Once upon a time, after a nomadic lifestyle, I found a place to settle down. It was a magical place called Piemonte. Colette and Godot had enjoyed our paripatetic adventure for 16 years and I just had to bring another generation of papillons to come play and complete our new arcadia.
As an American I always had our dogs fixed but living in nature, in the middle of nowhere, we decided Gigi and Gaston could keep their balls. When in Rome, as they say, after all, this is what the Italians do with their dogs.
For 7 yrs, two blissed out brothers appeared like bookends. They licked and kissed one another, a loving way of offering each other the high-five, and often. I’d never seen two dogs behave this way. The breeder was grateful I decided to take Gaston when I found Gigi on the internet. The brothers were found in a town called Piacenza, located two hours away, in the region of Emilia-Romagna. Perhaps they weren’t the brightest, but each uniquely endearing, almost dream like in their mutual affection. Gigi was laid back, Gaston slightly neurotic, suffering FOMO every now and then. He needed Gigi more than the other way around. As the breeder said, “It’s all about Gigi”.
Then one day Gigi’s ‘alpha male’ tendencies came out in dramatic fashion. He decided Gaston must die. For 3 days our home was like ‘fight club’. Gigi, when they weren’t isolated, the aggressor, every time. Maybe once a year they got in a tussle, yet I’d experienced this with our first generation, it wasn’t a concern.
This time was different, our home was turned upside down. I called the breeder for info and she confirmed their father had ‘alpha male’ qualities. Gigi inherited them while Gaston did not. It wasn’t just about the food dish. Gigi would start and they were hard to pull apart – blood pouring from their mouths, sprained limbs that gratefully healed by the next day. Gaston gave as good as he got, as our vet said, “He’s perfect,” long, strong and agile. I was slightly in shock. This phase so sudden, like their fights. Something had to be done.
Our local vet’s great, but being Italian, he recommended ‘calm pills’, to be taken for two weeks. I knew this would be a joke and took Gigi to our other place on Lake Garda and waited for the dose to enter his body. When I arrived home 10 days later the following morning I let them out, in less than a minute Gigi was on top of Gaston with Gaston’s 4 paws spread out, looking over at me for help. There was desperation on that face.
As if hearing my mother whisper in my ear, “They are not people, dear, they are dogs,” I grabbed Gigi by the nape of the neck and off to the vet we went to have his balls nipped off.
Within two hours Gigi was back home, and within two weeks they were licking and kissing again. A month or so has passed. Gigi is back to his old self and Gaston is relieved. Peace has entered our domain and bliss has returned between the two brothers. When I leave for errands and put them in the bedroom alone, I no longer worry; they are back in love.
Living happily ever after.