Always Room for a Little One

Gigi the Italian greyhound – or Madam Gigi if you would like her proper title, had been feeling unwell due to her eating a bone. Being one for enjoying her food, whatever Gigi ate was no real surprise to anyone and you can just ask her human about the ‘lettuce’ incident at the Iggy Christmas party one year – honestly, that story is legendry.

Madam Gigi – taken after the ‘lettuce incident’ – photograph by Samantha Rose

She is a beautiful and glamourous dog with a very well-spoken and some might say, posh accent (In case you didn’t know, in my stories all animals can talk – you just have to believe it). Just imagine a wealthy lady with flowing scarves tied round her neck, speaking at least 32 languages, wearing huge over-sized sunnies smelling of gorgeous expensive perfume which leaves wafts of it wherever she walks. If you can imagine that then you can imagine Gigi. 

Gigi’s brother – Rocco, now he is a different character altogether with a tendency to swear at random and inappropriate moments, fight with his invisible doggy friends (all dogs have invisible friends) and even attack his reflection in the mirror and bite his own hind legs for annoying him. Although Rocco may be scary on first impressions, once you get to know him he is an utter darling.

Rocco enjoying a cuddle off his lovely Mum – Photograph by Samantha Rose

One particular day, Gigi was curled up on the sofa because she wasn’t feeling too bright because the bone that she had eaten was causing her pain and it was decided that her human Mum would take her to the vet. 

About twenty minutes before the appointment, Gigi slowly got up to get smarten herself up, even in her time of sickness, she didn’t let her appearance slip up and while she was waiting for her human to get everything ready, Gigi was powdering her snout and spraying herself with her favourite perfume ‘Dog Eau De Ca Turd’.

Rocco was busy washing his genitals and not taking much notice of Gigi. It was girl thing you see, and he knew that Gigi had to be perfect before she left the house and if she was going on a lunch date with Nica and Zara, oh my goodness it put a whole new meaning to the words ‘Girl Power’.

But this time something made him look at her, something made him stop right in his tracks and REALLY look at her. Cocking his head to one side, he studied his sister who in between smoothing her fur down, was grimacing with pain and discomfort. “Are you OK Gigi?” Rocco frowned, then noticing that she was putting on her most glamourous scarf that she only ever wears for special occasions, he swallowed a couple of times and gulped.

Gigi took a deep breath before turning to face him and patted the floor a couple of times to signal for him to come over to her.

“No! No, I don’t want to hear it!” Rocco’s voice stumbled as he fought back the tears. “That scarf, that scarf – you said it was for a special occasion and you have owned it for years and have never worn it until today!”

“Rocco, we need to chat darling, come here.” Gigi said calmly. 

“No, I am not ready to come over, I am busy, no Gigi, don’t make me!” Rocco cried, but he knew he had to and usually nobody could make Rocco do anything that he didn’t want to do, but this time he knew that he had to go and sit by Gigi to hear what she had to say.

“Good lad!” Gigi smiled encouragingly, “Now, let’s have that chat…..”

As the two Italian greyhounds sat huddled up next to each other, Rocco listened to his sister talk while at the same time, trying hard to be the big strong brother that he knew she really needed.

Suddenly they were interrupted by their human Mum calling Gigi to take her to the car. “Right then, this is it!” Gigi nudged Rocco with her pointy snout. “Give me a hug then!”

Rocco stared at Gigi and thought how nice she looked with her scarlet red scarf wrapped around her neck, her fur smoothed back, the silver-grey fur on her muzzle and round her eyes making her look distinguished and ridiculously gorgeous. 

Leaning towards her to give her a hug, he thought how nice she smelt with her doggy cologne and just her own individual smell that all of our dogs/cats have and if you don’t believe me, go and smell your precious cat/dog now because they do have their own unique scent that simply cannot be replicated.

