of them.
What did they teach you that nobody else would?
They taught us to be good. Because a dog would never leave you no matter what. He is always there, by your side, come rain or come shine. Looking at you, looking after you, caring about you. They want to be like us and we want to be like them, we learn from them.
Is there anything that annoys you about them?
Not at all. Humans can be annoying sometimes! But dogs? At least OUR dogs are just sweet, always. Even though it’s a breed that’s known to be very territorial and highly protective.
What are your favourite things to do with them?
Playing and having fun. Only when it’s time to eat, they forget everything. As if they celebrated every single feast. Pure instinct.
Are your dogs part of the household? Do they sleep in your bed?
No way. Our dogs are too big to keep them inside. They’ve got their outdoor space, their dog beds, and the entire estate to run and have fun. They seem to be more than happy with it.
Any advice you would like to give to someone who wants to get a dog but can’t decide?
Go and get one, immediately. Because he will change your life and will make you happy. A dog helps you to be yourself, to forget about your sorrows. You’ll find that negativity disappears. It doesn’t take much: Just look him in the eyes and you’ll see his soul.
PS: If you’d like to learn more about flower designer Michele Zaurino, check out his Instagram account @michele_zaurino