I have a dog. Supposedly she was a guard dog. It started when they broke into the house – it was mid morning and I had gone with my friend to get some supplies at the supermarket in the valley. Coming back, I didn’t notice anything right away but when I tried to open and close the front door something was wrong. It wouldn’t close properly. Then when I went upstairs to the bedroom, I discovered things out of place and small jet beads that had been in a box scattered on the bedclothes. A few pieces of jewelry were missing – not that I kept much here. Two pairs of earrings, a small gold watch given to my mother when she married, a pair of gold cufflinks. Downstairs on the front door, there were marks left by a boot that had evidently kicked open the door. One gets paranoid – we tried putting in an alarm system, but then if you forget the code you can’t get in, or the alarm may go off on its own. Besides who can hear it? The houses of our closest neighbors aren’t even in sight. We figured I needed a dog.
Friends of my granddaughter had a dog they couldn’t keep – so one day the dog came to me. A pretty black and white dog, with imploring brown eyes. I’ve tried to stare her down, but she always wins. When they ask me what breed she is, well I say she’s sort of a border collie. She loves the open fields and woods and no sooner had she arrived than she found a loophole in the fence and was off. My granddaughter followed, worming her way through the opening and we started the hunt. Finally, there she was, down in a ravine where there was a brook and it didn’t take too long to get her to come up and take her home. Dripping wet of course. No one had ever taught her to play, so throwing a stick for her to fetch, or a ball, left her looking at you quizzically, asking you what she was supposed to do. We let her run free outside, until we discovered that she loved to go up to the road above the woods – a highway where people sometimes dropped off their garbage. Aside from garbage not being suitable for dogs, it was dangerous and eventually a run was fenced in and her days of freedom were a thing of the past. Now it was walks with me along the country road.
Her name? She already had one. Tea they had called her. I added on an “h” since otherwise people would have called her tee in English. Te-ah is how it’s now pronounced. In the house she took over the armchair, then the couch, and then the bed. And even the table by the window. Fine by me. I now had a dog, but we soon discovered that she loved people and I’m sure that if burglars had shown up she would have been overjoyed and met them wagging her tail, lying down on her back so her tummy could be scratched. Everyone loved Teah and she was in seventh heaven when my granddaughter got down on the floor and petted her for hours. Occasional adventures on her walks included encountering a boar or at least the scent, a deer or two, horses who had passed by. Rarely other dogs. The neighbors three huge white Maremma sheep dogs were safe behind barbed wire even though they sometimes accompanied us, running along on their side of the fence, barking and trying to get out.
And there were the cats of course, which were fun to chase. We also discovered she liked cherries and would stare up at the tree waiting for them to fall. And hazelnuts. At least with those, she managed to spit out the shells, sniffing out the nuts on the ground hidden in the leaves.
The country in the midst of the woods, with its view of Orvieto, eventually became too much for me. It was getting dangerous walking down the gravel driveway. And then as I turned 90 it was decided I would be better off in town, near my sons. I was too isolated in the country. Teah would just have to become a city dog.