Free Press Journal

Sunday special arrival for Italian marine at Fiumicino international airport



New Delhi: Italian marine, Sergeant Salvatore Girone who flew to his home country on May 28  after getting relief by India’s apex court, is delighted to be reunited with his dog, Argo.

The dog’s voyage took him on two flights (Delhi-Munich and Munich-Rome) of over ten hours before he landed at the Fiumicino international airport in Rome on Sunday morning. The Sergeant promptly reported to Argo’s caregivers in Delhi that both he and Argo were very happy and excited to see each other.

Sergeant Girone, one of the two Italian marines, who faced a trial in India for the killing of two Indian fishermen, was allowed to go home by India’s apex court till an International Arbitral Tribunal decides the jurisdiction issue between India and Italy. Sources privy to the matter said that as per the orginal plan, Girone was to fly back home in a plane organised by the Italian government and Argo was to join him. But, the plan changed and Sergeant Girone was instead put on a Dubai bound Etihad flight.

Argo, a young blonde golden retriever, who had to wait in New Delhi for almost nine days, was put on a Lufthansa flight on Saturday midnight. His caregiver, Benedetta  Biondi, wife of  Roberto Tomsi, Defence Attache in the Italian embassy in New Delhi, left no stone unturned to ensure the speedy reunion of Argo with the Italian marine. Luckily, Argo could be sent with an Italian embassy staffer who was scheduled to travel on Saturday.

Ms Biondi said that they had good experience with Lufthansa while taking their Indian dog Maxi last year to Italy and it was hassle free. “ So, we chose Lufthansa. We are relieved that Argo is finally with his master but we are missing him in our home.”

It took them a while to zero down on a reliable airline that has good experience of handling pets and safe pet landing records .  With assistance from a Delhi based company that relocates pets worldwide, Benedetta and Roberto were able to complete all travel related formalities to put Argo on the flight.

 Much to Benedetta’s relief, Argo was calm inside his cage and the couple waited till half past eleven in the night at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport to complete travel  formalities  with veterinary assistance and see the beautiful Golden Retriever go past security . After all, Argo had to face a ten hour journey from Delhi to Munich with a one hour halt at the airport before getting on another 90 minutes flight to Rome.

Argo holds a passport as per the Italian law.  The passport which is bigger than the passport for human beings, lists the dog’s name, that of his owner and the microchip number. As per the Italian law, a microchip with this number is inserted under a dog’s skin.

Biondi who has four dogs back home in Italy, said, “ I am nervous about Argo’s long journey”.

When I visited them on Saturday evening at their residence in in south Delhi,  I could sense her pain and anxiety over the parting with the dog she had looked after. But, Argo seemed calm as he seemed to enjoy watching a tennis match with Mr Tomsi.

Biondi showed me Argo’s cage and said that they were training him to get him used to the idea of being confined to the cage on two flights. She explained, “

The dog is not fed anything during the journey. “

Pointing to a bottle, she said, “Only a bottle with ice cubes is placed outside the cage. This is a smart thing as the bottle has a little opening connected to a bowl which is placed inside the cage. This ensures that the dog gets clean chilled water during the journey.”

Argo’s flight to Rome cost Rs 30,000 and the company that prepares all the paperwork for dogs, took another Rs 20,000. But, then the reunion of a dog with his master is priceless