A Dog of Flanders.
When his mother dies in the Ardennes at the age of two, Nello is left an orphan and is taken in to live with his grandfather in a small village near Antwerp. Since they are poor and, to help alleviate the debts of his grandfather to the crooked landlord, Nello helps selling milk in the city.
One day, Nello finds a dog that is almost beaten to death and decides to take it home. The dog recovers due to the good care of the grandfather and they name it Patrache. It doesn't take long before Nello and Patrache become inseparable and the dog helps pull the milk cart into town each morning.
When Nello falls in love with Aloise, the daughter of a well-off man in the village with the name Baas Cogez, the latter rejects the romance totally.
Nello is quite talented at drawing and, in order to persuade Baas, enters a junior drawing contest in Antwerp, hoping to win the first prize which is 200 francs per year; however, the jury selects somebody else.
When a fire occurs at Baas's property, the landlord, shifting the blame of his own neglect, holds Nello responsible. Baas demands Nello to stay away from Aloise once and for all.
One day, the grandfather dies and the landlord dispels Nello and Patrache. With no money and nowhere to go, Nello wishes to visit the cathedral of Antwerp and see Rubens' paintings there. On Christmas Eve, Nello and Patrache go to Antwerp and find the church door open. The next morning, the chaplain finds the boy and the dog frozen to death in front of Rubens' triptych.
A dog of Flanders is a novel by English author Ouida (pseudonym of Maria Louise Ramé) published in 1872. The story was quite obscure in Belgium until it was picked up as a plot device in an album of the Spike and Suzy (Willy and Wanda in the US.) comic book series Het Dreigende Dinges (The Threatening Thing) in 1985. In the UK and the US, however, it enjoys a notable fame and it is extremely popular in Japan and Korea where it is a children's classic and has been adapted to film.
In 1985, Jan Corteel, an employee of the tourism office of Antwerp, suggested the village of the story to be Hoboken, a suburb of Antwerp. The claim supposedly comes from Ouida who spoke of a village with a windmill not far from a canal when she visited Antwerp. Nothing supports the assertion however, but the municipality was quick to claim the story and built a monument to commemorate it. Since then Japanese and other visitors come to Hoboken to try to get a feel of Nello and Patrache.
On December 2016, the city of Antwerp revealed a new monument in front of the cathedral made by the Belgian artist Batist Vermeulen.
Image December 2020, Pentax K-1,5 + FA 20-35