Middle Grade Action and Adventure Book about Dogs and Ghosts in Tuscany! DOWNLOAD TODAY

99 cents DOWNLOAD


My new Middle Grade chapter book Ruby and the Ghost Dog is finally out and just 99 cents for two days (20 and 21 June) only. It is inspired by my rescue English Setter Gassi  (that is his picture on the cover!) and my volunteer work for two years in an Italian dog shelter (“canile“). The book features reluctant 11-year-old psychic Ruby who has moved to Tuscany, Italy with her mother. She is soon targeted by a very special dog for a rather special mission and nothing in Ruby’s life will ever be the same again.

The book has already been downloaded almost 1000 times in two days and is hovering just outside the amazon top 100 so please give it a boost and download it! Once it goes back to being a paid book and starts making money then I aim to donate 10 per cent of sales to animal rescue. I want the book to raise awareness about animal rescue in Italy, in particularly the plight of dogs stuck in kennels, often for years.

The link is to amazon in the USA, but the book can be downloaded HERE for UK, HERE for Italy, HERE for Australia and HERE for Spain. It is available worldwide on amazon if you search for it by title. Please tell your friends as it all helps spread the word.

Praise for Ruby and the Ghost Dog

‘Fiona does a wonderful job helping children cope through any loss or isolation they may experience while growing up in a sometimes challenging and ever-changing world. Ruby and the Ghost Dog takes the reader on a fascinating journey which is filled with loss but that void is replaced with immense love supplied by the natural and supernatural in both human and canine form.  This is a must read for any child who has experienced any loss and/or any child that loves dogs!’ Prince Lorenzo Borghese, President www.animalaidusa.org and Ambassador to the American Humane Association

‘An enchanting tale that will appeal to dog lovers like me everywhere.’ Kay Burley, Sky TV presenter and Setter owner. 

‘In Ruby and the Ghost Dog we are reminded of the love between species, whether they are two legged or four pawed, and the beautiful connection which continues beyond death. Acknowledging grief for animals, as well as humans, this lovely story reveals the value of inter-species friendship. This book is a heartwarming ‘tail’ for all generations.’ Pea Horsley, Animal Communicator, teacher and author of ‘Heart to Heart: Incredible and Heartwarming Stories from the Woman Who Talks With Animals’ and ‘The Animal Communicator’s Guide Through Life, Loss and Love’. www.animalthoughts.com.

‘A mesmerising story that works on many levels. Ruby and Gassi’s relationship teaches us about loss and grief but also hope and love. We learn that dogs need us and that we need them as much, if not more. Ruby and the Ghost Dog will encourage everyone to think about all the dogs out there in difficulty and to think of adopting rather than buying a new dog.’ Pen Farthing, Founder and CEO of the Nowzad charity www.nowzad.com helping improve the welfare of animals in Afghanistan. Author of ‘One Dog at a Time’, ‘No Place Like Home’ and ‘Wylie’.


Something Nasty in the Woodshed

Well I spent Sunday doing a makeover of the downstairs kitchen. Alan was away in Modena meeting up with his old Motoclub friends and so I thought I’d take the chance to move things around a bit.

In mid Changing Rooms trance, I suddenly realised I hadn’t heard our English Setter Gassie for about an hour and a half since letting him into the garden. He’s normally very vocal and comes and goes while the other two dogs sit patiently and watch his antics. This time there was a suspicious silence but when I called him he came inside wagging his tail. All was well, or so I thought.

This morning as I passed by the lean-to we have next to the garage I saw why he’d been so quiet. During one of his obsessive lizard hunts he had managed to rip apart about ten plastic bags of carefully stored woodpellets for our pellet stove as he tried to catch his prey!It was total mayhem in there.

Gassie having fun with wood pellets It took me about three hours to tape together the broken bags and to collect up the loose pellets. I Googled what to do with spoiled wood pellets as they turn into sawdust at the slightest touch of damp and weigh a ton. There was surprisingly little on the Internet apart from the fact they make great cat litter or horse bedding, but as I don’t have a horse (yet) and the amount on the ground would have kept a colony of 100 cats happy for weeks, I decided to compost them. Back and forth I went for it seemed like hours and then tried to mix it in as best I could and hope the rather surprised worms liked sawdust.

