A true dog story.The Girl and I

When I rented the small apartment on Fifthteen Avenue and Fletcher Street in Hollywood Florida I did not know that I would have met a great friend there.

I had just moved back from Los Angeles a few weeks before. I didn’t like L.A.Too big too strange,too many earthquakes. I thought I was better off with hurricanes, at least I knew when they were coming. I had driven a cab before in the  Hollywood-Ft.Lauderdale area so , as the new Winter season approached I moved back to Florida and went back to drive a taxi.

She was laying on the floor with a sad look in her eyes like only dogs can have; she didn’t look happy at all. Randy was Marylin’s ten years’ old son and they were living in the main house.

A door in the front yard and one in the back. From the back door there was the entrance to my apartment and “Andy” was always staying there, with that sad look in her eyes. I soon realized why. Randy got a new puppy, he must have been trhee or four months old. He was jumping up and down like puppies do all the time, licking faces and stumbling on water containers, barking for no reasons at ants or roaches or lizards.Andy was sad because all of Randy’s attention was now focused on that hyper dog that was responding to him as he excpected.

“You have got a new dog I see..”

“Yep.you like him?”

“I do!” I love dogs, but what about Andy over there” I said pointing at the black Labrador with the sad look”

“Oh ,she is old, and blind.that is why I got him”

I approached Andy and saw that white look that a dog and a human get on their pupil when they are blind. I massaged  her slowly in the neck .

“How long has she been like this?”

“Two years  now” ”

I noticed that when Randy spoke, the fourteen years old Labrador turned her head towards the voice as if she was asking for some of that love that she needed so badly and was only granted to the new entry.

“She still loves you Randy”

“Yes, I know, but she’s old and blind”

I would have loved to grab the scumbag by the balls and lift him up in the air. I did nothing of course but kept rubbbing Andy’s neck.

“Good girl,good girl”

“We are going to put her to sleep later on today”

I almost fell backwards

“What? Why?”

“We are going to New Jersey for a week and there is no way we’ll take two dogs up there, and..you know she’s blind” I looked at him with a mix of compassion and the urgent desire to kick him and teach him a lesson.

Then I realized that he would have never understood anyhow.

That was the way he was.

He was ten and considered the dog some kind of a toy.

The toy was broken.The toy was quickly replaced.

Nobody could have ever taught him what he needed to know about dogs. I considered myself lucky to have had so many dogs since I was a kid. I cannot remember a single year of my life when I lived without a dog. Big or small, full breed or mixed, male or female. When they died I cried for days and they taught me in my childhood that life is short, they taught me that it is good to cry to let it out, to feel better once the “horse of pain” stops running somehow you realize that life goes on and you will remember that friend you lost and place him in a very special room in your heart forever.

There was no way I’d let that dog being put to sleep.I went to the front door and rang the bell. Randy had left in the meantime with the puppy jumping up and down as they disappeared from the alley.

Marylin opened the door with the phone on her hand.

She was talking about the  old labrador, the toy that was broken. I told her

” I want to adopt the Girl”

“Andy you mean?” She said putting the phone down as the conversation ended.

“I guess you’re a bit too late, they are coming as we speak”

“No no. Marylin.Call them back. I will take care of that dog. no killing please”

“Are you sure? She is blind, fourteen years old, she doesn’t have much time left.”

” I know, I heard the story from that stupid son of yours” I wanted to say , but  I just settled for :”Please,let me take her in with me”

“Ok.Ill call them back.She’s all  yours”

“Thanks Marylin you have just made me happy” I went to the back door and there she was, standing on the entrance,waiting for Randy to come back. I sat by her and started rubbing her back “Good girl,good girl” We soon started our relationship.

During the following days, weeks months Girl and I became good friends. She learned how to go about the apt without bumping her head everywhere.

Iwould  share my best food with her. I treated her like a queen. The time came where I had to go back to Italy,and  I could not leave her behind. I organized myself into taking her with me on the plane.It wasn’t easy but she eventually made it through the ordeal of an eight hours flight. It took her about a week to recuperate her strenght when I got home to Italy. Two years later, after I adopted her, on a rainy night, the Girl wandered outside the house.

I though she went out for a nature call so I did not mind following her outside. She did that many times.

That night  it was raining hard and  and she must have lost her bearings. She crossed the street. An hour later I went to check if she was ok. Found her on the other side of the highway. She was dead. I never cried so much for a dog in my life like I did for Girl. It took me a long time to get over it. Only today, sixteen years later I decided to share her and my story, after Im got my daughter a female labrador,Lola, just to show her how great these dogs can be.I consider dogs to be Angels, sent from above o teach us the laws of living wisely, as we lost them a long time ago and  they still have in their DNA




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The bike accident (from my book my adventurous,wonderful life)


I finally decided to write my book today because it’s Frebruary the 29th…I thought that if i died today they’ll celebrate my anniversary once every four years.
                              CHAPTER ONE
Hey Dude, can you pick me up at the Memorial Hospital?

What happened..are you ok?

I’m ok…how long?

about twenty minutes…you mean the one on Hollywood Boulevard?

C’mon Dude…do you know of any other Memorial Hospital in Hollywood?


Dude…. wake up and smell the coffee…are you a cab driver or not?

Oh…sorry dude…I’ll get there in a flash..

I have a hard time remembering the Dude’s name. We all called him Dude because he used to put that word on his sentences as if it was a comma…so to everyone he was the “Dude”.

