Maggie is an 11-year-old Beardie rescue dog from the American Midwest who has spent several months a year in Venice, Italy.
In this illustrated dog blog, we're chronicling Maggie's adventures--and ours--as part-time residents of Italy's most dog- and pedestrian-friendly city. We're also sharing photos and video clips about dogs (and the occasional cat) in Venice.
ABOVE: In June, this dog (plus another dog, eight cats, and three tortoises) will welcome a housesitter in Ayvalik, Turkey.
In a new Europe for Visitors Blog post, we describe a great travel opportunity for pet lovers with time to spare: House-sitting in Europe with TrustedHouseSitters.com.
The concept is simple: You take care of a house or apartment (including pets and plants) while the homeowners are out of town. In return, you get a free place to stay for anywhere from a week or two to several months.
Opportunities range from London townhouses to French farmhouses to villas on the beach in Turkey and Greece. (Listings change all the time, and if you're open-minded about location, you can vacation for a good part of the year without ever paying for a place to stay--especially after you've established yourself as a reliable housesitter.)
We didn't find any Venice listings in our perusal of TrustedHouseSitters.com's most recent opportunities, but we did see an apartment in Umbria that came with a herd of alpacas on a nearby farm.
ABOVE: Maggie demonstrates her close-range DNA sniffing skills.
Now that residents of Venice and the Veneto have voted unofficially to secede from Italy, regional authorities are looking for ways to identify true Venetians so that Italian loyalists from out of town won't be able to rig the results of any legally-binding referendum on secession and reinstitution of the Venetian Republic.
So far, the most popular proposal has been to train volunteer "sniffer dogs" in DNA detection through nasal scanning.
In the photo above, Maggie shows how the process will work:
When a referendum voter attempts to enter a polling place, a trained sniffer dog will collect a sample of the person's DNA nasally. (For reliability, two samples will be collected, one with each nostril.)
The dog's brain will then process the DNA data and compare the result with a chart of known DNA signatures from Venetian families. If a match occurs, the prospective voter will be allowed to enter the polling place. If not, he or she will be exposed as a tourist and offered a discount voucher at local souvenir shops.
No official referendum on independence has been scheduled, so the current DNA-collection plan is merely a pilot project. Still, the city authorities are hoping to recruit a core group of canine volunteers in anticipation of future needs.
Croatia may not directly related to Maggie (or to Venice, for that matter), but we can't resist telling you about Doggycheckin.com, an attractive and easy-to-use Web site with the theme "We make it easier to travel to Croatia with the dog!"
Here's what the Croatian National Tourist Board has to say about Doggiecheckin.com:
"If dogs could speak, they would tell you that we are best friends and that we should never part. And best friends go on holiday together! Croatia is a country where both you and your dog are welcome, so pack your bags and take your dog to the Adriatic or Continental Croatia. Doggycheckin.com is the first website dedicated to tourists who come to Croatia with their dogs, and it is unique not only because you can find all the necessary information in one place, but also because it offers direct bookings in pet friendly hotels, through their partnership with Booking.com."
Doggiecheckin.com isn't just for bookings--it also has practical information about topics such as veterinarians, pet shops, groomers, dog-friendly parks and beaches, public transportation, and required travel documents.
Note:Venezia Lines operates a ferry service between Venice and Croatia. Pets are allowed, but with limitations: Cats must be in cages, and dogs must be no larger than 60 cm in length and 50 cm in height (measured from head to floor).