Tag: Italy

Well done, Ikea!

That is Ikea in Italy.

This is such a wonderful idea and one that should be seen a lot farther and wider than just Catania, Italy.


At this Ikea store in Italy, homeless dogs get a meal and a safe place to rest

Mary Jo DiLonardo
November 19, 2018
A dog naps in the Ikea store in Catania, Italy. (Photo: rewintageboudoir/Instagram)

There’s something particularly homey about the living room vignettes and kitchen setups in the Ikea store in Catania, Italy. Sprawled on the occasional braided rug or curled up under the sleek dining tables are sleeping homeless dogs. They’ve been welcomed into the store by employees who offer them comfort when the temperatures drop.

Giovanna Pecorino says she takes a photo of the dogs each time she visits the store.

“I know those dogs well,” says Pecorino, who owns a vintage clothing shop in Catania. “You find them at the entrance sleeping between the racks, or at the exit between the tables of their restaurant, always with their sweet eyes. I love them. They give me a sense of peace.”

[There are two more photographs on Instagram that I am unable to copy into this post.]

Linda Chartier Scala, an American from Rhode Island who now lives in Noto, Italy, also photographed one of the dogs that made a temporary home in a makeshift Ikea living room. She is very familiar with the pups, who are mainstays in the store through the seasons.

“Dogs are there year-round,” says Chartier Scala. “They love the air conditioning during the summer. They are sterilized and looked after by an animal welfare group. Fat and happy, they don’t wander from there.”

Shoppers like Scala often post photos of the resting pets on social media, lauding the store and its employees for feeding the homeless dogs and offering them shelter.

“Yesterday, going to the Ikea of Catania I came across this sweet scene, a stray puppy had found shelter in one of the store’s exhibits, this image was wonderful!” wrote mannilvers. “Giving shelter to a stray dog and making it feel at home is simply amazing!”

According to reports on some posts, the dogs are well cared for and quite popular with visitors, who often stop by the store just to check on their favorite canines. And the dogs, who seem to be very respectful of their surroundings, enjoy the attention.

“This is the best story I’ve read in a long time. Human kindness at it’s best,” writes ihelpanimals12018. “THANK YOU.”


“Human kindness at it’s best … ”

This is such a wonderful account of people being loving towards dogs that were homeless.

Last, but no means least, Happy Birthday to Jeannie!

Positive circles!

Or, what goes around, comes around!

Both with animals and with us humans we reap what we sow. Or as I am oft to put it: “Always play with a straight bat for bent bats are practically useless”.

So what has prompted this introspective start to today’s post?

Something that was published on the Care2 blogsite earlier in the month. It was a story about how ex-rescue dogs went on to become dogs that rescued others.  It certainly spoke to me and I feel sure that many of you will be inspired by the story.


Puppy Rescued Day After Italy’s Latest Quake to Become a Rescue Dog

3193677-largeBy: Laura Goldman November 10, 2016

Among the survivors pulled from the rubble of Italy’s latest major earthquake (Oct. 29) was a border collie puppy who was trapped in the town of Norcia for two days.

The puppy was reunited with his owners, who were so grateful for his rescuers’ work that they decided to let the local fire service adopt him.

Now named Terremoto, which is Italian for – you guessed it – “earthquake,” the pup will be trained to pay it forward by becoming a search-and-rescue dog.

Volunteers from the nonprofit ENPA have been helping nearly 1,000 animals rescued after the earthquakes this year in Italy’s central region. ENPA, an acronym for Ente Nazionale Protezione Animali (National Animal Protection Agency), has been around since 1871. It is Italy’s oldest and largest animal rights organization.

 After the 6.6-magnitude Oct. 29 earthquake, at least 900 animals have received assistance from the organization, according to the ENPA website. Almost 160 of them required veterinary care, including 59 dogs, 63 cats, 13 chickens, 10 tortoises, four parrots, five canaries, two geese, one hedgehog and a hamster. Amazingly, only one animal died: a dog rescued from the rubble alive but in serious condition in the town of Nottoria.

So far, at least 78 animals have been reunited with their owners. Police in Perugia adopted two rescued puppies, The Local reports.