All the cab drivers in Broward County knew who he was, and kept away from him. He was a boat’s capitain, an helicopter’s pilot, a champion surfer… a perfect compulsive liar.
He just couldn’ help lying on anything…it was so obvious and imbarassing, but he wasn’t a bad person he had a hart and that was very hard to find in 1997 driving a taxi in Fort Lauderdale.
I “picked him up” from Hollywood Beach one day, almost wasted from the various joints he had smoked even if it was before lunch.. he was going to get busted soon or later by selling bags of pot on the beach so i told him he could drive a cab and make an honest living.

He accepted and I spoke to Mike, our supervisor. He got a cab a week later and I had a “Dude” living with me.

The good part was that I was never at home. I was living at 1536 Fletcher street at that time and the year was 1997. The neighbour was friendly and safe back then and  the rent was only 280 a month.

I was single, happily single in a region that had more girls willing to give it away than palms,so i wasn’t even thinking about getting married,start a family and such.
Before the Dude moved in with me I was living only with the “Girl” a 12 year old black Labrador that I adopted from my landlady when she decided to get her 12 year old son a “new dog because that one was blind”. I’ll talk about the “Girl” later though.
What happened Dude?
I fell from my bike and broke my arm
Near Pier 21 in Port Everglades… I went over the railroad tracks and the front wheel got stuck in the rail..flipping me airborne..when  I landed on top of my hand I felt the pain, someone took me to the hospital an here I am.
Holy Shit..that must have hurt.
Still does..can you take me home now?
Sure…but   how are you going todrive a cab now?
Good question Dude  good question…I’ll think about that tomorrow  now i just want to get some sleep.

I let my thoughts wandering about as we were driving South on US1 as i was unusually seated in the passenger’s seat of a taxi.
Ten years…i thought…ten years I have been driving a cab…how many people..
It was like going to the movies for me, getting behind the wheel early in the morning,trying to catch longer rides to MIA the airport in Miami. I was eager to see what kind of “Humanity” would have show in my back seat.
Most of my passengers talked about their problems to me as if I was some kind of priest listening to their confessions. They knew chances to see me again were slim, so they opened up and talked, asked, cried, laughed,offered grass, cocaine or sex in exchange for a ride..

From the book “my adventurous wonderful life”


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I remember when South Beach looked like a parking lot for elderly people left there by their rich children. I often cruised the strip with my Yellow Taxi in the daytime, (at night it was too dangerous), and watch the building facing the ocean on the West side of Collins Avenue. From the twenties all the way down to fifth street all you could see back then was a quantity of old people sitting on the outside looking at the beach. Who could have ever imagined that years later this would turn out to be the world’s famous South Beach. Miami Vice was being filmed and the eighties were great years for many.

Also for the druglords, attracted by the temperatures and the free hunting for new places to open their vicious markets. Every day i turned the radio on there was a shooting involving this or that particular mafia. The Jamaicans, the Italians, the Cubans, trying to set their territory from one another.

After the killings, and the division of the territory between the druglords, the big money started to flow in faster than the Gulfstream and they had to be re-invested clean and fast.

Bulidings, hotels banks and restaurants came into life in the next years like mushrooms in the woods after heavy rain.

The Skyline of Miami, Miami Beach, South Beach changed from a quiet simple line to the one we know and see now.

It was safe to drive down the strip anytime day or night. The “old farts” that sat in front of the hotels were dumped somewhere else and the casting companies, the fashion artists, and the movie industry moved in changing the looks and the feeling of South Florida forever.

Hallandale looked like a quiet place to live and I rented a small room on 214 terrace, just east of old Federal Higway.It was just a room, if I needed to take a shower i had to ask the owner to go into the house. It was cheap, that is all I cared for.

All the money I had when I came from a small town of Northern Italy was gone. Three hundred dollars, in one night, in New York, after I decided to stay overnight in Manhattan. It was the day of my twentythird birthday when I landed for the first time of my life at JFK.

October 15 1979. I will never forget that ride on the back seat of a Checker Cab, going into Manhattan I could see the skyline getting closer and closer, like a forest of buildings. The Autumn’ sun right behind the Chrisler looked like a huge organge, and by the time we got into the hart of fifth ave, it was dark red.

So i decided that i wanted to live it up, and ended up into a strip-joint, where my money evaporated faster than the steam from the sewer. My first and last time in such a club costed me three hundred and the (kept) promise to never set my “grease-ball” foot again in a night club.

So by the time I landed into the Fort Lauderdale Airport I had only the emergency money that I managed to save between my sock and my left foot. It amounted to fiftysix dollars.

I took a bus South and when I felt it was right, i stepped out and the sign red: US1 and Hallandale Beach Boulevard.

There was an Italian Restaurant there named Doria’s. Went in and got a job as a salad boy, helping Hassan, the pizza man from Iran who was making pizza faster that any italian pizza-men I ever met.

He was hooked on the dogs. There was a Dog-Track, just a few blocks from the restaurant and it seemed to him that the faster he could make those pizzas, the earlier he could go to throw his money away. Hollywood Dog Track, on Pembroke and US1.

I took that really small room from an old man. He asked fifty bucks for the week. I had to take it, I was broke, after all…I couldn’t excpect to be sleeping at the Fointanbleu, after all.

That night i felt asleep as fast as I layed my head on the bed. The room was just big enough to contain the bed.

Later I found out that it was a tool shack reshaped for the occasion (my lodging)…..to be continued