Daisy's Sicilian Story

Last month whilst at home in Sicily we had to make the heart breaking decision to send our beloved furbaby Daisy over rainbow bridge.

In December last year as we arrived back home in London, after our annual autumn trip to our Sicilian house, Daisy became lame in her front left leg, at first we thought it was a sprain but it did not get better, after many tests and x-rays with our vet in London he believed that the problem was neurological and referred her to North Surrey Animal Referral Clinic for a CT scan. Thereafter she was sadly diagnosed with a rare nerve sheath tumour in her chest which was inoperable. Our vet could not tell us how long Daisy had left with us, 3 months, 6 months, one year, maybe longer. He told us that the tumour and lameness was not effecting her quality of life and that she was in no pain and to carry on with life as normal. The tumour was growing downwards through her leg but he said that if it started to grow upwards we would be having a complete different conversation. He said that Daisy would let us know when it would be her time to go. 

Daisy adapted quickly with walking on three legs and with the help of a dog stroller for when she got tired walking she was able to carry on with a normal life and was still able to travel to Sicily. Whilst most people in public were sympathetic to Daisy's lameness and seeing her being pushed in a stroller we also received a lot of abuse and unpleasant looks from people in the UK who knew nothing about us and Daisy’s happy life with us, we never experienced this problem in Europe. 

Daisy was an amazing dog who was loved by everyone she met, she had a heart shaped patch on her nose and eyes that looked like she applied black eyeliner everyday with the most longest eyelashes I have ever seen on a dog. 

Any one who saw her would have to smile after seeing her big Staffordshire bull terrier smile coming towards them. 

She loved socialising and meeting people and her favourite pastime was visiting the pub. 

Aside from visiting her Sicilian house she also enjoyed trips to the Isle of Wight to our families apartment in Cowes and her favourite beach in the UK was at Camber Sands in East Sussex. 

The loss of Daisy has absolutely broken our hearts and also those of many others including my Blog followers all over the world who although they never met her felt like they knew her via my posts. 

Daisy made my Sicily Blog unique. 

This is her Sicilian story .....

The Puppy Road Trip ...

In March 2011 I was working in Primrose Hill in London and a local lady, who we knew fostered rescue dogs for a charity called All Dogs Matter in North London, was walking past where I was working at that time with a tiny eight week old tan and white Staffordshire bull terrier cross puppy that had just been rescued that day after being abandoned in Camden Town. The puppy was all wrapped up in a little orange blanket, she was gorgeous and she knew it.

I went home that evening and told my husband about her, we checked the All Dogs Matter website and found her listed for adoption. My husband made an appointment to meet this gorgeous puppy the next day and as her foster-fur-mum Shirley said, it was love at first sight for both man and dog, we called her Daisy. She was named after the Staffordshire Bull Terrier in the movie Snatch which starred Brad Pitt. 

We vowed that we would never leave her alone and so that meant taking Daisy to Sicily with us, we just needed to find a way how. 

So twice a year we made the long journey to our Sicilian house by road and by ferry and this journey became known as "the puppy road trip".

The puppy road trip took a lot of initial research and started at the Eurotunnel in Folkestone followed by an overnight stay in Dijon in France, then we would drive through the French Alps and the Mont Blanc tunnel down to Genova to board a ferry to Palermo which takes twenty hours in the comfort of a dog friendly cabin with a Fido Park on the top deck for walkies and toilet business.

Daisy was a little bit of a celebrity and was a poster girl for Eurotunnel with a photo of her big smile on the beach at Giardini Naxos adorning the banner of the dog exercise area in both Folkestone in UK and Calais in France.

Daisy embarked on her first puppy road trip at just eight months old and she loved it and from then on she knew that when we packed the car that it was time to go to her second home and the beach. She knew the journey off by heart, adored the owners of the hotel we stayed at each time in Dijon (they used to give us a room with an extra single bed for her), she would sleep in the back of the car the whole way and know the exact route on our GNV ferry to reach the dog friendly cabins.

The puppy road trip inspired many other four legged friends and their paw parents to follow in her footsteps and I am happy that her trip inspired many others in order to take their pets this way not only to Sicily and mainland Italy but other destinations in Europe even as far as Bulgaria. 

Home sweet home ...

Our ferry to Palermo usually arrives in Sicily around 8pm then it is about another three hours until we reach home. 

