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Goodbye Balzo

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balzo young

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It is hard to imagine Casal dei Fichi without Balzo, he has been with us since the very start. An abandoned, mistreated and frightened adolescent dog, he responded well to love and affection and took to life on the building site, running out of top floor windows and trotting confidently around the scaffolding, no amount of noise or demolition seemed to bother him in the least. By the time the building work was finished it was hard to believe that this friendly sociable pet was once a cowering snarling animal who whimpered at the sight of a broom.


Balzo loved nothing better than to just be with people, the younger the company the happier he was. Opinion was divided as to whether he was a Belgian or German Shepherd, either way the Italian is a Pastorale which defined Balzo perfectly. He always wanted to take care of people, he would seek children out and make himself their protector.


His blindness was progressive, and as his eyesight failed he built the most amazing mental maps so that it was almost impossible to tell that he could not see, he could navigate perfectly and still look you endearingly in the eye with his head slightly cocked. Cruelly his hearing then gradually faded, though his incredible sense of smell meant that he always knew exactly what was going on. One of his missions was to protect people from the swimming pool, more than a few times he fell in as he thundered its length escorting the swimmers up and down.


Only last summer he would seek out groups of children in a game of hide and seek and it seems impossible to think that we will never again hear young voices calling out Balzo, Balzo.


An avid proselytiser for the canine community so many people, nervous at first, on seeing a large dog would be worn down by his gentle persistence, sitting undemandingly at their feet. Many times we have heard the sentiment “I never liked dogs, until I met Balzo.”


As he grew older it became more obvious that he had been born with a hip missing, a congenital fault in whatever breed he was but although he slowed down he never stopped, the half landing becoming his favourite spot, where he knew that every time someone passed on the stairs he would get a chin rub or an ear tickle. And apart from a small patch on his chin he never went grey or lost his handsome looks.


So , following a stroke a week ago, and despite his characteristically stubborn fight for recovery, it was with heavy hearts that we realised that he was never again going to have a life worth living and this morning asked the vet to do the kindest thing.


We have been so touched by the many messages we have received, it is moving to know that all over the world people have shed a tear for Balzo. Please keep sending us any photos that you have either post them here, on facebook, or by email.


Your messages are a wonderful support , but for a long time there will be a big Balzo shaped hole in the middle of Casal dei Fichi.


If you would like to say Goodbye to Balzo, or post a photo, just click on the title line – or here

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22 Response Comments

  • Lynne Lowery  17/08/2015 at 07:32

    Just seen this very sad news. Sitting here with tears in my eyes over my breakfast. Sleep peacefully in your bed in the sky, good boy Balzo. Lynne x

  • Ray and Ash  19/07/2015 at 19:03

    We’re sorry for your loss, we imagine it is quite difficult for you gents. Balzo really made us happy when we visited last year and lived up to all the good comments people left him on TripAdvisor.

    He was a gentle soul and will be deeply missed. We are sad that he will not be there to greet us as his guests when we visit in September.

    You have our warm wishes and hugs,

    Ray and Ash

  • Karen  14/07/2015 at 20:40

    Gone but not forgotten. We will never forget the night he sat next to our heads as we slept. Growling continuously. A wonderful dog and a role model for Jac.

  • Lynn & Mike Mainwaring  12/07/2015 at 18:23

    A beautiful dog and companion, on our first visit he never failed to welcome us back each day and sit in front of our fire at night when we were in.
    We know what it’s like to lose a dog, it’s devastating but he will always be part of your family memories, God bless Balzo x

  • Debbie  07/07/2015 at 21:00

    I can only echo the words written by so many of Balzo’s admirers, including the T-shirt mentioned by Steve. A wise and kind old soul indeed, and reflecting on his many qualities, and the many tributes, it is hard to believe that he was in fact ‘just a dog’. Bob and Ian, thank goodness you rescued him that day and gave him the chance to shine in so many ways and be loved by so many, especially you two of course. Balzo, you have taught a not particularly ‘dog’ person that there is no such thing as ‘just a dog’. We ❤️ Balzo.

  • Isabelle  07/07/2015 at 16:28

    I sm so upset because i saw Balzo loads and now he’s gone!

  • Diego  07/07/2015 at 15:13

    🙁 So hard to imagine Casal dei Fichi without him…he was a wonderful being and – somehow – the perfect, just really perfect, character for the beginning and the consolidation of your adventure. Only consolation at this stage: I am sure his charm and his example will live long in the Casale and in our hearts. Ciao Balzo 🙂

  • B & H  07/07/2015 at 11:12

    Hi Bob and Ian
    We, unashamedly, shed a tear when we learned of Balzo’s passing. It was a difficult decision for you to make but one taken out of love and kindness to him. (It is a pity that the law of the land does not give this option for humans in similar circumstances.)
    Like many of your guests, we had the pleasure of Balzo’s friendly company which added to the enjoyment of our recent stay. One of our abiding memories will be of Balzo giving the glass door several ‘Glasgow kisses’ in order to gain entry to the apartment when Hattie’s gentle tapping with her paw did not have the desired effect.
    Given his early background, Balzo was indeed a remarkable dog with a stoic character to have soldiered on as he did with all his disabilities.
    Please give Hattie a hug from both of us.
    We’re thinking of you all at this sad time.
    B & H

  • Moz and Sue  07/07/2015 at 09:43

    A lovely epitaph for a lovely dog. We are thinking of you Bob and Ian.

  • Bob Ian  07/07/2015 at 07:35

    We are so comforted by all of your messages and knowing that we have great memories to share with so many people.

