Sunday, June 24, 2012

Newfoundland in Sicily

On Friday night, Kelsey and I went for a walk around the neighborhood to enjoy the lovely evening. While we were out, we walked past a house with a BIG black dog in the backyard who must've thought we were a threat--lots of barking ensued, and we crossed the street to stay away from him. We agreed that he must've been a Newfoundland, what with the size and the possessiveness, although that was a bit more "outspoken" then most Newfies I've ever seen.

My best-remembered encounter with a Newf took place when I was 10 or so and my family was living in Germany. (My dad was Air Force and we spent three and a half years--best time of my life--at Ramstein AFB.) Get this: in Europe, they still have travel agents! Like, you go to an OFFICE and tell someone that you'd like to take a trip and then THEY get on Hotwire and book your crap, and then charge you EXTRA fees! (I assume that's how travel agents work in the modern work.) Anyway, my mom booked us a cruise through a German travel agent, so one night, we found ourselves up the road in the nearby tiny city of Kusel (population about 5K), loading onto a German tour bus. The bus took us alllll the way down through Bavaria and Switzerland, ending up at the port of departure for the cruise, which was either in the south of France or in Northern Italy (but I'm pretty sure it was France).

Over the course of a week or so, we travelled in a counter-clockwise circle from our starting point. I believe we stopped in Toulon, Barcelona, cut across to Mallorca ("the 17th German state," so called due to its extreme popularity as a vacation destination for Germans), stopped in Tunisia (thereby claiming my third continent), Sicily, Naples (where my only memory consists of the fact that not a single car had side mirrors), and Rome, before heading back to our original point.

While in Sicily, my family took a local bus out to the beach and spent a lovely afternoon playing in the surf. (The fact that we almost missed the boat at the end of the day by no means put a damper on the day's festivities.) Anyway, as we were swimming, my dad and brother (who was seven at the time, I believe) were goofing around: Dad would crouch down underwater, Robin would clamber on his shoulders, and then Dad would stand up quickly and launch Robin into the air. Great fun! Well, one of these times, Robin came up spluttering (as kids are wont to do when hurled head-over-heels into water)--and suddenly, out of nowhere, up comes charging a ginormous black dog! The Newf, very obviously concerned about Robin's welfare, started "herding" my brother back to shore. The kicker was, he made sure to stay in between Robin and our dad the whole time--he perceived Dad as a threat and wanted to protect his adopted charge! We all got a laugh out of it and the owner apologized profusely when he caught up to his dog, who had BOLTED as soon as he saw a child in trouble!

Too bad I'm a cat person...and don't have the patience to deal with a dog that big! When it comes to big dogs, my mom's always said that she'd love a Bernese Mountain Dog: but only if she could afford a mansion to house it in, and a maid to clean up all the hair and slobber. I can relate!

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