As soon as we would arrive Daisy had the ritual of running around the full length of our balcony that runs all the way around our house and then up to our roof terrace for a game of ball, please keep in mind that it is not much before midnight when we arrive home, then she would have a dinner of chicken or minced beef bought from our local butcher which our lovely friend Norma would have left in our fridge for her after she would go in to turn on our electric and water ready for our arrival. Then she would head off to our bed for a good nights sleep ready for the start of new Sicilian adventures.

Daisy's favourite part of her Sicilian house was the roof terrace but her other favourite spot was on the sofa snuggling in with all the cushions. 

Every morning in Sicily she would go to the beach early but the cheeky girl used to love to play a game of chase first around the house darting in and out of the rooms and the doors that lead out of every room onto our balcony. Heavens knows what our neighbours would think seeing us chasing her "The crazy English couple and their dog are back home again !!!". Yayyyyyy !!!

Beach life ...

Daisy had two favourite beaches, La Cambusa Beach Club located by the marina in Giardini Naxos and Spiaggia San Marco in our neighbouring town of Calatabiano. When driving down to the beach she would sit on my lap with her head out the window crying and shaking all over with excitement. I always knew that my Blog followers were always waiting for that all important first day at the beach photograph with her big smile on the beach with Taormina in the background behind her.

Beach activities were playing with her tennis ball in and out the sea and digging massive holes that she was always proud of. The beach would become what we would call "the construction site" with the amount of holes she dug and she was once even offered a job digging a hole by a local fisherman so that he could moor his boat on the beach. Whilst she would go into the sea she would only go in as far as up to her belly and if I went any further into the sea she would cry with worry until I would come back closer to the shoreline.

On the beach she had a little friend called Cheerio, a Jack Russell who belonged to one of the fisherman, who used to come and sit with us, but god forbid if he went any where near her precious tennis ball, a sharp bark would let him know that it was her ball not his.

When beach time was over the happy Daisy was gone and sad Daisy took over and if any one could see her doing a sit down protest refusing to leave we would have looked liked the most cruelest pawparents in the world. 

In Spring 2021 we was evicted from La Cambusa Beach after it was used exclusively as a filming location for the US TV series The White Lotus whose second season was set in Sicily. Daisy's part of the beach set the scene for the arrival of the fictional hotel guests by boat including Hollywood actress Jennifer Coolidge. It was quite often during this time that we would be stopped in our car whilst filming was in progress about town and blacked out mini buses were heading down and back up to Taormina all day. 

The beach was off limits for two weeks and so we headed to her other favourite beach at Spaggia San Marco. The beach here is a lot more tranquil and set in beautiful countryside. It was quite often on this beach that a handsome young Labrador named Zoltan would come along like a princely vision to play with Daisy. Zoltan is the dog of our good friend Valerio (like a little brother to be honest) whose family own the stunning Hotel Castello San Marco which is set just back from the beach, because of this it was often quite a feat to get Daisy back into our car as she would try to get through the back gate of the castle to try and find her Uncle Valerio.

Another beach we used to visit but not as often, mostly if the weather was not too good, was at Recanati, the zone in Giardini Naxos where all the big tourist hotels are located. I can remember on one visit her rolling on a dead fish on the beach and to say that she stunk is an understatement. 

After the beach we would always go for a coffee at one of her favourite bars Cafè Schisò on the beach and then drive around the port of Giardini Naxos then along the seafront with Daisy again on my lap hanging out the window watching the world go by. Once we was back home the pressure was on for us to take her up to our roof terrace for relaxation and lunch until sundown when she would be ready for her evening activities.

The roof terrace ...

Our roof terrace was Daisy's place to be in her Sicilian house. She did not like to sleep in direct sunshine all day and so we used to set up a makeshift tent using old sheets and two patio chairs. Daisy was scared of some funny little things in her life especially wind, which apparently is a Staffie thing, and so she hated umbrellas and parasols because they would flap around in the wind on the terrace so they were patio items that could not be used when she was in residence.

This was also the case for the washing line and washing flapping around in the wind and so again when Daisy was in residence I would have to use an airer on our balcony and I just know that my neighbours would be thinking "the English couple have that lovely big roof terrace to dry their clothes on yet they use an airer on the balcony" I would also have to put the airer located somewhere on the balcony where Daisy could not see it as she was also scared of that after it fell over on top of her once on a windy day. 

