Canelo, the colour of cinnamon, was a mongrel that belonged to a man who lived on his own in the city of Cadiz. He would follow his master everywhere and the couple were well known all over that lovely city and particularly on the walk between their home and the hospital. Canelo was his very best friend. The complicity between them, people said, was evident in the way they looked at each other, even in their gestures.
The man had a kidney disease that took him for daily dialysis at the Puerta del Mar Hospital. Canelo would come along but, as animals were not allowed in the hospital, the dog would wait patiently for his master to come back out. Sometimes the treatment took a long time, but Canelo was always there. They would be seen ambling back home each day.
One day, Canelo’s friend and master became very ill during the dialysis. He died in the hospital that day.
Canelo waited and waited. And waited.
He spent days sitting there, waiting, lying down, taking a short walk, never too far from the door. People took pity on him and fed him scraps and gave him water. Still, he waited.
He would not leave. He went through cold, wet winters and blistering hot summers. And was there, day and night.
Municipal workers came to take him away but the people who knew him, wouldn’t let that happen. He was spared an untimely death thanks to a petition signed by several hundred people. Canelo was returned to his post, where he carried on waiting for his master to come back.
Canelo waited for twelve years. Yes, twelve years. He knew that his friend had gone in through those sliding doors, and he knew that one day he would see his master coming back through them.
On occasions, Canelo would wander away a short distance in search of food or water. On December 9, 2002, Canelo was run over by a car close to the hospital. He died in the street.
The story got about all over Spain and abroad, and the municipal authorities decided to dedicate a street to him, to honour his loyalty, his love and his hope. A short street right next to the hospital was named after him, and there is the plaque that explains the reason behind Calle Canelo: ‘To Canelo, who waited for his master for twelve years. The people of Cádiz honour his loyalty. May 2005.’