September of 2011, after having lived together in the US since 2006, my wife Yasuko and I moved back to Italy. Few weeks after arriving, while we were still settling down, we decided to get a dog and, after some research on the different breeds, we both settled on getting an English cocker spaniel.

Inspired by a friend who had a sweet black cocker, we were also looking to get one of the same color, but we couldn't find any kennel that had a black litter available at that time of the year. Eventually, after some more research, we found a small kennel not too far from Turin that still had a couple of puppies available from a litter of black and white cocker spaniels.

We drove over there an a cold Saturday afternoon to meet the breeders and to see their puppies. While driving to their place, we were thinking of possible names. "Bamboo" in Japanese means long and healthy life because bamboo plants are strong and flexible. As soon as we arrived at their house, they let us in and, right there, next to the kitchen, there was a large vase filled with bamboo sticks. We took that as a sign and a couple of hours later we were driving home with our little Bamboo in my wife's lap.

We never had a dog before, so the first year with Bamboo was full of excitement!

Every weekend we would try to find a nice place to go and spend the afternoon with him so that he could have some fun. We brought him to run on the beach, to walk up the mountains, to swim in various lakes and rivers. Every free moment we had we spent with him. We had so much to learn and got to meet a lot of interesting people thanks to our desire to learn more about dogs, and in particular about cocker spaniels.

A year later, following the recommendation of Bamboo's trainer, we started looking for a female cocker spaniel. We had no intentions of breeding them, we were just trying to help Bamboo becoming more independent. Some friend recommended a breeder located very far from us, near Trieste. After a phone call to get an appointment with her, we drove all the way to her place. It was just a couple of days before the end of 2012.

As usual, on our way there we were thinking of names. We were looking for another name whose meaning was "long and healthy life" and we came up with "Menta", the Italian word for "mint", a very strong plant, just like bamboo. After meeting with the breeder she showed us the litter. Bamboo immediately seemed to like the smallest one of them, a cute little blue roan puppy. We asked the breeder what was her pedigree name, and she said that the entire litter was named after different herbs and spices. Her name was... Menta! It was destiny, for sure, and the beginning of a long lasting friendship with Liana, the breeder. We kept in touch with her, via Facebook and phone calls, and she has been a great help since then.

If having one dog is fun, having two dogs is ten times more fun!

For a while we continued to bring both Menta and Bamboo at the training school. When that was not possible anymore we tried to bring them to a training field for hunting dogs so that they could run at least once or twice a week. We also had the opportunity to take a wonderful holiday in the mountains of Trentino with some of our friends and their cocker spaniels, and that was a ton of fun!

A year later, Liana posted on Facebook some pictures of a new litter with a couple of orange roan females: even though we were not thinking of getting a third dog at that time, it was love at first sight! Since the puppies were already teething, Liana preferred to keep them under her own supervision until they were ready. It was a long wait, but, eventually, in March 2014, we went to pick her up. We named her "Camomilla", the Italian word for "chamomile", another plant that is very strong.

She is the sweetest cocker ever, very attached to us, and to Bamboo and Menta as well. Traveling with three dogs became more of a chore, and while living in an apartment with one or two dogs is feasible, we soon realized that it was becoming difficult to manage them. That's how we started looking for a new home, with a fenced garden, so that the dogs would be able to be more independent. It took us a few months but, eventually, thanks to a friend of mine, we found a small house few miles away from town, with a nice fenced garden. Needless to say, the dogs loved it, and our life has changed since then!

This, in brief, is the story of how we ended up living in the country with our three lovely English cocker spaniels. If you are interested, below you can find a ton of pictures of our life with Bamboo, Menta and Camomilla.