Other things she was scared of was flying buzzing things like flies, wasps and bees, and in Sicily we have the Nero d'Ape (the Black Bee) and if one of these babies landed on the terrace it would be like a jumbo jet landing and would cause her to jump up and run downstairs to her favourite spot on the sofa until it was safe to return back upstairs. 

One fun activity was chasing any birds that attempted to land on the terrace and this was something that birds learned not to do when Daisy was home.

Whilst Daisy loved her makeshift tent it would be quite often that when I would head downstairs to make lunch that when would I would return that she would have stolen my sun bed and give me a look as if to say "and your problem is?". Most days at home we usually use our BBQ for lunch which is located outside my Sicilian kitchen which wafts up yummy smells up to the terrace to Mr K and Daisy. Daisy used to like mini hotdogs barbecued and she was also quite partial to Salsiccia (Sicilian sausage).

In the afternoon she used to enjoy playing ball with one of us standing at each end of the terrace kicking the ball up and down, and anyone that came to visit us would have to join in the game too, this activity happened at the same time every afternoon and if we were asleep on our sun bed she would bounce the ball loudly on the floor tiles or place the ball at the end of the sun bed. 

I think though that her favourite time of day was sundown where she used to jump onto the end of Mr K's sun bed for a brush and massage watching the sunset over Mount Etna but as soon as the sun crashed into the volcano she would be up and ready to commence the evening activities.

Restaurant life ...

Daisy loved socialising and in fact many of our friends in Sicily and across the world we actually met through Daisy, having a dog in Sicily is such a good way to make friends.

It takes us around five minutes to walk down to our seafront but this could actually turn into hours as people would stop to say hello to her and we would always have to stop to say hello to our local car mechanic Saro whose garage we would have to pass along our way who she adored. If he was busy we would have to wait until she got to see him. 

Emerging onto the seafront we would let Daisy decide which way she wanted to go, if she turned left then we knew she was heading to the lovely Trattoria Antonio to see her friend Martina and Martina's father Piero who is the chef there, who by the way makes the most delicious salmon and pistachio arancini. 

If Daisy turned right then we were entering what we called "the Daisy triangle" .....

Turning right usually would entail going for an apertivo at one of her two favourite bars Cafè Schisò or Italianicius Lounge Bar. I can remember one time her being surrounded by Sicilian school children on a school trip feeding her ice cream in Cafè Schisò. Daisy also loved DJ Armando who used to do an 1980’s set here every Sunday evening.

After aperativo we would then enter the Daisy triangle. 

The Daisy triangle consisted of three restaurants, hence the nickname "triangle", there is Ristorante Royal located by the marina where she would like to see her "Zio Saro", Ristorante Spizzicanu where she was completely spoilt by Giovanni, his wife Sabrina and all their team and then there is Ristorante Pippo Lupo di Mare owned by our friend Antonia. Pippo's was the first restaurant we ate in after we signed the papers to purchase our Sicilian house and Pippo and his wife Cristina, the mamma of Antonia, soon became like family to us and we were devastated when they both passed away within a year of each other recently.

Daisy was always so well behaved in restaurants either sitting under the table or laying on the floor looking like a little piglet. We have always found restaurants in Sicily dog friendly, there is only one restaurant where the owners wife does not like dogs and considers them dirty and so used to make it very obvious that she did not like Daisy being inside her restaurant and so we stopped going there.

Daisy loved her restaurants so much that she used to refuse to leave and sometimes had to be carried out by Mr K. She probably understands the Sicilian dialect more than me and knew that word "Amunini" translates to "Lets go!!!" and this was a word that she did not want to hear. I can remember on one night out that Mr K thought it would be a good idea if I ran ahead up front as we left Spizzicanu thinking that she would follow me but instead the accident prone me slipped on wet volcanic ash after rainfall and landed on my hands and knees with multiple cuts and grazes. Daisy did try to lick them better though. 

Another of her favourite places to socialise at for lunch was Bar Vitelli located in the hill top town of Savoca, located just north of Taormina, famously known as the bar used as a filming location in The Godfather Part I, although I am not sure she could come to terms with the cats and and kittens that frequent the bar and would be thinking to herself "Cats in bars, really ???". 

She also had a favourite restaurant in Taormina 'Ristorante Rosmarino' located opposite the main gates of the public gardens where she adored the owner Rita and vice versa. However, being the true pub dog that she was the place to be in Taormina for Daisy was at our friends Tony and Isabella’s pub Time Out.

The Queen of Taormina ...

Daisy loved visiting Taormina and after the beach every Sunday morning we would head up there in our car for breakfast at the Bam Bar. But first we would have to endure her pulling us like a steam train down the Corso Umberto stopping at various shops, restaurants and bars to see friends and people that we know who work up there until she reached her breakfast destination. After breakfast it was a ritual to go to the public gardens for a wander and to look for any stray tennis balls that might have gone astray from the tennis club. Finding a tennis ball in there would be like winning the lottery for Daisy, then after she used to like to go and visit the resident parrots in the aviary. 

She had many nicknames in Sicily and a lot of people called her "Margherita" (Daisy in Italian), "Bedda" (Beautiful in Sicilian dialect), Lady D, Principessa (Princess) or "Regina" (the Queen) but mainly Daisy was known as "Regina di Taormina" (the Queen of Taormina). 

It was often that the Queen of Taormina would pull in quite a crowd as tourists would always want to stop and talk to her and were always fascinated by how an English dog lived in Sicily.

Often it would be the case that I will need to go up to Taormina alone to meet friends or for meetings with contacts or help my friend Isabella, a wedding planner, with one of her destination weddings and so Mr K and Daisy would drive me up and come to pick me up after. As most of you know the drive up and down to and from Taormina is stunning with winding roads and stunning views of the Ionian Sea, Isola Bella, the Bay of Naxos and Mount Etna almost resembling a driving scene out of a James Bond movie. Without me in the car Daisy would sit in the passenger seat which would grab the attention of fellow drivers and people walking as in our English car the steering wheel is on the opposite side to European cars. She literally would stop the traffic. Our friend Vincenzo owner of Sicily Tours and Excursions by Franco Group always said that he wanted to get a little toy steering wheel to put in front of her. I can remember one day being in his yard and Daisy was wandering around with all the drivers and then went missing, after panicking we found her on a blacked out minibus which she had boarded. Maybe she wanted a lift up to Time Out Pub in Taormina.

Brexit and Covid ...

Brexit was the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union and it caused a big problem for our Sicilian house and for pet travel in the EU. As soon as we adopted Daisy we had applied for a European pet passport for her, with this passport it was possible for us to jump in our car and travel at any moment to our Sicilian house with her. Apart from the initial set up and the three yearly rabies vaccine booster required for travelling through Europe it cost nothing for her to travel. 

After Brexit the EU Pet Passport scheme was abolished and a EU Animal Health Certificate (AHC) was introduced. This ten page document which has to be filled out by a vet was more like we was exporting livestock into Europe than a family pet. It is also very expensive costing up to £200 each trip and your pet can only stay in Europe for up to 120 days, mind you that is more than I am allowed to stay in Europe, with my British passport I can only stay for up to 90 days. In order to obtain the form your pet must visit your vet for a health check within 10 days before the day you travel, no more impulsive just jumping in our car and driving off into the Sicilian sunset. The silver lining is that through this scheme we met our wonderful Sicilian vet who would complete the last page of the form in order for Daisy to travel back to UK.

When the Covid pandemic closed down the world it made it difficult and impossible to go home to our Sicilian house. Whilst we could have risked driving down we did not want to get stranded somewhere between London and Sicily in quarantine or risk one or both of us contracting Covid and being hospitalised leaving Daisy abandoned. In all we had to cancel three road trips home to Sicily. On one scheduled trip we had to change course because of quarantine regulations between the French and Italian border and decided to drive via Germany and Switzerland. Driving through Switzerland ran risks as in some regions Staffordshire Bull Terriers were on a banned list as dangerous dogs, which I really do not understand because they are one of the most loving breeds with the right owners. We had just finished fully packing our car and Daisy was getting excited when we heard on the news that Switzerland had closed their borders to UK residents. 

During the pandemic our brave Daisy underwent an operation to remove two lumps from her back and one from her shoulder after biopsies had shown that they had cancerous cells. It was an awful day waiting for our vet to call and say that everything was ok and thereafter the lumps and surrounding skin tissue was sent to the laboratory for testing. After a long six weeks of waiting the results came back that the cells were the lowest cancer percentage possible and that it had not spread and for this news we were truly grateful.

