Cinque and Guardia were two special dogs that were often seen around the town of Loreto Aprutino. Sadly they are no longer with us. What follows is an edited version of two posts I wrote about them before this blog had its last major facelift.
Cinque: Citizen of Loreto
Cinque was a dog.
He wasn’t anyone’s pet or working dog.
He lived in Loreto Aprutino and was a regular sight walking along Piazza Garibaldi, Via Vittorio Veneto and Via Dei Normanni.
- Some say he could smell freshly cooked arrosticini from 5 km.
- Some say he could bark in 5 languages.
- Some say he saved 5 worn-out travellers stranded in a well-stocked bar.
The Loretese just knew him as Cinque.
As he walked along his turf his eyes were pealed, on the lookout for another victim, another mark.
The first time I met Cinque I was sitting outside Bar Centrale. He crept up silently to where I was sitting and before I knew what had happened he’d relieved me of the burden all the food on my plate.
Once I’d run out of tasty snacks he moved on and found another customer, another sucker powerless to resist his charms!
Cinque had several techniques to gain your sympathy, to ensure he got your attention and most importantly, to liberate your food:
- Looking at you with huge sad eyes
- Caressing your leg with a gentle paw
- Resting his head on your thigh
- Any combination of the above
In a moment of inspired genius I once saw him rest his head on one tourist’s lap, while gently pawing the arm of another.
He had an uncanny ability to recognise strangers, animal lovers and most importantly, potential Cinque lovers.
No matter how much he bothered us, we were all Cinque lovers.
There are other town dogs, and they have their favourite patches and plays, but none came close to Cinque’s skill at working a mark.
All these town dogs play the sad-eyed sympathy card with greater or lesser success.
But none were as successful as Cinque.
The locals loved him and were a little wary of him. They knew that if they let their guard down he’ll happily relieve them of their hard earned porchetta.
Now and then they’d shoo him away. But they knew in their hearts he’d be back.
They knew that in the long run there’d only be one winner.
The Guardian of Sant’Antonio
Guardia lived a long life and was well known around the streets of Loreto Aprutino.
In her final years she recovered from being struck by a car and later from a nasty bronchial infection. Rest and antibiotics helped her recover but finally old age caught up.
She had the perfect name.
The noun guardia translates into guard, sentry, guardian and in the case of cane da guardia it is guard dog or watch dog.
When I think of guard dogs or watch dogs I think of vicious angry dogs, chained and barking. They leave you in no doubt that their primary purpose is to put fear into your bones and ensure you keep well clear.
Guardia was not that type of guard dog. She was gentle, calm, quiet – much more of a watcher or a protector – a true guardian.
She was usually stationary, basking in the sun near the church of Sant’Antonio or curled up somewhere along Martiri Pennesi.
Although she was a street dog she was well looked after. In theory she belonged to nobody but in reality she was part of one particular family. So much so that when our neighbour walked to the market to buy her shopping Guardia followed a short distance behind. It was as if there was an invisible cord tying them both together.
An unbreakable bond.
Guardia was a gentle soul.
The only time I ever heard her bark was when she was suffering from that bronchial infection. It wasn’t really a bark, more a deep cough that she made as she tried to clear her throat.
She lumbered a bit more after she recovered from being hit by the car. Slower certainly, but in truth she was never the quickest about town. Running around with a pack or chasing cars and scooters wasn’t part of Guardia’s character.
I miss Guardia.