Stories from the unpublished memoirs of Annibale Guidobono Cavalchini

I returned home from the mountains at the end of the war and began the reorganisation of the family farm business along zootechnical lines: a stud farm for horses, a modern dairy farm and a pig-farm.  At the Cavigiola, a farm in the Scrivia river valley near Tortona, they kept all sorts of animals, but especially dogs. I started going to dog shows again and in 1949 obtained official recognition by the ENCI of the affix “di Valle Scrivia”.  The Boxers lived in the front part of the garden in modern kennels, well planned to keep them warm, while the Bergamaschi lived on the other side of the courtyard in the orchard, all together with a portico for protection from the elements.

Bassorilievo autore Andrea Stefanini

Each year shepherds with large flocks of sheep from the mountains came down to the farms in the Po valley, including ours. They grazed their flocks on the still fallow land in search of grass and at night returned to the farm where they were made welcome in exchange for a little fresh ricotta-cheese or other cheeses which they specially prepared for me with whole grains of pepper. Those were unforgettable flavours of the past.  The shepherds were accompanied by their Bergamaschi dogs, which were widespread throughout the Alps.  Their ability and intelligence in driving the sheep fascinated me, as it did  many of the other farmers in the lower Po valley.  No traffic policeman could have done better.


But let me tell you about a particular episode.  I used to send the cows to graze in the woods near the river Scrivia.  One evening on my return home, I was told the one cow had gone missing.  After a long fruitless search, I thought of asking the shepherd for his help.  We took Bortolo, the oldest of his dogs and after having had him smell another cow, returned to the woods in the dark.

Half an hour had not even gone by when we heard Bortolo barking, he had found the cow, she had fallen in a hole covered by bushes.

Since then my respect for these dogs has increased and I can no longer do without their company, even after giving up farming.

My son has followed in my footsteps in this passion and I have left him this heritage.  Later we moved to Bergamo, home of the breed, where we continued breeding the Bergamasco sheepdogs.  The Dachshunds came much later, in 1986 when my daughter-in law purchased a bitch called Tenerezza della Tesorella from our friends, the Falsinas.