I’ll get to the pretty photos and exciting adventures here soon, but one of the best parts about traveling to new places is making new friends. This precious dog was my very first neighbor in Europe. Initially, I thought he was abandoned, mainly from his mangy fur and gaunt look. However, his owners merely kept him here because here was “home,” and if they took him to the new house, he’d just come running back here. Still, I wasn’t sure that he was being fed; so, each day I brought him food and water, and he greeted me with licks and tail wags. His name was Pepe.

Funny story how I met my actual neighbors. They owned the house right next to me, but they lived elsewhere. The gentleman was a widower and had two young boys. After his wife passed, it was too sad for him to stay in the house. So he literally left with the kids and began again. Left – as in left everything. All the furniture, pots, pans, it was all still there at the old house. And he took Pepe with him too. Except Pepe couldn’t start over. Home was home.

Well, I had been living in the house next door for a few weeks and was getting worried that Pepe had been abandoned. I had heard about this happening in Europe. Families leave and can’t afford to take their animals. So they do nearly the cruelest thing in the world and just leave them behind. I didn’t know if Italy had animal shelters, so one day I asked a friend who worked for the local police what I should do. He made a call. Apparently, you just call the cops.

Later that day, I pull into the driveway of my home, and what do I see but my neighbors! They had stopped by the house for one reason or another – one of them was probably to feed Pepe. I stood there and chatted with my neighbor for a few minutes, using my best Italian, while all the while my head was spinning since I had essentially called the cops on this guy just hours before! To make matters worse, as I turn to enter the house, the cops actually pulled up! Thankfully, no lights and sirens. They just parked and casually sauntered up the sidewalk. I did what any good person would do and hightailed it into the house and then like a classically nosy neighbor, I cracked the window open so I could listen in! I overheard the cop ask one of the sons how often he came by and how often he fed the dog. I was mortified! Way to go Lyn (my nickname whenever I used to get in trouble)! Get to know your neighbors by calling the Po-po on them.

Thankfully, it all ended without any fines or handcuffs. And I was very grateful that my cop friend had made the phone call and not “some young American woman who spoke broken Italian.”

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