Europe N to S: Attenti al Cane (1/8/17)

Today’s Miles: 22.8
Total Miles: 3,651.2

Past Asti, Italy – January 8, 2017

Some dogs aren’t really into it. They barely stir from their stoops to lift their heads, look at me, and let out an obligatory woof as I walk by.

“Sorry, sir,” they seem to say. “We don’t want to bark, it’s just in the contract, you understand.  You keep walking, we bark, everyone gets on with their day.”

Others rush at me like I’ve personally offended their grandmothers. They charge across their yards, lips pulled back, teeth gleaming, snarling, running right into the fences splitting my world from theirs. 

Black, brown, white, and red noses press through holes between posts, gaps in the wires, and the space under bushes. Fur bristles. Shrill barks, long barks, loud barks, deep and booming barks, they all come, choruses of them, as if one sets of the next, like a giant line of dominoes moving with my feet from house to house.

Some scamper along their yards as I walk by, tracking my movement until they run out of ground. Others remain standing, glaring at me from one spot, watching until I slip out of sight. Some pace back and forth, barking and running, barking and running, barking and running, until they tire of it.

“I’m going to kill you,” some of them say. 

Sometimes one dog, sometimes two or three. Sometimes a clear instigator drags the accomplices along. Sometimes the group consensus is that I must be harassed to the very limit of their reach.

Some dogs are small, acting so big and strong behind their little walls, growling, gnashing teeth, pretending like I wouldn’t outweigh them 10 to 1 if they actually got through. Some dogs are giants that lift their front paws and stand against the fences to bark, their heads near eye level, their broad chests making me squeeze my hiking sticks tight and pray there isn’t a hole in the fence somewhere. A lot fall somewhere in between.

I cared at first, days ago, I’d try and sneak by quickly, not wanting to bother anyone. Now I don’t even think about it, I just walk by as if I can’t hear a single bark. I stop and check maps. I sip water. I eat a bit of chocolate and stare absently at the white teeth gleaming through the fences. They might as well be the sound of traffic for all I notice now. It’s just another day walking roads in Italy.

As long as there’s no hole in the fence, of course.

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