Ironic really as I was just telling Alan how well we had done to have so many bags left over from this winter.  I did reflect on the sweet irony of phrase which had captured my heart when I read the appeal for poor abandoned Gassie on the internet. It went along the lines of ‘All he wants to do is sit by the fireside and rest his head on your slippers.’  It didn’t mention there would be no fire in the fireside stove as the dog would have flung the fuel to the four winds in his mad hunt for reptiles. Oh well. I still love him to pieces despite his funny habits and you never know, pellets might make great compost.





Latest on the Long Limbed Loon

Gassie the Rescue English Setter I thought I’d update you on how our internet rescue English Setter Gaspare (Gassie) is doing as we’ve had him three months now. It’s difficult to remember life without him really.

He’s had the latest set of bloodtests and his anaemia is now cured, which is a great relief as they weren’t sure if this was something more sinister. He’s put on more weight so is now almost 25 kilos, which is a hell of a lot better than the 18 kilos he weighed when he was found. I’d like to see him even heavier though as I don’t like dogs to be too skinny, even thogh that is the trend in Italy. (I noticed recently that the feeding instructions on our imported dogfood had been altered in Italian to give the dog less than in the other languages!)

Gassie is very lively, especially in the early morning. He wakes me up by sitting on his haunches and putting both very long front paws on the bed. This wakes the other two dogs and so I have now taken to just giving in and getting up. I have been downstairs by six o’clock in the morning for the last week. I’m knackered! I like early mornings but that is a touch too early even for me.

He gambols around the garden like a demented foal chasing all manner of insects and things up trees, which can include birds and squirrels and butterflies and lizards. You can see him on  a lizard hunt in the photo. He pounces like a cat and I have never seen a dog do that!

Talking of cats, the war goes on against our little tribe of felines, although Jimmy the youngest has now started coming in at night and sleeping in the tower room, slipping out of the open bathroom window first thing. I suppose it’s a start. Gas won’t touch them when I am there, but I can’t be everywhere!

He is big buddies with my other two dogs, although ZsaZsa does get fed up with him sometimes, but it’s all good natured. He and Maia zoom around the garden chasing after balls. He can easily outrun her on his ten foot legs but he often slows down just so she can chase him properly.

This morning I sat down on the two seater sofa in the kitchen to try and read (ha!) and was followed by Zsa Zsa and Maia. That filled it up pretty much, but Gassie doesn’t like to be left out so he proceeded to climb onto my knee and curl up with his head on Maia’s back. I think you can safely say he has settled in OK and is now well and truly a (large) part of the family!

About Pets in Italy

Fiona TankardBenvenuti!  My name is Fiona Tankard , I’m a writer and I have lived in Italy, first in Umbria and now Tuscany, since 1994 with my husband and a variety of pets. Over the years we have had cats, dogs, geese, a crow, fish, two pigeons and alpacas.

I started this blog to help homeless animals in Italy and to help non Italian pet owners owners and visitors too. I know that it can sometimes be hard being an animal lover in Italy. You can be thought of as ‘un po’ eccentrica’ as my last neighbour dubbed me, and as for having animals in the house – well, say no more!

My husband Alan and I moved to Italy with our original pets, travelling in the back of our ancient Lada estate bought especially for the trip. The dogs Kelly and Emma, plus cats Harley, Widget and Birkana went in the back and we set off with trepidation on a journey that had many highs and some lows (like almost losing the cat in a mnotorway service station carpark!) We slept in two tents at Chamonix, one for Alan and the dogs and one for me and the cats.

Since we moved here we have seen many of our pets come and, sadly, go. The most recent loss was of our lovely little dog Maia, who died of canine lymphoma. Our current pet family comprises one male cat – Jimmy, three dogs – labrador ZsaZsa, Internet rescue English setter Gassie, Internet rescue dog Mana’, rescue pigeon Lulu  and five alpacas – Nicola, Emilia, Champagne , Brunello and Dolcetto.

I add to this site regularly, posting blogs, resources, appeals, links and my own articles and photos. Please feel free to comment and get in touch if you have any questions or suggestions and I’ll be happy to help if I can. I am particularly keen to hear about any charities or appeals for animals in Italy that you could send me so I can post them on the site.You can email me on fctankard@gmail.com