The Story of Fernando: The Stray Dog Immortalized by Alberto Cortez

The Story of Fernando: The Stray Dog Immortalized by Alberto Cortez

Last update: 24 July, 2018

This is the story of a little white dog, with a refined ear for music. He was adopted by an entire town. People have dedicated books, poems and statues to his memory. He was called Fernando, and is the protagonist of a legendary song by singer-songwriter Alberto Cortez.

The dog who knew how to win over an entire city

The dog appeared suddenly in a bar in Resistencia, capital of the Argentinean province of Chaco, on Christmas Eve in 1951. He was seeking refuge from a fierce storm.

He lay down at the feet of Fernando Ortiz, a bolero singer who, fate would have it, was passing through the city that would become his permanent home.
Immediately, Ortiz became Fernando’s official owner, and even gave him his name. But the dog also began to win over the locals, and made the city his home. Everyone wanted to invite him into their home, and spend time with him at the bars and restaurants he frequented.
Meet Fernando, the stray dog who knew how to make an entire city his home. He was beloved by all those who had the privilege of sharing their lives with him. His memory lives on today in poems, books, statues and songs that recall his free spirit.

Fernando, the street dog who made Resistencia his home

The dog developed a routine that usually consisted of:

  • Sleeping in the lobby of the Hotel Colón.
  • Drinking coffee with milk and croissants for breakfast in the manager’s office of Nation Bank.
  • Visiting the hairdresser next to the Japanese Bar.
  • Lunch at the restaurant El Madrileño or in the Sorocabana.
  • Taking a nap at Dr. Reggiardo’s house.
  • Chasing cats in the main square.
  • Dinner at the La Estrella Bar.

A dog with a prodigious musical ear

Beyond his sweet spirit and his ability to make Chaco’s residents fall in love with him, Fernando, the stray dog was known for his extraordinary musical ear

Elders say that Fernando never missed any activity in which there was music. He attended concerts, public and private parties, and carnivals. He always had a privileged place in these events. In addition, his opinion was by far the most valued.
Fernando used to sit next to the orchestra or the soloists and wag his tail as a sign of approval. But if someone misplayed a note or went off tune, he would start to growl, or howl. Eventually he would leave!
He even disapproved of an important Polish pianist who gave a recital to a full house in the city’s main venue. Fernando growled a few times, which led to the musician getting up from his chair at the end of the show and admitting, “He’s right. I messed up twice. “

Fernando, immortalized in a song

Unfortunately, on May 28th, 1963, something terrible happened. In front of the plaza, next to the provincial Government House, where he often chased cats, a car hit Fernando.
The entire city of Resistencia mourned him. His burial is considered the most attended funeral that was ever held in the city. Even the municipal authorities came to pay their respects, giving speeches in his honor.
Today he rests under the pathway of the museum, El Fogón de los Arrieros–an emblematic cultural center in Chaco. And he lives on in the hearts of those who had the joy of sharing a part of their lives with him.
Furthermore, he is immortalized in “Callejero” the song by Alberto Cortez that wonderfully describes beautiful, free beings that, like Fernando, walk the earth, faithful to “their hearts and their destinies”.
Main image source: Pertile (Wikipedia Commons).