|Alfie: 2002 - 2016|
Last night Mam and I took Alfie to the vet for the final time. He'd been diagnosed with kidney disease late last year but this week he took a turn for the worse and, a couple of days ago, he stopped eating. He had a brief hurrah yesterday afternoon when he ran through the house after the sound of the doorbell signalled my arrival to pick him up and bring him to my house for a bit while Mam went out, but he was never going to get better and was going downhill fast. Within two minutes of going in the consulting room, the vet told us that it was time and he was right: Mam and I looked at each other and nodded our agreement, she signed the forms, said goodbye and took Archie out to the waiting room (we'd left my house in a hurry and so had to bring Archie with us), while I waited with Alfie and kept him company while he left us.
Alfie, you were a right s*d when you first came into our lives: around nine months in the rescue centre combined with being a dominant/high-ranking dog meant that you tried to exert dominance over your new pack, but you were very loving and one look in those sad brown eyes was enough to stop the telling off being quite so severe.
You took us for fools for the first eleven years we knew you, making out that you'd been behind the door when brains were given out. As it turns out, you were right at the front of the queue for brains, cunning and dominance, as you were for loyalty and insouciance. The moment you went upstairs and brought down your extra specially fluffy and warm night time blanket and put it in your daytime bed was the moment I knew we'd been conned. I have a sneaking admiration for how well you fooled us all and how well you continued the charade once you'd been rumbled - you still insisted you couldn't nudge open a door with your nose or arrange your bed to your exacting standards and you often got away with it with Mam. You knew I wouldn't let you get away with it, though, and altered your behaviour when I came round - you would ruck up your bed, look at Mam, half open your mouth in preparation for a single, indignant bark and then catch sight of me staring at you and change your mind. It never failed to make me laugh!
Your search for the perfect patch of sun was constantly on-going and, like the rest of your whippet clan, you were cat-like in your adoration of warm patches and beds. And if a warm bed in a patch of sun wasn't available, you'd create your own:
You had to be kept on a lead at all times when outside as your sight hound instincts were honed to perfection, we think by your previous owners who, after spending quite a lot of money getting your ankle fixed after a bad break, tied you up outside a small local rescue centre one night and crept away. We think they realised you'd never have the stamina you once had, and decided to leave you somewhere you'd be looked after. You were the only dog we'd known who could be on an extending lead and weave round lampposts and trees without getting snarled up. You were also the only dog we'd met who could keep pace with galloping horses, even when they veered into the shallows to get away from you. You weren't hunting them, you just thought they were big dogs who would chase you, unlike Archie who couldn't even really be goaded into wrestling or playing with you - it didn't stop you trying, though! (You were also the only dog we knew who pinched raw meat out of the wok, while the burner was on underneath it, and then proceeded to pinch the replacement, frozen meat when it was briefly left on the draining board next to the microwave. Your cheek knew no bounds, especially when it came to food which wasn't 'dog' food!)
|Go on, you know you want to play with me...|
Your love of warm patches and beds meant that you were always trying to pinch Archie's bed, and would deliberately goad him into getting off his bed just so you could get in it. Even when the bed was plainly too small for you, you still wanted it:
And why pinch one bed when you can pinch two?
There were times when you managed to settle down next to Archie without shoving him off his bed, but they were few and far between:
You both managed it again yesterday, too, just hours before you left this house for good:
You were fascinated by Archie's ability to play hide and seek in his bed, but you never quite got the hang of his near-perfect camouflage:
Even yesterday, when you must have been feeling rotten, you lived up to your reputation and pinched the bed Archie had been warming all day:
When I took this photo, I thought the caption was going to be 'Someone's been sleeping in my bed, and he's still in it!', but now it seems as though Alfie was saying 'I'm poorly, I'm entitled to the best bed, get over it.'
You loved a good fuss and thought you were a lap dog, except when you were pogo-ing in front of someone in an attempt to give them a 'kiss'. You'd climb on a warm lap, take your back feet off the floor (you were always trying to get them on the settee but you never got away with it!) and have your whole weight perfectly balanced as your deep ribcage would counterbalance your powerful hind legs. If you really wanted to make yourself at home, you'd put your front paws on the lap-owner's shoulder and attempt to lick them.
You loved playing with a tennis ball, but only in the house and only on your terms. There were many times when you would watch the ball roll off your crossed paws and it seemed as though you were convinced it was alive; no matter how closely you watched it, you could never catch it in the act of being alive or initiating movement.
In common with other big dogs, you never stood when you could lean, preferably against someone's legs, but a wall would suffice if no people were available. You were never comfortable sitting because your backside was too bony, but you did love to curl up in a tiny ball or collect all your legs in front of you, perhaps because you wanted to count them all and check you hadn't lost any.
You were terrific with children of all ages and tolerated being fussed over by toddlers or being read a story by a young and adoring girl - you even put your paws on her lap so she could cuddle you while she read, just as her parents do to her when it's bedtime. Young children would always point at you in the street and shout 'it's the big bad wolf!' or be scared because your muzzle made you look fierce. You never minded stopping your walk to calm the little ones and show them your kind eyes.
In most photos you look dignified and handsome, but last year I managed to take one where you looked slightly less dignified than normal:
Alfie, you were adored and you are missed.
|I always loved that Mr Majeika tuft of hair...|