Carson is our oldest Yorkshire Terrier. He was purchased as a companion dog from a local
breeder and has more than lived up to that companion adjective in the short time he has lived with us. He is always at our side – looking to play, looking to be held or simply looking for our approval. He is our first Yorkie and will always have a special place in our family and our life.
Romeo became part of our family about a year later. He was to lead our breeding program, having come to us from a champion breeder and possessed with a style and swagger that can only be ascribed to an alpha male.
Carson, we assumed, would not take issue with the new male in our home. We also assumed Romeo would not take issue with Carson as a potential competitor for the attention of our females or as the male head of the household because Carson was neutered. We were wrong on both assumptions.
Over time, the two males began to snarl and fight with each other. It seemed to my wife and I that they think they have to do battle with each other to gain our attention. I will give you an example of this strange behavior. The other day I was quietly sitting on the couch with Carson watching “The Office”. Suddenly, Romeo jumped up on the couch and lay as close as he could get against my right leg. Carson picked his head up from my left side and began to growl. The intensity of his growl grew until Romeo stood up and growled right back. Carson then lunged toward Romeo and they harmlessly locked on to each other’s coats, all the while still growling and snarling at each other. It took me a few moments to untangle them and calm them down. Then, just like a referee in a boxing ring, I sent each dog to a different corner of the room as a “time out”.
That wasn’t the only time they have fought. Suffice it to say, the two males (one neutered and one not) have frequent moments where they are not shining examples of Yorkie love and tenderness. It is because of this on-going struggle that a recent situation caused us to not only re-evaluate their relationship but also tugged firmly on our family’s heart strings.
Carson became ill. It was a simple case of an upset digestive track. He was lethargic, not eating and was just not acting like his normal, happy-go-lucky self. At one point, Carson simply lay down on the floor, not interested in joining the others as they played and ran out the doggie door to go outside.
What is remarkable in this story is what happens next. Obviously sensing something was very wrong with Carson, Romeo gallantly came to his aid. Rather than choosing to fight with or even playfully snapping at Carson, Romeo did not make any aggressive moves, nor did he try to impose his “Alpha Dog” status on him. Instead, he lay down tenderly next to Carson as if to comfort him through his illness. Romeo also heroically stood guard by Carson’s side and ensured the other dogs didn’t get to close and bother Carson as he tried to recover. He did this for hours until Carson began to feel stronger and started interacting normally with our other Yorkies.
It is hard to imagine how a small Yorkie can exhibit such concern and care for another of their kind when those wonderful attributes are frequently missing from their masters and owners.
We will keep you posted if this becomes a true and lasting peace treaty, or if all we witnessed was a temporary cease fire.