“Look after Mum for me and keep an eye out for Brutus, you know how he gets bullied by other dogs.” Gigi re-tied her scarf and gave Rocco a quick lick on the cheek.

“Promise you will let me know once you arrive?” Rocco whispered.

“You my dear brother, will be the first to know.” Then turning to face her Mum, Gigi allowed herself to be picked up and carried outside to the car. As Rocco ran to the window and pressed his snout up against the glass, he could see his Mum start up the car and drive off with Gigi in the back. 

Rocco left the window and trotted through the house, going from room to room to check. He eventually he found one of Gigi’s toys which he picked up and carried on to his bed and then burying his entire face in to the toy to muffle any sound, Rocco started to cry.

When glamour walks into the room

Bowie the Gatekeeper, Photograph by Fran Forbes

A large white greyhound known as Bowie (AKA – the Gatekeeper) stood outside a huge brass gate. Holding a clipboard with some names on it, he impatiently pressed the button on his biro pen a few times and frowned. Everyone was in that should have been, well except for one – one dog was late. Checking the list again, Bowie realised who it was and laughed, “Now why doesn’t that surprise me!”

A tan and white self-important looking staffie was chowing down on some doggy treats in a bag. Delving his snout into the packet, he triumphantly pulled out a kangaroo flavoured biscuit before offering Bowie one. “Fancy one Bowie? Who are we waiting for?”

Bowie politely declined the treats, he was watching his figure and wasn’t as active as some of the other dogs. “You will know soon enough, it will all kick off when they arrive I promise you that.”

The staffie shrugged and muttered something about going for a game of tennis ball with the kelpies that were waiting for him. A handsome black kelpie with a white cross on his chest, waved in the distance and yelled, “Are you coming Rex?”

Rex wagged his tail, “Yes Rocky, I will be there in a second!”

Bowie winked at him, “Off you go lad – your mates are waiting for you.” 

“Well, if you are sure…” Rex started to say but didn’t bother to finish because the temptation to play ball with the kelpies was just too much. Before Bowie got to say anything else, Rex was running as fast as his little legs would carry him to where the kelpies were and all you could hear was the typical ‘piggy’ and snorting sounds of an out of breath staffie dog.

“Thirty minutes late!” Bowie growled to himself, then lifting his head up high, his nose started to twitch as he picked up a scent. “Can anyone smell that? Smells like perfume?” 

He could hear her before he saw her, in fact there was no mistaking that voice. “Darling, I am finally here! Did you think that I wasn’t coming? You must tell me absolutely everything! 

“Oh God it is so good to not have that awful belly pain. They operated of course but I was so sick and had totally had enough of this old age lark. How amazing though, death-by-bone, what a way to go!”

Bowie laughed, it was hard to be annoyed with her. I mean, what a grand entrance to make and only she could carry it off, “Gigi, fashionably late as usual – loving the scarf sweetheart!” Then leaning towards her, he accepted her dramatic air-kiss on either side as Gigi made the ‘Mwah, Mwah!’ sound for effect as she kissed him.

Grabbing his biro pen, Bowie marked her off on his list. That was it for the day, the next intake would be tomorrow. He pointed ahead of him and nudged Gigi on her rump, “Are you ready then Gigi?” 

Gigi looked longingly through the gates. It was better than she ever could have imagined, so beautiful with all the animals looking in superb condition and what is more, she could not wait to go through and start enjoying her new-found health, youth and vitality.

“Oh darling, I just need to let someone know that I am here if that is OK?” Gigi gestured with her paws.

“OK, off you go then, but make it quick sweetie as I want to watch a dog program on TV later and I have some mates coming over for some dog beer.”

Gigi sat down, closed her eyes and took a deep breath and whispered, “Rocco, Madam Gigi has landed!” Then standing up and wagging her tail, she trotted over to where Bowie was standing.

“Ready?” Bowie nodded at her.

“You betcha I am ready!” Gigi clapped her paws.

They both walked to the gates which opened automatically to allow them to go through. 

