Em and I arrived at Vittorino's small holding last Saturday morning for what we understood was going to be a day of watching him show his Pastore Apuano dogs rounding up the sheep.
In fact it was far more than that, Zeus, Em's lovely boy, now around 5 months old, whom she got from Vittorino, was about to be put through tests and introduced to sheep along with a few others!
Being a youngster, Zeus had a blood test taken to check for certain that in fact he was one of this ancient breed.
The blood would be sent to the University to check the DNA.
Vittorino is obviously a man passionate about animals, reflected in the fabulous area he has created for ducks, geese, donkeys, sheep, goats and dogs.
The dogs are Pastore Apuano from this area of northern Tuscany known as Lunigiana.....an ancient breed going back to Roman times.
The vet had a little trouble taking blood from Zeus, so Vittorino stepped in to steady our feller!
Vittorino is a lovely gentle man whom we greatly respect.
We have been stopping by for a year or more, watching the place take shape.
I have wanted to build animal enclosures for our piece of land from natural available materials for some time......I am inspired by this enclosure!
The animals are all well kept and cared for......wonderful to see!
Interesting to meet people from far and wide, Milan and Parma and see how different the dogs of this breed look!
Carolina, to the right of her Dad, came along to support him and with her great English, explain anything not understood by me!
Vittorino announced the day....... initially the dogs would be introduced to the sheep to see their reaction.
The sheep and goats were taken up to the enclosure......
Whilst everyone was asked to wait with their dogs on the other side of the fence.
Zeus was wondering what was coming next.......lovely boy!
Vittorino's wife Rita also assisted with the day....what a lovely lady.
Some had more to say than others!
First to be introduced, Zeus was walked around the perimeter of the enclosure........
Time to step inside!
"Let me out of here"!!!
Zeus being introduced to a lamb....
And then it was somebody else's turn.....
Morning light and the atmosphere were beautiful........
All fascinating to watch.........
The sun shone all morning bringing out a few locals....
The next test was to see how the dogs reacted to noise......... a gun was fired and a chain saw started up......
We chatted to this couple, expecting their first babe in May.........
Their dog, is a Lagotto, bred primarily as a truffle-searching dog!
Interesting, we hadn't seen one before.
A barrel was rolled down the bank to see if the dogs were jumpy or scared....
More gesticulating.......love it!
Typically here in Italy....we all stopped for lunch!
However, in order to get to the Azienda Agrituristica, Il Picchio Verde, we had to hope the road was now open.
Following all the rain, there had been a land slide, huge great boulders had tumbled down into the road!
Em and I had to take the long way round when we drove to Corvarola first thing.
It was Vittorino's birthday!
Following a delicious lunch he kindly treated us all to a glass of Prosecco!
Back we drove for the afternoon session....goodness knows how they are going to shift these enormous rocks!!!
And back the dogs went into the arena with the sheep to test their reactions further....
Unfortunately the heavens opened and it poured with rain, but we managed to see how one of Vittorino's experienced dogs rallied!
Eventually we were rained off.
Here is Em saying "goodbye" to lovely Carolina.
Whilst waiting for the paperwork and to hear how Zeus fared, Em was shown the skull of a wolf a ranger friend of Vittorino's had found up in the mountains!
Having a terrific fascination for skulls, Em was in her element!!!
She has found a few herself whilst out walking the dogs!
Here you can see the difference between a dog on the left and the wolf!
Apparently Vittorino keeps the skulls of all his dogs!
Here he is showing us a sheath he made himself for arrows.
A fascinating gentle man who trained dogs professionally including police dogs, as a living before his retirement.
He now divides his time between his family in Milan and here with his other passion....his dogs and other animals.
He has created a wonderful haven and we are delighted to have met him and his family and be fortunate to have the privilege to learn from his experience.
Emily is delighted to have the chance to give Zeus this opportunity, to carry out work with sheep as his ancestors before him.
A wonderful day!
Oh, nearly forgot to mention Zeus was uninterested in the sheep....
but his reaction to the loud noise tests were excellent....
Vittorino added that he had great potential and needed another ten lessons or so, he is still just a pup after all!..................