On May 22nd last year, 2019, a 15 year old male set out on a long road journey from Albenga, near Milan, Italy. The journey took 3 days to reach the UK. This boy had no name, and he had lived rough and homeless for most of his earlier years, sleeping wherever he could, finding shelter and scraps of food where possible, but most of the time, he was starving and frightened. No one took pity on this poor soul, he was skinny, lonely and sad. 

People came fleetingly into his life, but no one took any notice of this poor nameless boy. He was sometimes beaten until one day, staggering along a dusty path high in the Italian mountains, sad and forlorn he collapsed,and his painful weak legs buckled under him. He lay there beneath the blazing sun, parched, exhausted and forlorn, he lay on his side, too weak from lack of food and water to go any further.

A little while later a young girl came upon him. She touched his body with her foot tentatively. He opened his sad eyes and tried to lift his head but had no energy left to try and dodge another kicking. He stared up at her, exhaustion and fear in his dazed eyes.  He lay there, and closed those eyes as if he was accepting whatever cruelty was about to happen, no strength left in his ravaged sick body and it felt as if his spirit was leaving his weary soul, but the girl crouched down by him and lifted his head into her lap. She took a water bottle from her bag and tipped the liquid into his parched mouth and he managed to drink some. She called a passer-by for help, and between them they managed to carry him to her home. She fed him soft food and bathed his sore feet, and looked after him, nursing him back to health. Sadly she realised he was stone deaf, but being a student she could not afford to get him to a vet, but she cared for him during the summer vacation, though a month later she was due to return to college, and once more he was abandoned and he went back on the streets, making his way to Albenga where he was eventually taken into care, where there were other boys and girls, but all were much younger than him, and often some would disappear, but no one ever came for him. There was often talk about  being put up for adoption,but he didn’t understand or hear such reassuring words, and no one wanted an older boy who was totally deaf. 

And so he remained in care for 3 years, but then all of a sudden back in March of last year, his Carers, who had all grown to love this gentle boy who wanted nothing more than a gentle hand and kindness, which he had hardly ever experienced before, were excited and told him he was going to be adopted by an English couple. He didn’t understand but could feel their excitement, and wagged his tail. He had grown to love these kind Carers, and on May 23rd, he was put into a van with 2 others, much younger than him. The little girl was nervous but comfortable with this older boy who at long last was on his way to a new life in England.

And on Saturday May 25th last year at 9.30pm our doorbell rang and there was Paul the driver with our boy. The boy with no name. The Charity who re-homed him with us is SOFA, (Spinoni Overseas For Adoption) and is overseen by Sarah-Jane Newton, here in the UK, twinned with the kennels in Milan. Italian Spinoni dogs are simply amazing, and in Italy are used for hunting but many are abandoned by their hunters if they are gun-shy or have health problems, and SOFA‘s aim is to find safe homes for these beautiful-natured dogs.

David and I had been to Milan the previous year to see Leonardo di Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper, and subsequently, on the night we received a phone call to say we had been accepted to adopt this boy, we were watching a tv programme about Di Vinci so it seemed as if we should name our boy Leonardo, Leo for short.

Leo settled quickly, loving his new life but he had certain health problems, not least his terrible ears which were full of waxy black dirt and smelled yeasty. Once we had managed to get rid of the yeast, the long job of regular cleaning began. I had heard of Quistel, but  never had need of it with our previous Italian Spinone, Bella, and as nothing seemed to help, I turned to Quistel, ordering it from Tracey Peake. It arrived each time by return of post and after cautiously hoping, eventually I managed to get his ears much better, and clean.

He loved having them cleaned to my amazement, and would sit patiently as I wiped them out , murmuring and chatting to him despite him being totally deaf. The good side of that was that noises meant nothing to him, fireworks  didn't frighten him, loud films or voices weren’t a problem to him like most rescue dogs, until one day earlier this year he turned to look at me, and I realised he could hear me, so to our delight, our 16 year old boy now has some hearing, and has started to recognise his own name. This awesome surprise is only down to Quistel, nothing else worked! How delighted am I to have found such an amazing product.

Leo has been diagnosed with Diabetes Insipidus, a possible tumour on the pituitary gland, and is on some very expensive tablets, but he is worth it, and for however long we have him, we know he has had a happy year of living here in Gloucestershire. He knows he is much loved. And at long last he has a family of his own, this Boy Who Had No Name!

SOFA can be found at:


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