Our dogs are rather different from most dogs in this rural area of Italy. To start with they understand English commands, not Italian ones. Then they sleep indoors, not in a kennel, or a huddle at the gate.
Their value is as pets, companions – not guard dogs, herding dogs, hunting dogs or truffle dogs.
The nearby shepherd guards (as opposed to herds) his sheep and goats using ‘Maremmani’ – big, attractive but potentially ferocious dogs with fluffy white fur. There’s often one chained to a trough under the persimmon tree by the road bridge at the foot of the shepherd’s field.
The two hunting dogs in the photo certainly seem well trained and in tune with their handler’s wishes as he ploughs up our field in the course of a boar hunt today.
Several hours later, when I’m guessing the hunt was long over, there was the music of a hunting dog’s bell somewhere the far side of the orchard. The chime was hesitant, as though the dog were wandering unsure what to do, lost in the falling dusk.