Italian Version

In the photo we see the regal "Tratturo" as it was at the beginning of the century. The "Tratturo" was used by the shepherds for traveling and the passage of flocks, and along its route, were numerous farms where the shepherds lodged with their flocks and with their keepers.
The photo shows the "tratturo" between Pratola and Raiano where there were found and there are still found, near the Petrella farm, "the great white dogs."

Those who believe that these dogs have a 'standard' for all are wrong; in fact, every shepherd had his own 'type' of dog, selected for the individual characteristics and needs of the location.
You can, in fact, often see dogs that are not of great size and others of immense size, or dogs with the enormous head (molossoide) and others with the long face.
In Pratola and on the Morrone mountain the present stock contains some dogs that are larger, both in height and weight, than the actual standards dictate. These dogs are defined by the characteristics of location and the tastes of the shepherds.
The scarce water resources and the excessive concentration of flocks present on the Morrone Mountain were the cause of violent quarrels among the shepherds, who were often forced to have nighttime raids in the bordering communes to recover a quantity of water necessary for the maintenance of the flock.
This characteristic of the Morrone made it necessary to have some dogs that, besides defending the flock from its number one enemy, the wolf, also defended the pasture from sheep of other zones.
This characteristic was not present in dogs of other zones of Abruzzo, where the abundance of pastures and sources allowed for a more peaceful cohabitation.
I still remember that even when we had plenty for the sheep, and despite the fact that the dogs didn't live on the mountains anymore, to be able to add some new heads to the flock required a period of adaptation and acceptance by the dogs.

The Petrella Farm

The Kennel of Marco Petrella is found along the "Regio Tratturo". (in the photo we see a very old photo of the tratturo and the farm).
The grounds on which the kennel rises are exactly set at the edge of three communes: Raiano, Pratola and Prezza.
In general the area also has in its vicinity other farms of notable historical value, which were well known by travelers who traversed this important path: a path in use since the Roman era.
The farm used as an animal refuge was a point of reference on that path for the numerous shepherds who carried out the transumanza.
This stopping point, beyond allowing the family to have unlimited exemplary choices, has accorded that these particular dogs were well known by the numerous shepherds who transited here.
The Petrella family have always been Abruzzesi shepherds and historical research has shown the presence of these dogs already in the 1700’s when an English traveler wrote an ample and detailed description of the dogs and the area: "..... After Raiano, at the end of a long descent, I found myself before some big white dogs that resembled in shape the big Newfoundlands. These wore some types of iron collars used for protecting them from wolf attacks.... "
Crossing the Regio Tratturo the farm is found right at the end of a long descent.
And therefore unquestionably this is the farm of which he speaks.
The dogs of the "amichill" (ancient nickname used for identifying the members of the family) were famous for their size and their indisputable gifts as keepers of the flock.
The historical research carried out by Marco Petrella and the numerous articles and nature documentaries which have sprouted from same, has increased the popularity of this breed all over the world.
Today there are numerous breeders throughout the world that exclusively use Petrella family dogs to protect their livestock.
They can enjoy a mark of sure genuineness and have been able to resolve the numerous problems they have had with the large predators that in the past gripped their operations.
The efforts are now turned to researching new examples, to be in a position to always guarantee the necessary return of breed genetics, and to maintain the ancient methods of breeding used by the shepherds who have consented to always breed dogs of strength and resistance and of a balanced temperament.
But the dream that remains in Marco Petrella’s heart is to realize at the farm a place of meeting and learning for the numerous experts who come annually to better study the breed and at the same time to make the most of the tourism of our region.