A video captured rescuers using their hands to dig out another dog, Ulysses, after they saw his legs sticking out of the rubble. Like Terremoto, Ulysses had been buried alive when the 6.5 earthquake struck. And, like Terremoto, despite his terrible ordeal, Ulysses was checked out by a veterinarian and found to be in good condition.

About 50 trained search-and-rescue dogs worked with more than 5,000 rescuers after a 6.2 earthquake struck the same region of Italy in August. Among the survivors the dogs sniffed out were two children who’d been stuck in the rubble at separate locations for about 15 hours.

Like these dogs, Terremoto will be trained to bark if he detects a survivor less than 7 feet below the rubble. The rescuers will then dig out the survivor by hand. If Terremoto or other search-and-rescue dogs do not bark, it indicates there are no survivors below. In these cases, heavy machinery is brought in to clear the debris, with care being taken in case there are bodies buried in it.

Search-and-rescue dogs usually stop barking about three days after a disaster like a major earthquake. The rescue efforts then become recovery efforts, since victims would not be able to survive that long without water.

Here in the United States, the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation trains rescued dogs to become search-and-rescue dogs. The dogs are saved from shelters and rescue groups across the country.

While I’d like to wish Terremoto a successful career as a search-and-rescue dog, I’m really hoping he never needs to put those skills to use.

Photo credit: ENPA


I am going to close today’s post by republishing what you will read if you go across to the home page of the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation website:

From Rescued…to Rescuer

Founded in 1996, the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Santa Paula, California. Our mission is to strengthen disaster response in America by recruiting rescued dogs and partnering them with firefighters and other first responders to find people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters.


The tail of the dog!

Or should that be the tell of a dog!

In the funny way that items flow around the internet, I recently read an item that appeared on the daily email summary from EarthSky. It was entitled: Read the message your dog sends with his tail. That, in turn, had been prompted by an article published on the website ScienceDirect. It was a study announced in Current Biology and published on the 18 November 2013, (Pages 2279–2282). Here’s how that article opens (and go here to read the numbered references):

Seeing Left- or Right-Asymmetric Tail Wagging Produces Different Emotional Responses in Dogs
Marcello Siniscalchi, Rita Lusito, Giorgio Vallortigara, Angelo Quaranta


Left-right asymmetries in behavior associated with asymmetries in the brain are widespread in the animal kingdom [1], and the hypothesis has been put forward that they may be linked to animals’ social behavior [2 and 3]. Dogs show asymmetric tail-wagging responses to different emotive stimuli —the outcome of different activation of left and right brain structures controlling tail movements to the right and left side of the body. A crucial question, however, is whether or not dogs detect this asymmetry. Here we report that dogs looking at moving video images of conspecifics exhibiting prevalent left- or right-asymmetric tail wagging showed higher cardiac activity and higher scores of anxious behavior when observing left- rather than right-biased tail wagging. The finding that dogs are sensitive to the asymmetric tail expressions of other dogs supports the hypothesis of a link between brain asymmetry and social behavior and may prove useful to canine animal welfare theory and practice.

Graphical Abstract

Wagging tails

In terms of understanding for the non-scientific minded, then the EarthSky article is an easier read.

Read the message your dog sends with his tail

Tail-wagging is a reflection of what’s happening in your dog’s brain. Learn to read your dog’s tail signals, and you’ll know if he’s happy … or stressed.

Tail-wagging in dogs is the classic signal for happiness. But researchers have found that tail-wagging can mean that your dog is either happy or stressed.

Activation of the left-brain causes a dog’s tail to wag to the right. Activation of the right-brain causes a wag to the left. That’s not new knowledge. Scientists detected that difference seven years ago.

What is new is that, not surprisingly, other dogs can easily read the message your dog is sending with his tail. And so can you.

Researchers at the University of Trento in Italy tested 43 dogs of various breeds for their ability to distinguish between tail wags. They showed the dogs videos of other dogs wagging their tails (much like the one above) and monitored the dogs’ heart rates and reactions. How could they be sure that the dogs weren’t watching their canine buddies’ facial or body cues? The researchers also showed the dogs only a silhouetted version of a tail-wagging dog.