As Gigi stepped over to the other side, with each step she became fitter, younger and more energetic until she became the age and fitness level that suited her best.

Over to where the kelpies were playing, one black kelpie in particular stopped playing ball with his mates. Glancing up he noticed Gigi walking towards them. Walking slowly towards her, the black kelpie beamed when he realised who it was.

Rocky patiently waiting for Gigi – Photograph by Samantha Rose

“Rocky, you waited for me – I knew you would, now tell me everything about this place!” Gigi barked at him.

 “Gigi, allow me to welcome you to Rainbow Bridge and you are going to love it…” Rocky greeted her warmly and led her to her new friends and a life that you and I as humans can only dream about.

At Rocco’s House

Rocco was asleep in his bed when suddenly he sat up and cocked his head to the side as though someone had called his name.

Getting up and having a stretch, Rocco looked up and started to wag his tail. He smiled and said in a quiet voice, “Thank you Gigi.” Then picking up his mobile, he texted his good friend Pippin Potter.

At Pippin’s House

Pippin Potter was in his office organising the Iggy Christmas party, it was the most anticipated and looked forward to event of the year and Pippin positively relished in organising it.

Pippin Potter – the organiser, Photograph by Samantha Rose

“Latte, can you come here please I have a job for you!” Pippin called out to his younger sister. But before he had chance to follow up on the conversation, his mobile phone beeped and a message flashed up from Rocco. Dabbing his pointy snout with his favourite blue silk handkerchief, Pippin picked up the phone and read the message.

“Pippin, I was busy you know, I am not your servant!” Latte sulked as she barged into his office. Then noticing the look on his face, she stopped in her tracks, “Is everything OK?”

Ignoring Latte, Pippin quickly composed a group text and then hit the ‘send’ button, “Go and get Bronte, I need to tell you both something”.

At Zara and Nica’s house

“I can’t believe she has gone.” Nica shook her head sadly as she had always been good friends with Gigi.

Zara snatched some handkerchiefs from the tissue box, wiped her eyes and then noisily blew her snout afterwards. “I just don’t understand why she had to go, why did she have to go Nica?” 

Nica being a much more sensible dog than Zara, smiled kindly at her sister. She wasn’t used to discussing Rainbow Bridge and had no idea that really was the best place for animals to go when their lives and purpose with their humans was done. “It was her time Zara, there comes a time in every animal’s life where they need to make their journey to Rainbow Bridge and today was Gigi’s.”

“Nica?” Zara asked her sister.

“Yes Zara?”

“Will Gigi like it there?” 

“Yes, Zara she will love it,” Nica answered truthfully. And with that answer, Zara had to be content.

At Rocco’s House

Despite Pippin Potter offering the group support for him, Rocco had declined, saying that he preferred his own company. He had even sent his invisible friends away so it was just Rocco and his own thoughts.

Rocco sat on the sofa and glanced around the living room. Gigi’s toys were where she had left them in the corner by her bed which had her favourite blankets still moulded into her shape where she had slept. Her bowls in the kitchen with the uneaten kibble and tiny paw prints where she had bought in some mud from the garden. Rocco wondered how could so much of her still be in the house without her being there?

Taking a deep breath and puffing his cheeks out, Rocco went to pick up Gigi’s toys. One by one, he tidied them up and placed them next to her bed then once he had finished, he pressed his nose onto her bed to take in her scent before getting in to her bed and curling up on the blankets. After a few minutes all you could hear were the gentle snores of an exhausted and heartbroken dog.

Rocco with Gigi’s toys – Photograph by Gwynneth Cavilla, published with her permission.

A couple of weeks later

“Go away, I hate everyone and no I am not interested!” Rocco barked furiously at whoever was knocking at his door. He had been a grumpy-guts all week, refusing to talk to anyone or discuss his feelings. Even Brutus couldn’t get through to him and that was saying something.