Sicilian Adventures ...

In her almost thirteen years of visiting Sicily our little girl embarked on many adventures.

Daisy visited almost every town on the eastern side of Sicily, also Palermo and Cefalù but most of all I think she always loved a visit to Ortigia and Marzamemi.

Some of her adventures that come to mind are visiting a master Sicilian puppet makers workshop although she was not too impressed by the puppet performance and the noisy sword fights, olive harvesting and going to the press after to make olive oil, a ride on the back of a tractor at an citrus farm, a visit to the Mediterranean herb farm Gli Aromi, walking around Radicepura a botanical garden on Mount Etna, searching for Harrison Ford in Ortigia after we heard that the fifth instalment of Indiana Jones was being filmed there (only one of us managed to get under the cordoned off tape and it was not me!), gate crashing the filming of Inspector Montalbano in Scicli and having her photo taken with the actor who plays Caterella, walking in the footsteps of the movie Cyrano in the baroque town of Noto, enjoying aperativo at Hotel Villa Angela which is owned by Jim Kerr the lead singer of the band Simple Minds, praying in the Church of Madonna della Rocca high above Taormina and sinking into the icy waters of Gole Alcantara like a hippopotamus to cool off her belly much to the amusement of all the tourists visiting there. 

One experience that she used to enjoy was visiting an agriturismo and it was at these fun places that we found out that she had a passion for goats and pigs. An agriturismo is primarily a farm with a number of rooms for guests where you can enjoy the taste of local produce, wine and local dishes and be made to feel part of the family. They are usually restored farm houses located on quiet beautiful terrain with farm animals. 

On Daisy's first visit to one at Agriturismo Ghiritina in Motta di Camastra in the Alcantara Valley she encountered her first goat friends, thereafter if we would pass a field full of goats or even better if our car was to get surrounded by a herd of goats down a country lane she would get very excited and cry. 

When she was a puppy we was invited up to some stables on the slopes of Mount Etna owned by the lovely people at Sicily Horse Riding and it was here that she met Anita the pig, apparently Anita was bought as a pet pygmy pig but did not stop growing and had an appetite for pandoro, the Italian Christmas cake. It was love at first sight for both dog and pig and they got to see each other again on several occasions. 

A few years back we were invited to Agriturismo Giardino del Sole in Lentini, close to Catania, after I met the owner Marco at the World Travel Market expo in London. On arrival Marco gave us a tour of the farm and introduced us to all the animals and Daisy somehow got in the pig sty and rolled herself in the pig poo and she thought she smelt fantastic. Much to Marco's effort of trying to wash her under a outside tap the fragrance would not disappear. I have since heard that pig poo is one of the most potent poop scents of the animal kingdom. We then had to endure lunch in the restaurant with Daisy radiating the most awful odour and also endure a very fragrant drive home in our car where she was instantly put in the bath on arrival back at home which she really was not amused with. 

In 2017 the 43rd G7 summit was held in Taormina, attendees included Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May. There was rumours of demonstrations being held in Giardini Naxos as Taormina had security like a ring of steel around it and so we decided to head out of town to Graniti in the Alcantara Valley where we stayed up in the mountains at Agriturismo San Cataldo. After a long drive up the mountain we was greeted by the resident Saint Bernard dog called "Wilson". Wilson took one look at Daisy and it was love at first sight, well for him anyway. The next morning when I woke to the sound of goat bells and opened our log cabin door there sitting on the doorstep was Wilson waiting to accompany Daisy up to breakfast in the main house. The owner told us that Wilson had got up early and he had wondered where he was heading and guessed that he was off in search of the little English dog. After a couple of lovely days in the countryside we headed back to Giardini Naxos leaving behind a heart broken Wilson. 

Another more dramatic antic was when we was driving through a small town with Daisy sitting on my lap and a police car drove towards us in the opposite direction and obviously not seeing that we had a English number plate assumed that I was driving with her sitting on my lap, as Mr K looked in his rear view mirror he saw the police car turn on his lights and sirens and spin around so Mr K hastily put his foot down on the accelerator and sped off towards the next entrance for the motorway. Phew! 

