Myself and Alfie in my garden last year.

I’ve always been obsessed with animals and I come from a dog family. When my elderly dog Mindy died tragically on Christmas Eve, it wasn’t long before I was on the hunt for our next dog.

Don’t get me wrong, I adored Mindy and was extremely sad that she was gone, but I was afraid that if we didn’t find another dog to love, we just wouldn’t get one. My parents weren’t long separated, meaning our house already felt somewhat weird. I wanted a new dog and I decided that we were getting one.

It surprisingly didn’t take me very long to find one. I was helping my Dad with the grocery shopping when we spotted a little notice on those billboards that they have in supermarkets. A nearby family were looking to give a young collie to a good home. This was it, we were getting this dog.

We drove out that night to see him. My Mam, my Dad my sisters and I bundled into the car on a snowy evening and I was incredibly excited. My Mam half-heartedly tried to say things about how we shouldn’t get our hopes up and how just because we were going to see him, didn’t mean we were taking him. But then she took one look at my face and gave up. We were getting this dog. I was counting on it.

We arrived in the driveway of the address that we were given and it seemed the whole family (and extended family) were there to say goodbye to this dog. They told us that he’d been their Granny’s, but she had to get rid of him when she broke her hip and couldn’t look after him anymore (Mam would later start to think that Alfie had been the one to break her hip). We played with him for a few minutes and held him on the lead (he was very good…we thought) and then we decided that we were taking him home.

When we got home, I immediately lead Alfie into the sitting room so he could sit beside me while I watched TV (my favourite thing to do). He did not sit down by the fire like Mindy used to do, instead he went into the corner of the room and peed on the carpet. I was speechless. “Ehm…Mam,” I called, feeling as though I was about to tell on a sibling. Mam was disgusted. He was sent outside while she cleaned up his pee.

We sat down to watch TV and I couldn’t sit still, thinking about Alfie running around outside in the cold. I asked Mam whether we could bring him back in and she reluctantly agreed. Mindy used to love nothing more than sitting by the fire while we watched TV. You’d often find me crawling down to the floor and lying my head on her chest. She was restless unless we were all together in the one room. She loved being with us.

When I went out to get Alfie it took me ages to find him, he was energetically running around our field He came into the sitting room and immediately refused to sit down, instead, sniffing the entire room before walking up to my Mam and barking into her face, nearly giving her a heart attack in the process. Alfie was immediately sent into his little bedroom for the night. I remember leading him in, giving him a quick hug and heading upstairs.

Going to bed, I was slightly worried about Alfie’s behaviour but I knew we’d figure it out. I took his craziness as evidence of spirit and his lack of discipline as humorous. What I’m saying is that while the rest of my family were probably wondering what the hell to do about this rambunctious, troublesome, energetic dog, I was in love.

There was no way he was going anywhere.

Listen to an interview with my sister Emma about racism:

 Read what it was like to live four months without any sex hormones here.

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