"Va" (as we call him) is the embodiment of freedom. He was orphanned as a child and doesnt remember anything significant of his biological parents. He was raised by a small family in a village North of Livorno. His journey begins when he leaves his adopted family behind and sets out across Northern Italia, searching for the meaning of freedom.
While his adopted family named him Bartolomeo, he changes the name when he leaves home to "Vaghi" which is Italian for "to wander." This is obviously fitting to his Gypsied lifestyle, but it is also symbolic for how, while he is always travelling, he never truly has a destination. Vaghi is really more comfortable in motion and has little desire for a place to call "home."
Will was born and raised for two years in London, England. His memories of the place are mostly speculative, farfetched glances from a combination of dull and unimportant tail-ends of dreams without proper conclusions. He occasionally wakes up and sees the world around him in a way that he feels shouldn’t be present. It’s the feeling that somehow, regardless of his experiences, there are bigger, better things out there than the small town he lives in.
Will’s introspective nature was not exactly preordained: after being both mentally strained and physically damaged form his tramatic experience with the wild dogs, he learned how to communicate through body movement and his writing. His father never returned from the war, so his mother had sent him to his uncle's to live in Italy so that she could raise his younger siblings and still makes ends meet. He hopes to see them again, someday.
Apollinaire means “surrealism” and was a word created by a writer who shared a friendship with Picasso. The curious word defines Will, meaning indepence, free will to create, and something. That’s his main goal in life; to find that something to fill the gap in mind. Something magnificent. Something horrible. Something more.
Although most percieve Shane as William's pet, Will treats Shane as an equal. He found that any living being with conscious thought could make choices just as any human could when he met Shane.
It’s not that he owns the dog, but that Shane has merely never left his side.
Shane is arguably the Most Loved, and/or Most Underappreciated character of the story, depending upon who you ask.
Also, while Shane and Vaghi share a general distate for each other, they both understand that they're stuck together and try to get over it (though they blatantly fail, occasionally).