Smitten by a Girl named Tiramisu

This is a re-post of a story I wrote late last summer. I dusted it off a bit and added a short music-video at the end to enter it all in the My Pet Rocks giveaway and to share it with other pet lovers showcasing their favorite “paws” with Atieno of District Home Buzz back in Washington, D.C.

If you agree that this is a heart-warming story, then just hit the LIKE button at the bottom or go to the DC Home Buzz Facebook page and do the same.  While I’m at it, why don’t you go ahead and enter a mugshot of your favorite, four-legged friend, too. Grazie mille!


I know this starts out on a sad note, but trust me, I have to go there first to get you to the very, very happy ending.

Tiramisu at home with StephWhen Maria-Maddalena, the love of my life for almost 39 years and the mother of my two daughters, passed away just about two years ago this February here in Italy, I was, to put it mildly, devastated. My youngest, Stephanie, like her big sis, Allison, was just as down, if not more so. Collectively, we were awash in grief and sadness, and immediately felt the immeasurable void that Maria’s departure had left behind. What we all really needed was a magical pick-me-up.

After the funeral and a short stay, Stephanie returned home, broken hearted and spent, to an empty apartment in Washington, D.C., but she knew exactly what she had to do if she was going to weather the storm that always follows when a loved one passes. More so when that loved one is your mother.

Misu & Stephanie in Asolo, Italy | ©Tom Palladio ImagesShe immediately went to the local Humane Society, looked around at all those ready for adoption and spotted the cutest, but frightened little female dog you’ve ever seen, cowering at the far corner of her cage. In that moment, that defining moment, Stephanie knew she was taking her home.

My daughter understood straight away that she needed someone, someone loyal by her side 24/7 to lift her spirits. As miracles sometime do happen, Stephanie found that someone at the pound in little Tiramisu (Misu, for short). Yes, it’s the name of the popular and delicious Italian dessert tiramisu, which means “pick me up,” but it’s also the name of the sweetest, tail-wagging, fun-loving Maltese-Shih Tzu hybrid mix (Mal-Shi).

On the rocks - San Felice Circeo (LZ), Italy | ©Maurizio RicciAfter waiting a week while the Humane Society prepped Tiramisu – spayed and GPS chip insertion – Stephanie paid the fees and brought her home. They’ve been inseparable ever since. Well, almost.

Stephanie, along with Tiramisu, was back home here in Italy for most of last summer, splitting her time between me up in Vicenza and big sis down in Rome. And, when Stephanie was southward bound guess who got to dog sit? Yep, you guessed it. Me. Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, I’m not, but I managed to keep Tiramisu fed, brushed, exercised and, from the looks of her tail waggling, pretty happy, too.

Couch potato | ©Tom Palladio ImagesIt took a while for Tiramisu to get used to the “stranger” tasked with occupying her day; but, as time passed, she and I — with apologies to Stephanie — became BFFs, too. With few exceptions, wherever I went, she tagged along — just like my shadow, only more expressive.

She loved to play ball, go on daily walks around the city and through all the parks, sit within staring distance of the dinner table pleading with her Ewok-like eyes for a handout, and kept me company lying under the chair while I wordsmithed a blog idea on the keyboard above. And, when it was bedtime, she scampered upstairs ahead of me, found her spot at the foot of the bed and fell fast asleep.

Misu awaits a "hand out" | ©Tom Palladio ImagesUnfortunately, time doesn’t stand still like in the movies, it continues to march forward unimpeded and waits for no one. I know this to be certain as my time spent with Tiramisu was short-lived.

Stephanie returned to the District late last August, and with her went my summer “roomie.” It was a sad day, indeed, when we put our hands/paws in the air at the Venice Airport and waved our final Arrivederci! to each other. I just hope that every once in a while, while she’s chasing after her beloved tennis ball up and down the staircase back in the District, she pauses for a moment, looks around and fondly recalls our doing the same together out on my terrace in Vicenza.

Misu with her beloved tennis ball | ©Tom Palladio Images

I still meander along the cobblestone to somewhere with my camera and notepad for stories, but it’s just not the same like last summer. Then, I had sweet little Tiramisu as my inspiration, down near my footsteps.

If you happened to have come across us, she was the one sniffing and I was the one smitten.

©The Palladian Traveler

 ©Tom Palladio Images

TPT Borsalino on Venetian | ©Tom Palladio Images



  1. Wow! You had me smiling and crying at the same time. Misu is so cute, and dogs more than any other animal fill your life with love and happiness. Maybe you should get a Tiramisu for yourself and then I’ll dog sit for you. Jack likes having new friends over.

    1. Lucia,

      Thanks for the nice review. Sorry to open up your tear ducts. Even sorrier that I cannot have a Tiramisu of my own — my apartment complex doesn’t allow it. I know, I can always move. See you on a dog walk soon.


  2. Yup, you are smitten. I can tell by how well you captured her in images. I would guess that Stephanie and Misu found each other because each had something to give the other to help with the healing process. When we are hurting, and if we are open, there are may surprises that touch our hearts and heal. And here’s to continued healing for your family. Wonderful story – you write very well.

  3. This spoke volumes to me! Aunt June in Los Angeles is available to dogsit anytime!!

    1. Hey June – Tiramisu is now closer to you than she was, back in DC with Steph, so your dogsit offer is probably manageable. Glad you liked the article. I hope you’ll stay tuned for future posts from The Palladian Traveler. Ciao for now. Tom

  4. Dear Tom: This is my favorite blog of your to date! Loved the words and special pictures. Doesn’t seem believable that so much time as passed as Maria (and my mom) have been gone two years.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your happy blogs—keep it up. Your old buddy, Janice

    1. Janice – The Tiramisu piece was really written from the heart. I’ll read it again on February 4th as a reminder of all the good things Maria gave me, and Tiramisu to a lesser extent. Like Stephanie, that little four-legged ball of hair lifted my spirits, too. Don’t be a stranger, comment on my blogs as I’d love to get your feedback, and drop me an email to bring me up to date about a future move to the Rockies. Ciao-ciao Gammy.

  5. Ahhh…the love of a furball…so much comfort…they warm our heart. Grazie for your sweet tribute. My furry delight and part of my “editorial” team is Lulu LaMew…by my side, always supportive, asks for so little…
    Thank you for sharing, Tom. Don’t forget to “visit” sometime, we’ll share a virtual espresso!
    A presto…

  6. Have you ever thought about having a dog yourself? I know it’s a bit of a tie, but there are so many in need of a loving home and the company may be fantastic. Once you have the bond they are such loving and uplifting companions 🙂

    1. Luffy – I had a “best friend” some years back, Fletcher – a wired haired Fox Terrier. Where I now live in Italy, an apartment, I’m not permitted to have a dog. I’d love to have one, but…

  7. I was saddened by your loss but understand that you have found peace. I enjoyed this post so much – your joy of the time with your visitor comes across so well. I love the name – Tiramisu – so fitting and so unusual 🙂

    1. Martin – Tiramisu (from Italian means pick-me-up), was the right name at the right time for my daughter to name her adopted little companion. I really lucked out last summer when they both visited. Thanks for your comments. Much appreciated.

    1. Emily — Unfortunately, Misu headed back to the District with my daughter at last summer’s end. I’d love to have one like her around, but I’m not allowed to keep a pet in my apartment. Maybe it’s time to move…

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