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Guid'Antonio & His Beloved Pups

As seen on the cover of The Sign of the Weeping Virgin, one of the furry stars of the story is the cane corso Italiano (or mastiff) who in the opening pages adopts Guid'Antonio. At first, Guid'Antonio rejects this huge, fleabitten canine, but then . . .


Guid'Antonio glanced at the sun. "Andiamo, Amerigo. We're late."
"Jesu! I've never seen such ribs sticking out of a dog! I'd try to get the rope off his neck, but he'd have my hand for something sweet. No fine leather collar for him, now or any other time," Amerigo said.
"He's fought bears, then been left to rot."
"For all that, he's managed to survive. And escape."
"He's a Florentine." Along with the sound of his nephew's voice, Guid'Antonio heard the dog's labored breathing and caught the smell of cat urine and moldy bread intermingled as they entered a side street.
"You do know he's following us," Amerigo said. "What manner of cur is that?"
Guid'Antonio glanced back. The dog was huge. Black mask across the muzzle, floppy ears, a short, matted dense coat, and curled-down toenails. "A mastiff, a cane corso Italiano in a better life."
"Even sadder. An ill fate for a magnificent dog."
"Go on!" Guid'Antonio shooed the animal away. "Give him one bite and we'll have him forever."
"He's already had one bite. The filth posing as a pie, remember? Speaking of filth, I managed a quick bath this morning, given this meeting with the Lord Priors. Still, my body feels as whipped as that dog, who's still following us at a safe distance, by the way." Amerigo gave Guid'Antonio a quiet glance. "We haven't seen the last of him."
"Au contraire," Guid'Antonio said.

The Hearts of All on Fire with the Lagotto Romagnolo, Orsetto, Guid'Antonio's Little Bear

Orsetto, Little Bear

Sensing Guid'Antonio's disquiet, Orsetto licked Guid'Antonio's bare toes, quivering and sighing before settling back down. My good boy, thought Guid'Antonio, bending to pat the puppy on the head. Sleep and dream of chasing rabbits in sunny, far off fields, so long as when you're awake, you remain with me.
When had he fallen in love with this little comet of crimped, reddish-brown fur whose birthplace was northeast Italy? Guid'Antonio relinquished a smile. The answer was easy: from the moment the puppy had arrived in a crate from Imola, a gift from the mayor there.