They create big smiles on peoples’ faces wherever they go: Antonella, 35, architect in Lecce, and her four Beagles move by bike and a leash, divided in four: Elodie, Olivier, Yvonne and Antoine. Why she doesn’t mind to take her dogs out walking at dawn and other “tricks” to keep the Beagles (and herself!) happy
Why did you choose Beagles?
Tell me what kind of dog you have and I’ll tell you who you are! Beagles are extremely curious and constantly drawn to everything new. At first glance, they may appear to adore the comforts of home life, but they can also get extremely energetic and demanding. Beagles come across as calm and balanced, but they are also stubborn. All of this is true for me too – that’s why we’re such a perfect match.
Beagles are also a sweet childhood memory: I used to spend long summers with my aunt and uncle, Attilio and Erika, in Liverpool, English countryside, playing with rabbits, horses and hounds 24 hours a day and taking the family dogs (mostly Beagles) for never ending nature walks.
Why are there four? How do you keep them quiet?
The Beagle is a pack dog so I was aware from the beginning that my life would change and that there might be difficulties here and there. I had done my homework; read everything I could find about their character, their strengths and weaknesses. A Beagle’s voice is very harmonious, the British call it “singing Beagle”, yet it’s something to get used to.
I got them one by one. Elodie was the first, I used to live in Turin at the time, had nothing but a small apartment and a balcony. When the second, Olivier, arrived, I had just moved back to Lecce, my home town. I found an historic palazzo in the old part of the town, which I now renovate step by step. We’ve got a massive rooftop terrace with sunny spaces and shady corners where the dogs spend their day while I’m working. Room enough for another two, I thought, so I got Yvonne and Antoine who arrived just recently in the family.
On a scale of 1 to 10 of importance in your life: Where do you see your Beagles?
They are complementary and an integral part of my life. I’m a different and better person since they’ve been around. The dogs are part of the family.
What’s so special about the bond between dogs and humans?
Dogs are affectionate and faithful friends. Humans need to live with them for a biochemical reason: They help increase the production of Oxytocine, a neurotransmitter known as the love hormone that promotes human relationships. When I am in my dogs’ company I’m always happy.
What annoys you about your dogs?
Bringing a dog into your life is an act of faith and extreme responsibility. Furthermore, it is an important commitment. There have been, there are and there always will be difficult moments, when you risk to loose your patience. The good news is: Every walk is a new oppurtunity. A dog needs to go out a couple of times every day, not only because he needs to do his business, but because the walk strengthens our relationship and improves everybody’s mood.
Any advice for living with dogs?
I studied to become an ENCI dog trainer before I got my dogs which was just as important for me as it is for them. The dog depends exclusively on us and we have to take care of it. I always recommend simple tricks to follow in order to make the binomial grow in him: Away from home means FUN, at home means REST. Here are my “tricks” for correct management:
- Everyone in their place: Each member of the family needs his own room. The dog has to have its kennel where he can rest without being disturbed. Important: Never place it near the front door or where people or other animals might pass by.
- Behavioral hierarchy: We are a family. Wherever we go we’ll move together and each individual needs to cooperate to achieve the common goal. Everyone needs to respect the rules to avoid stress.
- Rules need to be respected. Anyone who owns a dog must know the law that protects their rights and regulates obligations. You have to leave the house with a leash, a collapsible bowl for water, a soft muzzle to be used when necessary, and bags for collecting excrements. Not to forget: Dogs have their own “identity card”: With the application of a microchip, the dog is registered in the Regional Canine Registry. Remember to communicate changes of domicile and ownership.
Why are you AMAZING?
In the words of my favorite Italian poet Alda Merini, “I have always been judged as ‘strange’ or ‘different’, but you know what? I’ve always loved it! I couldn’t bear to be seen like the rest of the world”. This is what I am and what unites me to my motherland Puglia.