Wednesday, 25 January 2012


I always loved Peter Sarstedt’s hit song, Where Do You Go To, My Lovely. But I never imagined that one day I would have my very own little refugee from the back streets of Naples.

No, not a film star or a top model with humble origins. An adorable little dog.

I can’t claim to be the one who rescued her. That was a friend of my daughter’s, who was working in Naples. One night in November,1996, walking home in the Vomero district, she came across gypsies trying to give away or sell a basket of puppies. She instantly fell in love with one, who she said looked so pretty, but so sad. Several days later Millie was still there, and Anne-Louise could bear it no longer. She dropped off her belongings at her place of work, went back and bought Millie from the gypsy. It was the start of Millie’s new life.

Millie is a very well travelled dog. She was one of the first dogs ever to enter Britain on a pet passport, and has been on road trips to France. She has visited volcanos, parks, beaches, lived in countryside and town. But Anne-Louise’s life was changing. She had married, had two small children and lived in the city. The garden of her house was quite small, as was her car, and she came to feel Millie was no longer enjoying the life she deserved. In the August of 2005 we lost our dear German Shepherd Fritz and Anne-Louise asked Suzie, my daughter, if we would adopt Millie.

I can’t pretend it wasn’t a bit of a culture shock. We’ve always had large dogs, including three German Shepherds, and Fritz was especially huge, almost as big as a small donkey! Millie looked so small by comparison, and her silky ginger fur felt really odd after Fritz’s coarse black hair. But we’ve always chosen to take rescue dogs, and we agreed to have Millie.

That’s when the fun began. Millie has the sweetest nature, but she is also very independent, fearless and without a care in the world. It’s in her genes, I expect, the backstreet survivor. She would escape under the gate and take herself for walks in the nearby fields, I’d be beside myself with worry, but soon she’d be back, trotting in, tail waving, completely unabashed. She also has a sock fetish – any left lying about are pounced upon and carried off with growls of pleasure, though she never tears them.

Unbelievably, Millie was 15 in November. The photo I’ve included was taken only last year, and she looks almost exactly the same as in her pet passport. Sadly, though, in the last year she has aged fast. She’s almost totally deaf, can’t see very well, and has trouble with her back legs – apparently a neurological problem. She can’t turn in a circle, and her legs splay on a polished floor. But she doesn’t seem too worried by it – if she falls over, she just picks herself up again. And on her daily walks she can still run and skip and even jump over obstacles! She can’t go as far these days, and we have to keep an eye on her because although she can’t hear us call her, or see where we are at a distance, she’s as intrepid as ever - probably the most well-balanced dog we’ve ever had! It’s sad to see her ageing and to know that the end is coming. But what a life she’s had – our darling little Italian refugee! Does she remember the back streets of Naples? Probably not. To be honest I think she’s suffering a bit from doggy Altzheimer’s, too. But one thing’s for sure – we will never forget her!


I'm afraid I have to add a really sad postscript to the story of Millie. Yesterday, 31st January, her back legs finally gave up and would no longer support her.

Millie died peacefully in our arms just before midday.

I am so glad I wrote this piece such a short time ago, a fitting memorial to an amazing little dog, who was brave, sweet-natured, and loved by all who knew her. I have been overwhelmed by the kind messages from friends and virtual friends on Twitter and Facebook - thank you all so much.

RIP dearest Millie.


  1. Loved reading about Millie!..Bless her! She landed on her feet when she came to live with you!
    We also have a rescued dog. Phoebe must be about 13 and the years are catching up with her too. Its so sad to see our beloved pets get older but no matter what we shall love our faithful friends forever!

    Loving the blog!

  2. Your wee dog is lovely and after a bad start obviously has had a really good life which is the best we can do for our dogs.I had a wee cross breed who lived until she was seventeen, she was quite deaf too and had to have an eye removed. We now have a German Shepherd who is eight and very big.