Stylist and designer Francesca and little Pino are not like any other master and his dog. A volunteer worker had found the poor deaf and blind mixed breed on the streets. And Francesca, with more than 20 years of experience with dogs, promised to look after him, “to make his last few months on earth less miserable”, she was telling herself. Little did she know of how strong a dog can be when he gets to experience love and affection for the first time in his life. He is fast asleep when I go visit the two of them in their Salento home
Pino didn’t wake up when we came in?
Don’t worry, he can’t hear anything, and he cannot see too well either. He’ll wake up eventually and I’ll give him a bite to eat. He’s way over 13 years old, moves very little because of his injuries and arthritis, so basicallly that’s what he does: sleep and eat. Yet, he’s been with me for almost three years now. Keeping me company when I wake up early, have my first cup of coffee and start knitting or working on my unique pieces made out of fabric and all sort of materials. Or when I watch television after a long day: He’ll stretch out right next to me, enjoying nothing but the smell of me being there for him.
How did you find out about Pino?
A volunteer had found him, run over on one of the main streets leading out of my town. Can’t you take care of him, she was asking. You could tell he was suffering, so I said, let’s take him to the vet and see what he says.
He seems to be doing just fine now.
Yes, but it took a while! At first he wouldn’t even let me pet him, poor thing. He just didn’t know what it was like to be loved by someone. But he got very attached to me. So now whenever I have to leave him with someone for a couple of days because I need to travel, he suffers loneliness, wouldn’t touch any food and can’t wait for me to be back. I’m his person, he knows nothing but the smell of me.
You used to have a handful of dogs, you said…
Yes, that was when I lived in the countryside, on a large estate where we went for long walks without ever leaving the property. They were all street dogs and I loved every single one of them! Athos, Yaris, Aygo, Leon and Toy. When I came home from work they used to party all around me! At night we would walk around the house, looking at the stars while I told them about my day. Different times, different measures… I promised myself I would never leave them, whatever happens. Within 2 or 3 years they died one after the other. I buried them around the big olive tree in the garden. This way they could go to sleep together as they used to and be together forever in their happy place. When the last of them had died, I was ready to move forward. I took a picture to always remember everything – and found myself an apartment in town.
I guess Pino made the transition easier for you.
Not that there was no other dog in the meantime! Did I tell you about Ciccia? The dog that came into my shop one day and decided to never leave again? She came every single day for about ten years! And she was extremely smart, knew exactly when she would find me etc. She usually arrived by 4.30 pm,
a couple of minutes before me. I opened the door and she would follow me behind the cash desk, where she remained all afternoon, listening and watching. During pandemic I took her home with me, my dogs had gone and she kept me company for a year.
Now it’s Pino who’s taking care of you…
Yes, we do enjoy each others company. I’ve got a lot of friends, a busy lifestyle etc. But there’s nothing like coming back home and having someone waiting for you. Yet, I promised myself that after Pino I wouldn’t take any more dogs. A least for a little while. But then again, don’t they say life happens while you make other plans?
PS: Wanna check out some of Francesca’s unique and 100 percent handmade pieces? Here’s her Instagram account: @viv’arte_