Maria Andreoli

A Tribute to a Pioneer

The following vignette was originally written as a tribute for publication in a German magazine.

There is a memory in my mind’s eye that is today as clear as when the event happened. When the World Dog Show was held in Milan, Italy, Maria was a gracious hostess and I, the grateful guest. I was there to see the wonderful dogs I had searched for so determinedly … the Bergamasco. As I wandered around the compound, the dogs surveyed me with interest, some with a bemused smile and others simply ignored me and went about their business.

For me, it felt a little like being on a Star Wars set. The distinctive ‘mantel’ of the mature dogs gave them a surreal and almost otherworldly appearance which I loved. Since Maria had dogs entered in the World Dog Show, I was prepared for quite a production of its own to get all the dogs and six adults into the van but watched in absolute amazement as all the animals quietly and deftly hopped into the van and settled down, a wall to wall Bergamasco rug.

The drive to Milan was pleasant as it was a lovely day in June with clear skies and sunshine. Never having been to Milan before, I gawked like the tourist I was at sights in the city pointed out to me by my hostess and other members of the caravan.

Coming up to the area where the show was being held, it was suddenly apparent that the dogs would have to be walked from a parking area. It was early morning with busy rush hour traffic. Everybody out and get the dogs sorted. The next moments were amazing…Maria took one dog with a small, almost invisible lead and asked us to walk on the traffic side and behind our little hairy convoy. Every dog quietly sorted out its position and they all followed Maria, without leads.

As I watched this, I heard no noise, no sound of traffic, transfixed at the picture made by the shepherdess and her flock as they walked silently and calmly to the entrance of the building. It is an image that I cherish to this day and that reminds me of the work achieved by this pioneer.

The Bergamasco are here as a result of the dedication of people like Maria. It is a privilege to have known her. Thank you Pupa.

November 2005

Please visit: Una Vita per i Bergamaschi – A Life for the Bergamascos.