"My Sicilian Souvenir" as told by Emily Griffith
This summer, my friends and I decided that a trip to the Noto Valley in Sicily was just what we needed to celebrate the 40th birthday of one of the members of our quartet. After weeks of research, we agreed a renovated farmhouse overlooking the 300BC town of Scicli would do us just fine.
The first few days of the trip went just as planned: leisurely breakfasts, sunning by the pool, and daily jaunts into surrounding baroque towns. But one particular morning would unfold a little differently. After returning from a run, I hopped the stone fence surrounding our rental property to find a curious little puppy staring back at me. While I wasn't expecting him, I wasn't too surprised—we had encountered stray cats and neighboring dogs wandering the property since our arrival. However, as I sat down to say hello to this little creature I knew we had an immediate connection.
My friends and I spent the afternoon trying to find his owners, leading us to the local pet shop and veterinarian. They explained that my best option would be to turn him into the police, as he didn't have a microchip and therefore was without an owner. The other option was to take him home to Brooklyn, but we were unfortunately out of time to get the necessary vaccinations and paperwork before my return home.
I was heartbroken.
We decided to enlist the help of an Italian friend (more like saint) who now resides in New York, and began the first of many international conference calls to try to find a home for Tonto. (This was the name I decided to give my sidekick pup. Little did I know that it essentially translates to "dopey" in Italian...sorry Tonto!) Two days and many tears later, the local pet shop owner agreed to board Tonto for a month and to try to find him a home in Sicicli.
In the weeks that passed, I received photo updates and emails about Tonto's progress, but his boarders had no luck with finding him a home in Sicily. Then, fate stepped in. I had to make an unplanned trip back to Europe and decided that this was my chance: I simply had to go back to Sicily and pick him up. With the support of family, old friends, new friends, and some downright strangers, I was able to process his paperwork and vaccinations, and arrange the many connecting flights it would take to bring him home. But, most importantly, I received the emotional support necessary to make the journey and successfully bring Tonto to his new home in Brooklyn...where he now sits by my side, destroying his latest chew toy.
As I reminisce about our journey, I almost can't believe it happened. I'm, for real, not the girl who goes to Italy and brings home a dog. Well, I guess I am. But I'm also the girl who is reminded of the bountiful love and kindness that Tonto and I received throughout his journey home. I am forever grateful that in finding Tonto, I found the good in so many others.
Here's to spreading that good, and spreading the love.
Emily & Tonto