Everyone in Lecce knew Baldo, the big and gentle Bracco Italiano, that belonged to the famous icecream shop in the old town of Lecce. When he passed away, the “Baldo family” missed not only him but a dog’s presence in the house. That’s how Chocolate Lab Ettore came into the picture – and stirred everything up. Two years and a couple of dog training sessions later wild young Ettore seems to fit in just fine
Why did you call your Gelateria Baldo Gelato? I hear Baldo the Bracco was kind of famous in Lecce…
It’s coincidence, actually. My ex partner Alberto and I were planning to open an icecream bar. Baldo, the Bracco, was our loved and appreciated companion, aristoctratic, superior, a phantastic dog. When we started to exchange emails with our architect in Milan, planning details etc., he himself started to put in “Baldo” as a reference to every note concerning the bar. We never changed it, also because the bar became Baldo’s favourite spot. He used to lie down in front of the staircase, often without a leash because there was no need, his nose in the warm Salento wind. Imagine that clients from Texas loved him so much that they found a breeder in the States, got the exact same dog and called him Baldo, like ours who sadly passed away a couple of years ago. But they wrote me telling that I’d sure be happy that there was another Bracco Baldo in this world.
Ettore is now two 1/2 years old. A male teenage Labrador. How did you cope during the first few months that are supposed to be challenging?
Well every dog is different and Ettore is definitely different to Baldo. But we love him just as much. He is crazy, in a nice way of course, never gets tired, never fights with other dogs. All he wants to do is play and have fun. Just lately we noticed his distinctly protective side and at times he can even become a guard dog with quite an unexpected temper. He would like to lead, I guess, that’s why he definitely needs to be managed, also because he weighs almost 40 kilos. What we did is set up a very precise set of roles, rules and duties for everyone in the house, without ever neglecting the aspect of cuddles and games.
Ettore is and he always will be an alpha male, a handsome big boy. He’s always been like that, since he was as a puppy. But as a puppy it was easier. One because he was younger and two because my ex-partner lived in Lecce and therefore I had a lot of free time in managing the family. Now that Ettore has grown up and my ex-partner has returned to live in Milan, everything became a bit more difficult. Especially the walkies! But for what it seems we’ll move to a house with an outside space soon, so we’ll manage, as we always did. Because let’s face it: Life with an animal may be more complicated at times, more stressful in other moments, dirtier always. But it’s definitely more cheerful!
You seem an artist in fitting everything in and leaving no one behind.
Well, you learn that it’s impossible do do everything. You better make a list of priorities, otherwise you won’t arrive at the end of the day or you just loose your mind. We always managed somehow, survived even in difficult times. My daughter runs around dressed and clean, the dog has no serious problems. And somehow I still manage not to loose sight of the company, my little icecream shop that supports us all. So in a way one thing feeds the other. I may go for a walk with Ettore and take advantage to breathe a little, maybe make up new icecream flavours in the meantime, get inspiration from other places and other people I meet on the way. My daughter Irene, too, learns a lot of things this way. She’s an only child, gets a lot of attention always and anyway. Telling her to wait sometimes, because Mom has to walk the dog, is educational.
What did you learn from your Labrador?
That everyone in the family has their own needs and we need to find a reconciliation that suits everyone, more or less. And that in the end love is sacrifice, but in the sense of something sacred. Love is made of rituals and daily attentions. Those we kind of cultivate.