“Rocco my friend, it’s Pippin. Can you open the door – talk to me, you can’t stay shut in here forever.” The quiet, posh voice of Pippin Potter sounded from outside, in his well-spoken ‘BBC English’ accent that everyone knew and loved.

“Leave me alone! I don’t need any of you – bollocks to you all!” Rocco yelled. 

Pippin sighed, there was nothing he could do or say to break down the invisible barrier that Rocco had built up to keep everyone away and for the first time ever, he didn’t know what to do and Pippin always knew what to do.

Rainbow Bridge

Gigi had been at Rainbow Bridge for a few weeks but had still been keeping an eye on Rocco from above to see how he was coping. She was not happy with what she saw, she really had believed that Rocco would have started to move on or at least allowed his friends to be there to support him.

Rocky the kelpie and Gigi were relaxing on the sun loungers by the swimming pool one day. They often enjoyed one another’s company and would do respectable things like go to the opera or have dog beer while reading upmarket magazines and newspapers while discussing sheep herding or current affairs.

The pool really was rather marvellous non-slip rocks scattered on the edges. Balls and toys were everywhere for the dogs to play with and even some inflatables that magically stay inflated no matter how many times they are bitten. There were bottles of water and dog beer on the little round tables next to each sun lounger and bowls of dog biscuits and treats for those that wanted them.

A golden Labrador was swimming lengths in the pool while occasionally diving for his favourite rope toy. He was being cheered on by a brindle whippet who was coaching him. The pool was big enough for all to enjoy but the Labrador still kept a respectful distance from Gigi and Rocky because he thought that Gigi did not look like the type of dog to enjoy getting wet. He was right as well because later Gigi told him that she would actually melt if she went in the water and the Labrador never forgot it.

“He is in a pretty bad way Gigi, what are we going to do?” Rocky took a mouthful of his dog beer, savoured it in his mouth for a few seconds before swallowing it and giving a little belch. “Excuse me!” Rocky covered his mouth with his paw and blushed. Thank the Lord that Gigi hadn’t noticed as Rocky would have been mortified.

“I think it’s time that I sorted this out once and for all!” Gigi said firmly and placed her drink back on to the table.

 “Do you think he is ready?” Rocky asked as he stood up, stretched and walked to the edge of the pool, “After all – there is no going back if you do this.”

“Absolutely, I know my brother and he is more than ready. He just doesn’t know it yet.” Gigi gave a confident nod and raised her drink, “Cheers, here’s to Rocco!”

“To Rocco!” Rocky barked and dived into the pool to retrieve a tennis ball that he could ignore no longer.

One Month Later

Rocco had been in the foulest of moods since Gigi died. He had even taken to insulting strangers that knocked on the door and had told one salesman that he hoped that his testicles would fall off and be eaten by the crows.

His days were spent sitting by the window calling the neighbours dogs ugly and telling the poodles down the road that their hair looked shit. He had stopped hanging out with his invisible mates and had become so withdrawn from life that he wouldn’t even talk on the phone to his friend Brutus.

Anyway, it was one afternoon and Rocco as usual, had his grump on and was busy swearing at himself on his bed and chewing his own leg because it had moved without his consent. On hearing his human put the keys in the front door, Rocco quickly curled up into a ball so that he could pretend to be asleep – that way his human would think twice about disturbing him.

The door opened and Rocco felt a blast of fresh air infiltrate his nostrils, he closed his eyes tightly and shuddered out a big sigh. But then something else hit his nostrils and the scent was so strong that it may as well smacked him in the face and despite not wanting to open his eyes, the presence of something staring at him was that intense that he had no choice but to open them.

“Hello there! I am Cilla, I am going to be living with you! How jolly nice this house is, do you have any toys? I love toys, do you love toys? Where is my bed? Would you like to play? We are going to be lifelong friends! Aren’t you excited? I am excited!” 

