Monday, August 31, 2009
A Beach for Dogs
When a dog owner living in Italy, you quickly realize the beauty of spending a day at the beach can be a difficult task to accomplish since it usually means leaving your pet at home for a long day without bathroom privileges--and so that means you can't do it. But alas, Italians have found a way to resolve the problem. Beach facilities have opened that cater to dog owners! My husband and I took our pooch to go swimming in the sea for the first time this weekend. We had to drive 130 km (80 miles) to get from Padua to Bibione, but no matter. It was worth the ride because we were duly impressed with the set-up at Spiaggia di Pluto, a facility at the Eastern end of Bibione's sandy beaches which only allows dog owners as guests.
You are required to rent an "ombrellone" for the day which includes a beach umbrella with table, lounge chair, beach chair, beach bed for your dog, a leash to attach to the umbrella when your dog is not in the water and a water bowl. The umbrellas are distributed at a good distance from one to the other so that the dogs don't get overly territorial with each other. Spiaggia di Pluto also offers doggy shower areas for pooch wash-offs that are separate from the human versions. You can also fill up the dogs' water bowl at those showers. The rules require that you keep your dog on a leash at all times until you reach the water. You clean up after your dog if it leaves any business around. Sea water needs to be tossed over liquid business.
We loved the relaxed atmosphere with lots of families and lazy dogs lounging around. Kids were running around meeting new dogs. Owners were alternating dog walks with swims. They were also meeting each other through the curiosity of asking information about other people's dogs. Some owners were so organized they had doggy life jackets and doggy tents for their beloved animals to use. Several languages were being spoken including German.
We even saw an area reserved for dog agility but it wasn't being used the day we went.
A day at the beach costs between Euro 15 and 20, depending on the season. The facility is open from May to the end of September. Book in advanced during high season, especially on the weekend.
As you pay for your beach space, you can scan over dozens of photos of former dog guests that cover the main desk cabin like wallpaper.
Initiatives like Spiaggia di Pluto are an excellent resource to protect Italy's dog population. Why? Because Italians notoriously abandon their dogs when summer comes since they find their pets a nuisance due to the fact that they are usually not allowed to partake in much of summer's vacation resort system. Along Italy's highways, hundreds of dogs are commonly left at rest stops. By organizing beach facilities designed for canine companions, Italy can combat this bad habit which has led to even the death of a few people. Last year in Calabria a band of semi-wild abandoned dogs had formed an aggressive pack which bit and killed some children. The news really shook up the country. Finally solid actions can be seen to prevent the loss of doggy homes which can lead to such situations.
Spiaggia di Pluto's website also has links for hotels that accept doggy visitors in Bibione in case you would like to be a villaggiatore (tourist) with your furry friend.
La Spiaggia di Pluto
Website in English: