By Marianne Schwab | Best Travel Deals Tips Blog

Pompeii, Italy

Dogs that Live Among the Ruins

In the shadow of Mount Vesuvius you'll find the ancient ruins of Pompeii, Italy, forever preserved in time since the volcanic mountain erupted in 79 A.D. and buried the city in almost twenty feet of ash and pumice.

I have been fascinated with Pompeii, Italy, since we first studied it in high school history class so when I had an opportunity to visit the city, I was captivated by its current residents. That's right -- the current residents of Pompeii -- a community of dogs that live in the ruins of this ancient city.

Pompeii was lost for over 1700 years until it was rediscovered in 1749. Following years of excavations, the site has provided the world with a detailed depiction of city life prior to the days that Mount Vesuvius buried the once thriving city for centuries.

One of the most fascinating discoveries in Pompeii was the large number of holes found in the volcanic deposits that represented corpses of people that were buried by the hot ash. Before the corpses decayed, the ash lithified so that a mold of the deceased remained and when they were filled with plaster, they produced remarkable casts of the victims of Mount Vesuvius.

Something you may not know is that in addition to the people's bodies that were discovered, there were also many discoveries of the bodies of man's best friend -- the pet dogs of the first century citizens of Pompeii. One of those dogs that lived in the city in 79 A.D. was preserved in the cast you see in the photo below.

Roaming the excavated streets of the ancient city, and not far from where casts of the first century citizens and their pets are displayed, reside the only inhabitants of modern day Pompeii, Italy -- dogs that live among the ruins.

Now, I love dogs and I was fascinated by seeing them in Pompeii, Italy, not only because it was surprising to see dogs living among the ruins but there appeared to be a small community of them basking in the sunshine of the ancient stone streets as if they owned the town.

The few photos I'm sharing here represent only a small number of about 50 canines that roamed the ruins at the time of my visit in 2009 and I was able to capture some of these cute pups in photos as they almost seemed to pose for my camera.

According to a story in Discovery News that I read just a few weeks after my visit, a program was put into place to give the stray dogs of Pompeii a new leash on life by working to find local residents to adopt them.

Since the city of Pompeii, Italy, is in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, I thought it was fitting to capture my shadow - my only portrait with one of the dogs that live there. So if you visit Pompeii, Italy, I don't know if you'll still be able to see the dogs living among the ruins, but they made a memorable impression on me.

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