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