So, you’ve been fantasizing all winter about spending two weeks basking in the Mediterranean sun, but Scooter, your pooch, has had that hangdog look on his face ever since those slick travel brochures started pouring in. Another so-called “vacation” at Grandma’s where he gets fat on table scraps while you’re off gallivanting in some sun-kissed destination simply won’t do.
Welcome to Bau Bau Village; Italy’s first official dog beach!
In these days of canine acupuncture, cosmetic dog dentistry, and couture dog clothing, it seems only fair that man’s best friend vacation, too. Here’s a holiday tailor-made for the new millennium, when spending quality time with our four-pawed loved ones continues to challenge our busy lifestyles.
Dogs are the top dogs at Bau Bau Village in Albissola Mare on the Ligurian coast – they have been frolicking there since 1997. Owner Elisabetta Dall`Orto, the mastermind behind Bau Bau Village, intended it as a heavenly haven for our furry friends.
Italy has an unfortunate history of pet abandonment during the month of August when Italian globetrotters hit the road for their month-long holiday, often casting their dogs aside. Dall’Orto, a lifelong animal rights activist, created what our trusty friends must, at first glance, think is only a mirage. Lucky for them it’s not. Bau Bau Village is a canine wonderland, established to entice people to bring their pets with them on holiday, rather than leave them to an uncertain fate.
It’s a dog’s life for canines and their companions at Bau Bau, and no bone has been left unturned to provide dogs and their owners with the essentials for an enjoyable day by the sea. But don’t expect to curl up with a trashy novel till sunset; pooper-scoopers are included in the price of admission and each owner is required to scoop their dog’s respective poop. Should your shaggy sun-worshipper decline the use of the sandy “facilities” provided, never fear. All dogs must leave the beach for a walk every two hours to take care of any unfinished business.
Water bowls are doled out to quench your canine’s thirst, and umbrellas offer protection to hounds and humans concerned with premature aging who prefer to slather themselves with sunscreen (yes, they have doggie sunscreen!) and relax in shady bliss. Anti-flea spray is on hand to combat unsightly scratching, and throughout August your pets can discuss all that ails them when the resident doggie psychologist lends a sympathetic ear.
There’s a vet on call in case Scooter gets a boo-boo in a catfight or stubs his toe doing a belly-flop off the floating diving-platform — ingeniously designed so he can climb up without help.
And if rolling in the sand, riding the waves, and doggedly cruising the beach for potential mates isn’t enough, Scooter can show off on the playground. It’s dog-eat-dog on this agility-training course with ramps for climbing, tubes for tunneling, and seesaws for balancing; where mutts and purebreds alike can show what they’re made of.
Even if Scooter aces the obstacle course, only Labradors and Terranovas are permitted to attend the beach’s acclaimed in-house rescue school where dogs are rigorously trained to sense movement in water and carry humans in distress to shore. In recent years, hundreds of human lives have been saved.
So your dog’s more like Underdog than Super Dog…No worries. Have lunch at the beachside café or enjoy the coastal view over a spritzer at the terrace bar while Fifi unwinds with some spa services. After a full-body aromatherapy massage, Fifi is off to her professional makeover where only the finest fur-care products are used. A quick trim and she’s ready to debut her new look at the ever-popular Top Bau Bau Boutique.
After a dog-day afternoon of fun in the sun, you and Scooter may be in search of some nightlife before turning in at a local pet-friendly hotel. Look no further! Feast on regional dishes at the café—no word on doggie bags—while Scooter sits at your feet munching kibbles or searching the sky for dog-star, the chief star of constellation Canis Major or Minor.
Then, it’s off to the “cinema” where each night Bau Bau Pictures presents an internationally acclaimed film or documentary, starring our four-legged friends, and dog training and behavioral videos followed by an open discussion.
At Bau Bau Village, the dog days of summer offer much more than sand between your toes (or paws) and a dip in the sea. From the opening day bash to the end of season farewell, you’re sure to howl over the clever theme-parties hosted by the Bau Bau bigwigs. Hawaiian night, 50s night, the Wizard of Oz, and a Salute to Movie Dogs promise to leave those flocking to this “Rover Riviera” wagging their tails behind them. Note that tourists with tails are expected to dress for the occasion, while costumes are optional for those of us without.
Food, fun, gifts and games are all part of the revelry. Scooter will lick his chops at the thought of participating in the team treasure hunt and having his paw read by the local soothsayer. If all this doesn’t make him dog-tired, dancing to the DJ surely will. Twinkle-toes can cut-a-rug doing the Bunny-hop and the Alley Cat, while pups with four left paws can opt to sit bone-idle for a pet portrait instead.
While the mood is always light, the parties often have a philanthropic twist. All profits from designated events, like the Candle Party, where light is hope for all the less fortunate animals, go to Dall`Orto’s pet project— saving homeless dogs and helping to fund organizations that do the same.
On August 15, 2003, in conjunction with Ferragosto, an Italian national holiday, Scooter gets to strut his stuff on the catwalk to compete for the title of Bau Bau’s Top Dog. All pooches present can enter but the competition is nothing to bark at. Contestants will be judged on beauty, personality, friskiness, and the distance they traveled to get there.
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