One of Daisy’s favourite trips to Sicily was when her “Uncle H” came to stay with us. Harvey has been Mr K’s best friend and sidekick since they started work together at age sixteen and the rest as they say is history, he was also his best man at our wedding. Daisy was so excited meeting her Uncle H in arrivals at Catania Airport and could not wait to take him to her beach. Together we all enjoyed showing him The Godfather filming locations, Ortigia and Marzamemi, we went olive harvesting and to the olive press to make oil and spent a day up in Taormina and Castelmola. She also enjoyed introducing him to all her friends in Sicily. When he went back to UK he left behind a sad Daisy who slept on his bed in our guest for the next few nights. 

Daisy has enjoyed many adventures on Mount Etna. It only takes us an hour to drive up to the lower craters and whilst she likes the southern craters I think she prefers the northern side of the volcano and this could be something to do with the fact that there are more herds of goats on the northern craters than the southern. 

By far her most loved volcanic adventure was with our friend Simona founder of Tripping Sicily and Lorenzo a Volcanologist at Etnafinder. Simona invited us to join them on the north eastern slopes exploring in a 4x4 Defender jeep followed by a hike on Monti Sartorius. Daisy just loved being in the back of the jeep going off road on old lava flows and exploring the pine forests and lava caverns on the mountain. Whilst I found myself trying to keep up with everyone and trying not to fall over the mountainside, which I found out after was a trail used for training triathlon participants, Daisy was at the front full steam ahead with Lorenzo. After our hike we was rewarded with wine tasting at the Fischetti Winery in Castiglione di Sicilia.

Visiting wineries and vineyards was another activity that Daisy enjoyed and in particular the Gambino Winery which is owned by the family of our friend Francesco and it was here that Daisy spent her final day eating cheese, salsiccia and cannoli underneath our table. 

Rainbow bridge ...

On the 19th October we went with our American friends from Ohio and Carmelo, a local taxi driver and good friend who took us all up in his minibus to the Gambino vineyard. That morning we took Daisy as usual to the beach first. 

Every morning I would pick a bright pink flower from an oleander tree near the beach and tuck it into Daisy's collar. I picked one and did the same thing that morning and then headed home to wait for Carmelo to collect us. When he arrived Daisy saw him waiting outside our house with his taxi and was so excited as she knew she would be heading on an adventure. Funnily we actually first met Carmelo at Gambino in 2014 when Daisy was just three years old. Daisy seemed more tired that day and wanted to spend more time in her stroller than walking but when we arrived at Gambino Winery she recognised where she was and was adamant that she was going to walk to the main building. She had a wonderful day albeit she did not seem herself. We got back to home early evening and Mr K had to carry her up our stairs and she went to bed early. 

That night I had the most traumatic dreams about her. Since her diagnosis I had found myself on constant alert and worrying about her, I woke up and saw her fast asleep on the end of our bed and she was ok. 

We always have our morning coffee on our balcony outside our kitchen and bedroom and then get ready for the beach but that morning when we said to Daisy "Come on lets go to the beach" she could not stand up. Mr K picked her up and tried to get her to stand up on the floor but she had lost the use of all her legs, my dream had become a reality. Mr K carried her down our stairs and put her into our car and we took her to her favourite beach and it was here that we had to make the decision that broke our hearts.

Luckily we do have the most wonderful vet in our neighbouring town of Calatabiano and it was in his caring surgery that Daisy fell peacefully asleep in my arms.

We truly believe that she chose to pass on her happy island. 

L’Ultima Coccola …

Our vet asked what we wanted to do next and we said that we wanted to take her ashes back to London and he made a call to a company in Giarre called L'Ultima Coccola and it was here that we met the angel who is Grazia Messina. 

L'Ultima Coccola in English means the final cuddle.

On arrival we was in complete shock and in tears but Grazia was so kind and sat us down in her office and made us coffee. She helped us to arrange for Daisy to have a private funeral and to pick a beautiful casket to take Daisy home in. It was such a sad meeting and it was like we was arranging a funeral for a human member of our family, this would never have happened in the UK. Daisy would have a funeral fit for the princess that she was. As we were leaving one of their private cars left immediately to collect Daisy and by the time we had arrived back to an empty home Grazia messaged me to say that Daisy was with her and we knew that she was now in her caring hands. 

