After I had moved out of the house, I used to miss Alfie like crazy. Because I could barely ever get an opportunity to visit home, I rarely got to see any of my animals (something I hated). When Christmas came along last year, I had finally put aside a large chunk of time that I’d be able to spend at home. Amongst other things, I was very much looking forward to getting some quality time with Alfie.
When I got home, I used to spend my days catching up on writing. I’d lock myself into the office in our house and do my very best not to get distracted, but Alfie would not take no for an answer. He’d scratch and jump at the door until I let him in and then he’d pace the office, coming over to me every now and again and putting his head in my lap. I’m ashamed to say that I was quite intolerant of this and would often end up putting him outside.
When I’d had my heart broken at seventeen and began to suffer from a bout of intense depression, I was in the house more and more often. Neither of my sisters lived at home and I felt embarrassed confiding my heartbreak to my Mam, which meant that I sought refuge in Alfie an awful lot.
I often used to sit in the garden, writing in my diary or reading on an old picnic blanket. He’d run around the garden checking on our chickens, cats and horse but he’d always come back to check on me too. Sometimes he’d sit on the blanket with me, his head in my lap or he’d just watch me while I wrote furiously. He could be incredibly inconvenient, stepping on my diary or my book as I tried to distract myself from my pain, but I could never be mad at him for it.
There were a lot of things Alfie did that make me laugh out loud when I think about them. He was such a funny and cheeky dog and my whole family couldn’t help but love him for that.
I remember I once walked out to the hall in our house and found him standing with all four legs squished onto our tiny windowsill. He tried to turn his head to look at me and almost fell, managing to balance himself at the last minute. I immediately collapsed into laughter for a minute before I could pull myself together enough to help him down.
When Alfie first moved in, he used to run away a lot. He’d go missing for a couple of hours before returning home to us that night. We were at a loss for what to do. We lived in an area where farmers would shoot any dogs that were on their land to stop them damaging their livestock, Alfie had his flaws but we certainly didn’t want that to happen. We set him up with a shock collar device, which sounds a lot crueller than it actually is, to keep him from going on his little trips where he did god knows what.
But he still used any opportunity he could to escape. Once, while I was taking him for a walk, I had to stop to tie my shoelace. I put the lead on the ground, resting my foot on it, but it slipped and the minute it did Alfie had no hesitation about bolting away from me.
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.