As usual before 8 am I walked Cayden. At the top of the entrance to our part of the village there was the cat that Cayden dislikes, because it’s the arch enemy of Gatsby, our cat. So Cayden sent it straight up a tree like an arrow. This amused me as well as two other people. A mother and her daughter. The daughter is inflicted with a form of Down syndrome. They are two of our neighbours in this tiny Italian village.

The mother, already of a certain age, looks after her daughter in an exemplary way. While the daughter still manages to walk, her mother insists that she does so, although it’s very slow and difficult. When we meet up I always ask them how they are, now in Italian although I know the mother speaks good French. And she also answers in the same way, she looks at me and vaguely shakes her head, and then brightly says, ‘we’re fine’.

When Cayden and I returned from our little walk, they were still slowly making their way down the little entrance road. The daughter was clutching the wire fencing on the side of the path for extra support. I offered them two plums of those I’d gathered from trees growing wild on the rocky banks of the wider descending road, then I noticed that Cayden seemed particularly attentive. He gently approached the daughter and gave her a little lick on the leg.

Usually I insist that Cayden return home with me, but at the bottom of the narrow road he stood still, apparently determined to wait for them.
Perhaps it’s also the Border Collie part of him, but there was obviously something else. He cared. So I told him he can stay there, knowing he would come back when he was ready.

After a while I thought I had better go and get him, and found him lying down at the bottom of our lane near the lavaggio (wash house). He was gazing across towards the mother and her daughter on the other side of the small car park opposite the lavaggio. There was another lady talking to them. The mother was talking on a mobile phone, and the daughter was holding a handkerchief and seemed to be a little upset. I waved to them, and told Cayden to get up and come with me, which he did.

I know that Cayden is a caring dog with a big heart. He shows it with Gatsby, when the cat feels insecure or hurt. He showed it with Max when his old friend knew that it was time to say goodbye. But his care and attention in this particular case really touched me, enough for me write these few words.

Text and images © Mirino, (Cayden as he is now, and as a puppy five years ago) August, 2019

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