As it turned out, every dog responded the same way. Dogs watching other dogs wag their tails to the left looked anxious, and their heart rates increased. In other words, they, too, became stressed. But dogs watching others swing their tails to the right stayed calm and relaxed — an indication that right wags are an expression of companionship and confidence, according to these scientists.

Why study tail wags in dogs? The team said in the summary to their study, which was published in Current Biology last year:

The finding that dogs are sensitive to the asymmetric tail expressions of other dogs supports the hypothesis of a link between brain asymmetry and social behavior and may prove useful to canine animal welfare theory and practice.

Bottom line: A dog wagging his tail to the right is happy, but a dog wagging to the left is stressed, say researchers.

Let me finish off today’s post with the following video.

So here’s to dozens of people watching their dogs’ tails!

When all else fails!

Life is always full of twists and turns.

I ran out of time and inspiration for today’s post; was going to republish something from earlier blogging days.

Then Suzann came to the rescue in sending me an email with a link to the following.  Guess Su wanted me to keep up with some of the strange ideas of us Brits.

Published on Apr 2, 2013

Sacla’  served up a great surprise at John Lewis Foodhall from Waitrose and staged an impromptu Opera in the food aisles.

They planted five secret opera singers who were disguised as casual shoppers and store staff amongst the groceries who broke into song bringing the foodhall to a standstill with a rousing rendition of the Italian classic Funiculì, Funiculà.

I know it was an advertising stunt, but it was very well done!  More please!

The story of transition, part three

Final four short films about Transition.

PLEASE read the closing comment by Rob Hopkins!

A series of 10 delightful short films, courtesy of Transition Culture – For the introduction and the first three films, click here, for the next three click here.

Film Seven – Transition Town Totnes’s Transition Streets Origin: Transition Town Totnes

In December 2009, Transition Town Totnes, the UK’s first Transition initiative, was chosen as one of 20 community  groups in England and Wales to win the ‘Low Carbon Communities Challenge’. Its project, ‘Transition Streets’, was awarded £625,000. In the last 18 months, nearly 500 households have participated in Transition Streets, each, on average, cutting their carbon emissions by 1.5 tonnes.

About a third of those have gone on to install solar photovoltaic systems. However, the main benefits that people who have participated talk about are the social connections they have made and how they now feel so much more a part of their community. It has also acted as a platform for all kinds of other initiatives as neighbours start to get a taste for working together.

Film Eight – A Small Pennant Flag Origin: Transition Town Monteveglio (Bologna, Italy)

Transition Town Monteveglio (TTM) was the first Italian Transition initiative. In 2009 its local Comune (local Council) passed an amazing resolution that offers a stateof-the-art taste of what it looks like when a council really ‘gets’ peak oil and climate change, stating: “… a view of the future (the depletion of energy resources and the significance of a limit to economic development), methods (bottom-up community participation), objectives (to make our community more resilient, i.e. better prepared to face a low energy future) and the optimistic approach (although the times are hard, changes to come will include great opportunities to improve the whole community’s quality of life)”.

It has led to all kinds of initiatives and projects, including a local currency and renewable energy installations. Our object here is the Comune’s official pennant.

Film Nine – A Small Bag of Topsoil Origin: Transition Norwich’s food initiatives

It is one thing to start local food projects, but quite another to think strategically about how those projects sit in the larger context of the intentional relocalisation of the area. Transition Norwich, together with East Anglia Food Link, produced a study called ‘Can Norwich Feed Itself?’ which worked out that it could, albeit with a simpler diet, but that it would need certain new infrastructures put in place. This included a new mill to enable locally produced grains to be milled, two CSA farms (hence our object, a soil sample from their first CSA site), community gardens and research into varieties of beans and oats that will grow well in the area.

A successful application to the Local Food Fund enabled these to become a reality. It is a fascinating example of why we need to think strategically about the localisation of food. As Tully Wakeman, one of the co-ordinators, told me: “A trap a lot of NGOs fall into is over-thinking about vegetables (yet) only one tenth of what we consume, in calorific terms, comes from fruit and vegetables… where is the other 90% going to come from? Growing vegetables in gardens, allotments, community gardens and so on offers a degree of food security and can happen relatively rapidly.

However the other 90% requires the rebuilding of the infrastructure required for growing, processing, cleaning, storing, milling and distributing grains and cereals, and that takes longer and requires more planning”.

