Saturday, 6 February 2016

Farewell, Alfie


Farewell, Alfie
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.

Alfie in 2003 or 2004 (ish)

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:

Alfie in the flowers

Oh, I think this wall is dodgy.

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...
You could scale seven foot fences without a backwards glance and once you were in hunt mode, we stood no chance of getting you back until the spell was broken and you came looking for us.  Several times you had me and Dad (and other dog walkers) searching for you and guarding the entrances to the railway line and roads.  Seeing you leap effortlessly over a five bar gate, mere feet behind a deer was a magnificent and terrifying sight - you wore a muzzle so no harm could come to the deer but we hated the thought of you scaring it.   As a deerhound/whippet cross, you were built to run for miles and miles, and indeed there were times when you did, with us after you!  You paid equal attention to field mice and voles, searching for them in the long grass with your slender snout and keen eyes and there were times when we only knew you were still in the field because we could see the disturbances in the waist-high grass as you raced around after your quarry.

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:

alfietext

And why pinch one bed when you can pinch two?

I've got both now!

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:

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You both managed it again yesterday, too, just hours before you left this house for good:

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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:
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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:
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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.

Alfie


P1000270

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.

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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:
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Alfie, you were adored and you are missed.

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I always loved that Mr Majeika tuft of hair...

Goodbye, Alfie.



31 comments:

  1. Alfie a life in photos, what a lovely tribute to a much loved dog.

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  2. I am so sorry, this is the part that we dread, that day....we know it is the right thing but why doesn't our brain tell our heart. I cannot read this beautiful post, I read some but had to stop. I believe in The Rainbow Bridge, I believe that we will all be together and that will be forever - for eternity, this is what keeps me going. I thank you from my heart for giving Alfie such a wonderful home and life. I know God is blessing you.

    Big hugs to Archie. Our Vet once told us that dogs handle loss better than we do, that may be true but they need to grieve, maybe in their own doggy way, but I know they grieve.

    I am so, so, very sorry.

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  3. What a character! Sending hugs...

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  4. What a character! Sending hugs...

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  5. What a lovely tribute to a smashing dog - how sad, I'm so sorry for you.

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  6. Aw H, I'm so sorry! What a beautiful eulogy to a wonderfully characterful dog. Big hugs, Jxo

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  7. He had a long and happy (eventually) life for a big dog, thanks to you. A very sad day for all of you.

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  8. What an amazing tribute to Alfie. Was thinking about him and Archie just the other day. I'm so sorry for your loss xx

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  9. I'm sorry for your loss! Archie will be sad for a bit too, I'm sure. They get used to other dogs being around. Hugs!

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  10. Oh Gosh. My eyes got all teary for you.
    Your Poor Mam... and Archie. Her house will smell of Alfie, and Archie wont understand, surely?
    Thats sad news . . esp when I thought Archie was the fragile one. .. wasnt expecting Alfie to be poorly.
    But what a life with you guys! A spoilt and adored doggy. RIP ALfie.
    I still smile at the thought of them waiting for Father Xmas. xx

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  11. It is so lovely to read about what a great friend and member of your family that Alfie was. I am so sorry to hear of his passing.

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  12. You've given us a real feel for Alfie's character, personality and history, and have written a really moving tribute to him. I hope this very fitting eulogy has helped you feel that he's still with you in some sense, gone but never forgotten.

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  13. So sorry to hear you had to let such a good friend go. I am sure he will be much missed but fondly remembered.

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  14. I too have read your post here in tears and am writing this very teary! I am so sorry to read about Alfie but my gosh you have written a wonderful tribute to him. We had to take our old dog to the vet in September and our 18yr old cat in December - it is the hardest and most heartbreaking thing to have to do,but as was the case with Alfie both had chronic problems which went acute in 24 hrs - there was nothing which could be done.
    Hugs to Archie and too you and your Mam from a life long dog lover and best friend of seven Irish Setters for 40 years.

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  15. What a great character, wonderful obituary, sad time for you all Helen.xx

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  16. Oh, I'm so sorry to hear this, what a handsome boy he was and a beautifully written tribute. Sending virtual hugs xxx

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  17. Dear Helen, such heart breaking news, but a lovely and beautifully written tribute to Alfie. What a truly wonderful furry. I am so sorry for your loss, Hugs to you all <3

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  18. Oh bless Alfie had the best home ever, big hugs to you and your mother xx

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  19. Oh bless Alfie had the best home ever, big hugs to you and your mother xx

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  20. Hi Helen. I was really sad to read your post. Alfie looked a real character. I am sure that he will be sorely missed. Love Di x

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  21. Dear Helen, I'm so sorry to hear about Alfie. I can imagine how special he was and I was always happy to see his photos. Goodbye Alfie - you were loved and we all miss you. Hugs to you, your mother and Archie. x Teje

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  22. Oh Helen what a wonderful blog post about a clearly wonderful dog - such a character! Thank you for sharing this and a big hug to you xxx

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  23. What a wonderful tribute to a great dog. Sorry for your loss.

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  24. So sorry Helen. This is a beautiful post and I'm sending huge hugs xxxxxxxxxx

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  25. What a beautifully written tribute. I am sorry for your loss.

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