Daisy's funeral was held in the morning four days later and we could collect her that afternoon. My friend Isabella drove us the next morning to collect Daisy and again we was shown the most wonderful kindness and sympathy. 

We are now still in contact with the lovely people there and will meet up with them again on our next trip. Even after she had gained her angel wings Daisy was still connecting us to new friends.

We took her home and laid her casket in her favourite spot on the sofa amid the cushions. 

Daisy's legacy ...

Back at home we were finding it hard to be there without hearing the pitter patter of Daisy's little paws on our ceramic floors and so we still went out at the same time every morning and we walked and we walked and we walked. We walked to Recanati past all the big tourist hotels and along the beach there, then back again to walk around the port then down to La Cambusa Beach where we would sit for a while. 

One of the hardest things was seeing people on our walks and having to explain what had happened, most people in Giardini Naxos have known her since she was a puppy and had their own memories of her. It was also hard seeing Cheerio on the beach with him wondering where she was and why he was not being barked at for trying to steal her tennis ball.

One morning we walked all the way to our train station which was used as a filming location in The Godfather Part III. We looked at the train timetable and decided that we would do a few train journeys. Whilst dogs are allowed in most places there are some places where they are prohibited due to cultural and archaeological restrictions and so we took the train to Messina and to Catania twice. We climbed the hundreds of steps of the astrological clocktower of the Duomo of Messina and the hundreds of steps to the top of the cupola in the Cathedral of Saint Agata in Catania, an activity that Daisy definitely would not have been impressed with. We also visited the Museo Storico dello Sbarco in Sicilia 1943 (the Museum of the Allied Landings in Sicily). 

We also started taking the bus up to Taormina instead of driving, we were like tourists again. 

Neither myself or Mr K had an appetite after losing our furbaby but we continued to still visit our usual restaurants because we knew that it would have been what she would have wanted us to do, everyone was so kind and made us smaller portions like meat involtini or fish involtini and cotoletta (breaded fried veal) so that we would be eating some kind of protein. "You must eat for Daisy" they would tell us. 

All the time whilst Daisy was no longer with us we knew there she was there walking by our side and sitting underneath our table with her angel wings. 

Little did we know that Daisy had set a mission for us back in the UK. 

Daisy's mission ...

A week after Daisy gained her angel wings Mr K received a phone call from Ira at All Dogs Matter the charity that had rescued her almost thirteen years ago. Daisy's foster mum Shirley had told her about Daisy crossing rainbow bridge and Ira asked if we could send her a photo so that she could put Daisy on the memorial page on their website. Literally as Daisy passed a young black Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross had been surrendered to a London council pound and was in desperate need of a foster home, currently dog charities in UK are full to capacity with unwanted dogs. We looked at the dogs needing homes page on the All Dogs Matter website and there he was, Duke.

We had already decided to shut up our Sicilian house early and now Daisy had given us the perfect reason to do so and go back to London and rescue this little boy.

Back to UK ...

We was dreading closing up our house, it is bad enough in normal circumstances leaving Sicily but to be leaving without Daisy was indescribable. We decided that we would depart earlier than usual to arrive earlier in Palermo and have a wander around the beautiful city and have dinner before boarding our ferry back to Genova. 

We needed petrol and so we went to a petrol station in Calatabiano and from here there is a different exit onto the motorway than from in Giardini Naxos. With Daisy placed on our back seat of our car we headed for the motorway but for some reason Mr K accidently took the wrong turning and we ended up taking the Messina exit instead of the Catania exit. There was no option but to carry on and come off at the next available exit which, yes you guessed it, was Giardini Naxos. As we came off I said to Mr K "I think Daisy did this because she wanted one more final drive around the port and seafront” and so we headed that way and Daisy got to have one final drive around her Sicilian town.

Along the way to Palermo we stopped off at the Sicilia Outlet Village near Enna, known as the navel of Sicily. We ended up arriving early evening in Palermo and decided just to head out for dinner. As we walked along, with Daisy in my bag as I did not want to leave her casket in the car, we saw a little staffie wandering along on his own, this street dog looked like he knew where he was going and he was heading to La Vuccaria, one of Palermo's most beloved street food markets. We followed him and he stopped and sat outside a trattoria there and we saw that as a sign and decided to eat there.