    This is a week of firsts, pizza night yesterday which just wasn’t the same, we’ll get used to it, that’s the tragedy of owning pets – far outweighed by the pleasures.

    Many of our guests have shared their personal difficulties with us and we are often saddened, but always touched, when guests think of us.

    So, thank you everybody for your wonderful support, he was only a dog but hey, what a dog.

    As for his co-conspirator, Hattie does seem a bit confused, she had already taken over pool supervision, though her style is very different. Seeing as it is barbeque season Hattie is consoling herself with sausage therapy, she’s a wonderful dog too.

  • Alison and ian  06/07/2015 at 21:30

    So sorry to hear such sad news!
    An amazing lovely placid gentle giant of a dog.you gave him such a great life, so many people must have such happy memories from their holidays with balzo. Thanks for those memories

  • Tony Dansie  06/07/2015 at 20:03

    Dear Bob & Ian, very sad news, a lovely gentle old friend.
    Love from all the family, Tony and Pam

  • Lisa Kramer Taruschio  06/07/2015 at 18:24

    I am so, so sorry. But he was such a great dog, and had the heart and wits to pick the best humans to live with. Our ‘babies’ stay with us long after they are gone, and you will see him bounding around the lawns for some time yet. Abbracci to you both. (And change it’s to its in your text…I know, I’m a pain, but that’s my yob).

  • Steve, Liz, Reece, & Georgia  06/07/2015 at 16:34

    Meeting & revisiting Balzo was as much a part of the holiday as was swimming in the pool, lying in the sun and drinking a glass of wine.
    Balzo followed Reece around as if they had been lifelong friends. At the end of the day, when Reece went to bed, he would join Liz and me whilst we had a ‘couple’ of glasses of wine. He lay on the floor under the table, always with part of his body on out feet (just for company), that was until Ian or Bob came to call for him to go to bed. I would often find him in our apartment (after permission was given for him to be there from Bob), waiting for Reece & Georgia to start their next expedition, so he could escort/look after. Knowing when he could enter an apartment and when not to enter the same apartment when the guests changed was evidence enough of what a clever dog he was. Never begged for food, all he wanted was friendship.
    In his previous life, Balzo must have been a lifeguard, as he endlessly paced the side of the pool looking after the children until they returned to the sun lounges, where they all deserved a little nap in the shade. I, along with a few others am a member of the group that have the t-shirt with the words written on it “I Rescued Balzo from the Pool”, an honour to be in the club and have met Balzo.
    Ian & Bob especially, I know how much Balzo meant to you. Words do not come easy as such a time. Take solace in the fact that, although Balzo was abandoned & mistreated as a pup, his lottery came up when he found you. He lived the life only others could only dream off. For Balzo there is no more pain or suffering – Balzo can now run in the fields and snooze when he chooses.
    Big hug x

  • Devra knowles  06/07/2015 at 13:53

    Hi Bob and Ian I have just read your sad news about Balso! I am so so sorry! Having lost my dear Scottie Albert last year ! I know too well the incredible heart ache! I still intend to return to visit you one day,and am all the more saddened that Balso will not be there to greet us! He was in and out of our apartment constantly and was a wonderfull dog! Very protective over us on a day when the shepherds came to visit and knocked on the door ! He was not happy! I now have a new Scottie called George ! A nutter so different to Albert! You never stop missing your old friends however George did help to fill a little of the great void that is left! Balso will be life saving and living it up in heaven ! Take care hope to see you soon ! Best wishes devra(Fiona and Neil’s friend! ) x

  • Elise  06/07/2015 at 10:43

    Dear Balzo! What a gentle, beautiful, wise old character he was. Did he pace around the pool every morning while I swam? I know he made his quiet way into the book I was writing during my stay at CdF. Your words and memories here are very moving. I’m shedding more than one tear for him, and for you. XXX

  • Harry and Rachel  06/07/2015 at 09:11

    So sorry to hear about Balzo. What a gorgeous, warm, friendly companion to have around the place. Balzo will now be running around with Meg who we lost last year due to the same problem. Our hearts go out to you Bob and Ian. H

  • Bridget, Chris and James  06/07/2015 at 08:59

    We are so sorry to hear this news. We have fond memories of him and Hattie. Thinking of you.
    Love and best wishes to you both.

  • Lucie  06/07/2015 at 08:52

    Dear Balzo, an absolutely gorgeous dog. He made each child feel he loved them more than anything in the world, and with new children every week that was pretty impressive! Eve still talks about him and was very sad to hear the news. Lots of hugs to you both. Xx

  • John and Jane Jenkins  06/07/2015 at 08:10

    We are so sad at hearing your news about Balzo. Having pets ourselves, we can imagine how heartbroken you both must feel. We have so many fond memories of Balzo and were with you when you first attempted the googles!! He was such a gentle dog and fun to have around. He was a great part of our holiday experiences and memories at Casal. Thinking of you both and Hattie. Love John and Jane

  • Rhona and Michael  06/07/2015 at 08:09

    uch sad news about lovely, gentle Balzo. It’s been a mere few weeks since our most recent visit to CdF, during which time, one morning, he calmly ambled his way into Leopardi as we were tidying up from breakfast, and then settled in for a bit of a nap. Our hearts and thoughts are with you, Bob and Ian, as we are brought back to a similar parting from our own beloved dog. Your beautiful farmhouse may never quite be the same, but will, nevertheless, carry rich remembrances of times past.

  • Yvonne  06/07/2015 at 08:07

    Goodbye Balzo. I was always wary of dogs until I met you. We have had some lovely holidays together.


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