Vito was a puppy from a litter of 13 mixed breeds, in Sicily,Italy. The mother died, and some smart Italians left the litter, on an American Navy dependent’s doorstep. Dogs are mostly wild in Sicily. It is too expensive to keep them up. Most domesticated dogs eat pasta, instead of meat. The new owners took very good care of the puppies. They brought them to the Commissary, on base, to give them away. They were very careful to whom they gave the puppies. My husband was a doctor on the base. So he was able to get the puppy to the veterinarian, while others could not. Most, if not all, of the other 12 died of Parvo. Ours lived! He was quite large, as I wanted a puppy to replace our German Shepherd, Lupo, who died at 15 years of age. I could tell he was part Lab, and maybe a little Dalmatian, and other breeds. Long legs, long torso, long tail ….hair like a Lab. He was Black, with one foot that was speckled with black, on white. On his chest…was the Sign of the Cross, in white.

One day, when Vito was about 1 year old, he “spoke” to us. We were amazed! It sounded like he said “Hello Momma!” He would repeat it later, for a treat.

When we divorced, Vito was pretty far up there, in age. I kept Vito, and my Dalmatian went to my son. So it was just Vito, and me. He did the usual nudging me, or staring at me, if he needed to go out. I am disabled, so both us “old folks” had a difficult time. One day, I told him he needed to learn to say “out” if he wanted to go out. ( I was on the computer a lot and sometimes mistook his signals as wanting some loving)..So, I went to the door with the leash. He knew both meant “out”. I said “Owwwwt” about 3 times, pointing at the door, and then took him out.

The next day, I felt someone looking at me. I turned left, to look at him. He looked back and said “Owwwww”. He was up in age by this time.. From that day forward, Vito told me when he had to go out, by saying “Owwww”, until the day before I had to put him down. I believe he had asbestosis. He was about 12 years old. (I believe, I too, have asbestos from so much asbestosis, in the Navy housing, in the 1990’s, at the Sigonella Naval Air Station.)

I never cried so much for a pet, as I did that day!

But I will always remember my boy! What a loving dog he was!! I have his ashes in a beautiful teak box, with his collar, and a pic of him that looks like he is laughing…on top of the box. They are on my mantle, above the fireplace. He was the BEST friend I ever had! I have not gotten another dog since that day, in 2006. I cannot afford one anymore.
I miss that unconditional love a dog can give you.

So DO NOT tell me you cannot teach an old dog new tricks! And YES! You can teach an intelligent dog how to talk!

— Barbara from Mt. Pleasant, SC