Our twenty hour ferry crossing was just awful without our furbaby especially as we were in a pet friendly cabin surrounded by other passengers with their dogs. As the ferry arrived in the port of Genova a sweet little dog came over and sat with us for the last hour, he must have felt our sadness. That evening we ate in the same pizzeria we always did opposite our hotel and as we walked in the owner Gigi burst into tears seeing us without Daisy. 

The next day we started our drive back to Dijon in France but the Mont Blanc tunnel was shut for maintenance and we was diverted high up into the Alps driving through ski resorts and a winter wonderland scene through Switzerland which was ironic because as I mentioned earlier in some regions Staffordshire Bull Terriers are banned.

The day after we drove through northern France and the Eurotunnel back to London.

Il Duca di Naxos ...

The day after we arrived back in UK as we sat in our car outside the kennels of All Dogs Matter in Essex a bright pink oleander flower came out of nowhere and landed on our window screen.

It was a sign from Daisy ...

Duke is now in our loving hands and we have officially adopted him and I know that Daisy will be with him every step he takes. She chose a perfect companion for us who needed a new forever home full of love. Between the three of us, Duke, Mr K and me, we will work on healing each others broken hearts. 

We have decided to keep his name as Duke. Duke in Italian is "Duca" and so as Daisy was the Regina di Taormina he will be Il Duca di Naxos (the Duke of Giardini Naxos).

He has his first road trip booked for Spring and I hope that you will join him virtually as he gets ready for his first journey to his new second home in Sicily. Whilst there we will be applying for a European pet passport for him. 

I hope you have enjoyed Daisy's Sicilian Story with a laugh and most probably tears in your eyes and next time you are in Sicily and in Giardini Naxos please take time to visit Daisy's favourite beach at La Cambusa and remember the fun times she had there. Just do not try to steal her tennis ball !!!!!!!!!


R.I.P Daisy Kearney 2011-2023

Run free on the beach our little precious princess until we meet again 


Now I hope you will enjoy Daisy's photo gallery (in no particular order) as you can imagine we have hundreds of shots so I hope you like the ones I have chosen.

All Dogs Matter have many wonderful dogs looking for their forever homes just like Daisy did and now also her adopted little brother Duke. 

If you enjoyed reading this Blog post then you might enjoy these ones 
from my Blog archive about Daisy's adventures in Sicily:



All Dogs Matter www.alldogsmatter.co.uk

Eurotunnel www.eurotunnel.com

GNV Ferries www.gnv.it

Hotel Montchapet Dijon, France www.hotel-montchapet.com



Veterinarian Michael Yamas at Medivet, Mulgrave Road, Sutton, UK

Veterinarian Dr Vecchio Remi, Calatabiano, Sicily

Dottoressa Grazia Messina at L'Ultima Coccola, Giarre, Sicily 

Giovanni and Sabrina at Ristorante Spizzicanu, Giardini Naxos, Sicily

Rosario and Riccardo at Ristorante Royal, Giardini Naxos, Sicily

Antonia at Ristorante Pippo Lupo di Mare, Giardini Naxos, Sicily

Martina and her parents at Trattoria Antonio, Giardini Naxos, Sicily

Alessandro at Italianicius Lounge Bar, Giardini Naxos, Sicily

Tony at Time Out Pub, Taormina, Sicily

Isabella at Weddings in Sicily Taormina 

The Franco Family at Sicily Tours and Excursions by Franco Group 

Carmelo Priolo taxi service, Giardini Naxos 

Simona at Tripping Sicily 

Valerio at Hotel Castello San Marco, Calatabiano, Sicily

DJ Armando, Cafè Schisò, Giardini Naxos, Sicily 

Gigi at Ristorante Santa Lucia, Pegli, Genova, Liguria

Jean Marie and Pascal at Hotel Montchapet, Dijon, France 

All our Sicilian friends and neighbours

All our English friends in Giardini Naxos especially Norma, Teresa and Lizzie  

My best friend Valentina

“Uncle H” in London

The Sutton Arms Pub, High Street, Sutton, Surrey

The Fountain Inn, Cowes, Isle of Wight 

and also

to all my Blog followers for all your kind messages and ongoing support


Thank you for following me on my
Sicily Travel, Food and Lifestyle Blog
White Almond Sicily

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The Secret Sister by Jan Baynham

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Love Sarah

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