The Italian Almanac


Riding the Bus

Each day Camillo, who lives in Genoa, takes the bus to run some errands, then finds his way home again. What makes Camillo's travels unusual is the fact he's a dog.

Zoologist Luigi Boitani says that Camillo's skills , like many other dogs whose owners post YouTube videos of their clever pets, come down to good training. Camillo can take the bus around Genoa by measuring the stops the bus makes, as well as smells and sounds that help the dog remain oriented.

"For sure, the dog knows how to repeat paths that he has already done several times," said Boitani, who works at Sapienza University of Rome. That doesn't mean the dog can immediately forge new paths, but he can stick to the old ones using the tried-and-true method: "sniff and view" reference points along the bus path.

"For a dog, every stretch of road has odours that humans can not distinguish," said Boitani. "They are as important as real street signs, (and) which allow the animals to orient themselves perfectly".