The Best Dog I Never Owned

Guido and I in the ApenninesDo you have any dog stories? Leave them in the comments.

I’m not a dog person. Sure, we had a black lab–named Isis after a Saturday morning television show for kids–from the time I was six until I was seventeen. What a life that dog did lead. She would hunt and fish with us, chase after all manner of ducks and birds. She never harmed another dog, but she never lost a fight either. She’d immediately roll them on their back and that was it. She was a bad-ass. But she was my father’s dog, never mine.

I’ve moved around too much to own a dog. One can leave cats alone for a week or two to their own devices only to be fed by friends once a day and have their litter cleaned once a week. They are much easier than dogs. We have two currently: Kedi–which means cat in Turkish–so named as we got him shortly after we returned from Istanbul in 2010. And Stella, whom we rescued after we returned from Costa Rica in 2011. (We’ll not be getting a cat when we return from China this year, however.)

But I do like dogs and was reminded of the best dog I never owned when my father texted me the above photo the other day.

Dad and I were high in the Apennines, just above an Italian village called Pescasseroli. It was August of 1998. The dog, whom we named Guido, had attached himself to us the first morning we arrived. We were heading out of town and up the mountains. He followed us all day, ate our scraps and showed us the best trails in the mountains. He was a cheap guide. He wasn’t pushy. He was sweet and didn’t slobber or smell. The kind of dog I like.

The next morning and the next morning and the next he was outside our hotel, waiting. It was uncanny. We grew fond of him. How could we not?

What’s even more uncanny is that the morning we were leaving Dad and I both expected him to meet us at our hotel as he had for the prior three days. But he wasn’t there, as if he knew.

I often wonder what became of Guido. I hope, where ever he is, he’s getting good salami scraps from tourists on the side of some mountain, on earth or in heaven.

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