Rocco was horrified to be met with the sight of a beautiful blue/fawn and white Italian greyhound puppy of about 8 months old. And like all Iggy puppies, she spoke fast while asking a plethora of questions and changing the subject several times in the process.

It’s not often that Rocco is lost for words but this time he was. He sat up, rubbed his eyes and watched little Cilla squealing with excitement as she ran from room to room, frantically circling every time she picked up a scent.

“Oh, look what I have found! How lovely, can I keep it?” Cilla ran up to Rocco with one of Gigi’s soft toys in her mouth.

“No! Get that out of your mouth now! It’s not yours, that is Gigi’s!” Rocco shouted at Cilla.

Startled, Cilla dropped the toy and scampered behind the sofa whimpering. 

“That’s not yours to take! Gigi would be furious if she were here!” Rocco growled and picked up the toy to take back to his bed. 

Too terrified to move, Cilla remained behind the sofa and eventually fell asleep in a tiny ball with her long legs folded up like a dead upturned spider and Rocco being the stubborn boy that he is, didn’t want to move either.

But Rocco needed to know more about this imposter. I mean she could be anyone – she could be intending to steal his toys, his human and everything. Curiosity got the better of him and he decided to go and check her out. 

“And another thing, you can’t just come in here thinking that it’s your home….” Rocco began to say but stopped when he saw little Cilla.

She looked so tiny and had a sweet puppy innocence about her. Where everything is exciting and wonderful, where every toy belongs to you, where everyone loves you and thinks that you are marvellous. Puppies often get into the wrong hands and don’t always end up in a good home and Rocco knew that from stuff his mates had told him. 

Cilla’s ears were neatly folded back on her head, her nose tucked under her tail by her bum. She had that delicious puppy smell that pups tend to have. It reminded Rocco of Zara, Latte and the other puppies that he had seen in the Iggy Club, puppies that he had grown to know and love.

Gigi would have loved her for sure and probably given her the toys because Gigi delighted in other dogs being happy and relished in making them so. Cilla was a blank canvas and Rocco realised that he could teach her everything he knew and how to be the best dog that she could be.

Feeling a huge pang of guilt that he had been so mean to her, Rocco went back to his bed and picked up Gigi’s toy. Careful not to wake her, he gently dropped the toy by Cilla’s paws and stared at her for a few minutes. Snuggling into the toy, Cilla made a few little puppy moans of contentment.

“I guess that Gigi won’t be needing that toy after all.” Rocco thought to himself. The temperature had dropped and Cilla shivered a little in her sleep tucking herself even tighter to keep warm.

Gigi used to love it when Rocco curled up next to her and they would keep each other warm. That was just what they would do for each other you see, it was what you would call a team effort I guess.

“Oh, alright then, if you insist!” Rocco shrugged and curled up on the floor next to Cilla. Shuffling across towards her, he felt her shivering to keep warm. Pressing himself closer towards her, he rested his head on her neck and it wasn’t long before he was fast asleep with the only thing between them was Gigi’s little stuffed toy.

Rocco lays the ground rules down for Cilla – Photograph by Gwynneth Cavilla, published with her permission

Always room for a little one

Gigi was alone in the gardens of Rainbow Bridge. She had been there for a few hours while having some quiet reflection. 

“Everything OK Gigi?” She heard Rocky’s voice from behind her.

Turning around, she beamed at him. “Yes, my friend, it most certainly is…”.

And the moral of the story is, when one beloved pet leaves our lives, it paves the way for another one to enter. It doesn’t mean that we love the old pet any less, it just means that there is always a space for another pet to love. It gives them a chance to have a loving home and it gives us the opportunity to love again and at the end of the day, a short time of loving a pet is far better than not loving one at all.

Gigi – Photograph by Samantha Rose

Dedicated to Tunamara Dolce Gigi 2006-2019

This story has been published with the kind permission of Rocco and Gigi’s human – Gwynneth.

Samantha Rose – Copyright (c) November 2019

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