Film Ten – Beer, A Bottle of Sunshine Ale Origin: The Lewes Community Power Station

The Ouse Valley Energy Service Company (OVESCO) is one of the offshoots of Transition Lewes focused on the installation of renewables in and around the town as well as promoting energy conservation and local economic resilience. In 2011 it took on its most exciting and ambitious project to date installing a 98kW solar photovoltaic array on the roof of local brewery, Harveys. This will turn the building into one of the first community-owned solar power stations in the country.

The 544 photovoltaic (PV) panels will generate 93,000kWh of green electricity each year – enough to save more than 40 tonnes of CO2 annually.

A community share launch event took place in April 2011 attended by 300 people. Within five weeks the target of £307,000 had been reached. Money invested will be repaid in full at the end of the 25 year scheme, or earlier at the request of the investor and subject to conditions. While the investment is held a dividend will be paid after the first year which is expected to be around 4%.

Our object is a bottle of ‘Sunshine Ale’, a special commemorative beer brewed to celebrate the launch of the scheme. Very nice it is too.

A final few words from Rob Hopkins.

Whittling down to these 10 objects has been very difficult but I hope what you have gained is a sense of something infectious, reaching beyond the idea of small individual initiatives, and arguing that localisation is the best way for the places in which we live to return to health. Various learned writers and academics have tried to encapsulate what Transition is, but I still think the best description of its spirit comes from Tove Jansson in Comet in Moominland in 1946, who wrote: “It was a funny little path, winding here and there, dashing off  in different directions, and sometimes even tying a knot in itself from sheer joy. (You don’t get tired of a path like that, and I’m not sure that it doesn’t get you home quicker in the end).”

Rob Hopkins is the co-founder of Transition Town Totnes and Transition Network and blogs at www.transitionculture.org

Mount Vesuvius

One thousand, nine hundred and thirty-two years ago, today, there was a loud bang in Italy!

On the 24th August, in the year 79 A.D. the residents of Pompeii would undoubtedly had very little time to ponder on the consequences of a volcanic eruption just five miles away.

Vesuvius as seen from Pompeii.

Indeed, as the website Classroom of the Future explains,

Try to imagine huge, billowing, gray-black clouds like those at Mount St. Helens rushing toward you at a hundred miles an hour. That is probably what the ancient Romans saw just before they were entombed by hot ash.

There is much material available for those that wish to read more about the devastating effects of that volcanic eruption, so superfluous to add much more here.  The Classroom of the Future link is as good a place to start as any.  What I would like to comment on is this – but first a picture,

Vesuvius and nearby cities

What is worth noting that in 2009 the CIA Factbook records that the population of Naples was 2,270,000 people.  Naples is very close to Vesuvius.  As WikiPedia puts it,

Mount Vesuvius (ItalianMonte VesuvioLatinMons Vesuvius) is a stratovolcano on the Bay of NaplesItaly, about 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) east ofNaples and a short distance from the shore. It is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years, although it is not currently erupting.

Here’s another reference,

There is a saying in Italy that goes ‘vedi Napoli e poi muori’. Translated, this means ‘see Naples and die’. The actual meaning of this refers to being overwhelmed by what a beautiful and an incredible city Naples is. (although some may argue that what it really means that Naples is such a dangerous and chaotic city that it will kill you!)

H’mmm. Get the timing wrong and that saying could have a literal meaning way beyond the ancient author’s intent!  I quote from the website Geology.com,

Starting in 1631, Vesuvius entered a period of steady volcanic activity, including lava flows and eruptions of ash and mud. Violent eruptions in the late 1700s, 1800s and early 1900s created more fissures, lava flows, and ash-and-gas explosions. These damaged or destroyed many towns around the volcano, and sometimes killed people; the eruption of 1906 had more than 100 casualties. The most recent eruption was in 1944 during World War II. It caused major problems for the newly-arrived Allied forces in Italy when ash and rocks from the eruption destroyed planes and forced evacuations at a nearby airbase.

But for all it’s power, the Vesuvius eruption of the 24th August, 79 was a squib compared to the Toba eruption some 73,000 years ago. More on that one in a few days perhaps.