“Where is Totò?”

Whoever knows the village of Speziale in Puglia, knows Dina Crovace, 50, and her little gourmet market on the main road that leads from Fasano to Ostuni. Her homemade cheese and dairy products are an institution, highly requested at each and every wedding all over Puglia and elsewhere. After opening hours she takes care of her various caterings, often getting home way after midnight. What keeps her going, day in day out? Her furry family: Totò, bulldog francese, 8, Omar, Cane Corso, 4, and Camilla, Cane Corso, 5 

Just a curiosity, but considering you’re an expert on cheese: What do you feed your doggies?
They mostly eat high quality dry dog food. They all eat the same kind and they all eat from the same plate in my house. I think they need to know how to share. Then, of course, I spoil them every now and then. I would give them a piece of Parmesan cheese, chicken, fresh tuna, fresh meat. I’m convinced it’s good for their fur, they don’t seem to lose as much.

Where did you meet all three of them?
They were presents from dear friends or family: My father gave my the french bulldog to start with. Totò, being the little one, is also the only one allowed in the shop. There’s people who ask for him before they say Hi to me, can you Imagine? Omar I got from a friend and adopted Camilla because her former family couldn’t keep her.

What’s so amazing about your dogs?
They love unconditionally.

How would you describe your relationship? 
We live in perfect symbiosis. 

Do you know their secret passions? 
They love listening to music of any kind. I usually leave the house with some background music on, radio is fine, so they relax and don’t feel lonely without me. They love – we love! – Jazz. When they’ve got their music they usually just sleep while I’m gone. When I’m home we often put dance music on, I’d carry the Totò around the house and we’d dance all together. 

How do you “understand” each other? 
I talk with them a lot: whatever happened to me that day, what I’m about to do, who I’m about to see, at what time I’ll probably be home etc.  I can tell they understand. When I get home very late and they wanna play all I need to tell is that I’m tired and not in the mood and they’d let go of me. Or I’d explain that they’re not allowed to treat the cats badly. They usually listen well, then think it over and eventually change their behavior. 

Do you have a “trick” that always works? 
There sure is a magic phrase: “Who would like a biscuit?” 

If your dogs were people: Who would they be? 
Me, myself and I

Why do you love them?
Because they love me. 

What was the funniest thing your dogs ever did?

Living with cats in the same house.

Where do you leave them when you’re away? 
They stay home and a dog sitter comes to spend time with them. It’s been the same routine every day for years since I’m gone for work a lot. 

Is there anything that annoys you about them? 
Absolutely nothing.

What do you like most doing with them when you’re together? 
Sleeping in each other’s arms.

Are your dogs part of the household 100 %? 
We share everything, they are my life, my family.

Any advice you would like to give to someone who wants to get a dog but can’t decide?
A dog can turn your life upside down. But they make you a better person because they love you no matter what. You become noble-hearted! I have changed a lot ever since I took them in. I tend to appreciate everything now. Every day, every moment with them is a discovery.

PS: You find Dina Crovace’s gourmet Supermarket (and little Totò) on via Lecce, 32, Speziale. On her Instagram account @dinacrovace73 you can follow her and her furry family’s whereabouts online.

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