Life with Alfie
Alfie is our dog, but not just any old dog; he’s brought our house to life and gives us so much unconditional love every moment of every day. Alfie is an adorable and delightful Maltese who very quickly, overnight in fact, became part of the family.
As Mum of this household, along with being the major decision maker around here, I’d been toying with the idea of helping my daughter to smile and granting her wish of having a dog. I must say that I had resisted this idea for years. The thought of muddy paw prints everywhere and dog hair over my furniture, chewed up and missing shoes and to be honest the drudgery of house training was all too much, and I had consistently said a big LOUD “NO!” However, for some reason something deep down inside me kept telling me it was what this house needed, and that it would bring lots of joy. So I found myself thinking about dogs and puppies most days, and sure enough I warmed to the idea and began focusing on the positives. I thought long and hard about whether a puppy would be right for us, as adorable as they are of course they are lots of work. Then I thought an older dog would be a better fit as it would already be trained, which as a novice seemed a better option.
I kept having flashbacks to scenes from the film ‘Beethoven’ and what’s the other one with a drooling dog, of course, yes, ‘Turner and Hooch.’ Now I knew I could definitely not cope with a dog that drooled or left unwanted presents everywhere because it hadn’t really been trained at all. So, yes you’ve got it, decision to invite a dog into our family was really the easy part, even though I’d agonised over the thought forever!
So instead of suffering with such decisions in silence I decided to give my daughter the good news, which was met with a shrill teenage scream of good fortune as if the latest boy band was coming to tea, and comments of, “Are you kidding me,” “No, you’re lying to me, you don’t mean it really, you’re just teasing aren’t you?”
When she finally realised I was being serious and we were definitely getting a dog it was time to discuss our options. It was at this point that I discovered that she already knew the breed of dog that she wanted, which was a Maltese of course. I must say that I didn’t know what a Maltese was so quickly looked it up online, along with a complete but of course general profile of expected behaviour, temperament, size, and other information including impending hair loss! I was pleasantly surprised and began to feel smitten with the idea, even though I was still a little apprehensive. It was a bit like the feeling of suddenly realising you’re about to become a Mum, and then the thought of how big the responsibility for another little human is going to be, and its forever, and you begin to doubt yourself, just a little. You know the silent internal panic you experience when you worry you might not be as good as you need to be hits you. Well that was what was going on inside of me. What if I couldn’t train it properly, or what if I ended up feeling like it was a mistake or I turned out to be a dreadful dog parent.
Then I looked at my daughter and once again saw the excited look on her face and listened to her constant chatter about how lovely it was going to be and I looked at the little doggie faces that she was mulling over and I just knew somewhere deep down that it was the right path for us, and for me. I didn’t know why, it just was, and somewhere out there was a little white fluff ball that was waiting for us to come and find him. Yes, you’re right; it was definitely going to be a boy. So I once again found myself falling asleep asking for the perfect little Maltese to come into our family.
The next evening I enlightened my older children that Mum had agreed to have a new addition, namely a little dog. They couldn’t believe it and promptly decided that Mum must be having a mid-life crisis! Instead of taking umbrage, I asked one of my sons to help me find a dog; a dog for US. I discussed my dilemma of a puppy or an older dog, and after some more thought we decided that a puppy might be the better option rather than risk getting a dog that had been trained to fit someone else’s life style and then find that we experienced problems with that. So we began searching for our little Maltese.
We looked at lots and lots of adverts and sought advice on choosing the right dog. It very quickly became clear that it was not as easy as it looked, and there were more things to be wary of than anything else. My son and I shared ads and ideas on Facebook messages till the early hours and I couldn’t believe how excited I was beginning to feel about the thought of this little dog. I began experiencing little visualisations of happy family moments with him, trips to the beach and walks through the woods and to the river and the lake, it all began to feel so real and so right, even though we hadn’t found him yet. Eventually we narrowed it down to a few that appeared well looked after and were within a reasonable driving distance that we didn’t have to book a hotel overnight! So we contacted the owners and waited for replies. Some unfortunately we were too late for and they had already been placed with a family and there were a couple that we decided weren’t for us and then it was back to the drawing board so to speak, and we set off looking again.
The next day, as I arrived home from work, my daughter was already looking and had found a couple of interesting ads and had sent them to her brother for him to make contact with the owners. Two sounded very promising but one of them we couldn’t visit until either the next day or the day after as the owners were not available. We had liked the sound of that little dog and had a good feeling and the plus was that it wasn’t too far, in fact only about an hour’s drive away, but the other dog too sounded good although he was a little older, still a puppy but about 4 months and it was a longer drive up North and the forecast had given more snow. I looked at the clock and then at my son, and we decided that if we set off immediately we could be there by 8:30 – 9pm, and although we’d be back late on a school night it would be ok. Something was telling me this was the one, although I wasn’t sure at this point if I was just eager. So we set off for Yorkshire and had lots of fun trying to decide on a name as we traveled along.
We arrived just before nine and as soon as we saw Alfie we were smitten and he looked so well looked after, and it was confirmed that he was used to children as the family had two little ones including a baby. That had been a consideration for us as we have grandchildren who often visit. We had a bit of shock when a passport was produced for Alfie just before we left, and we discovered he had come from Hungary! After a long conversation about how he had arrived here, seemingly he had been from a litter of pups from the young woman’s grandmother’s family dog and they had brought him to the UK after a recent visit. Everything seemed in order so with that my delighted daughter picked him up and carried him carefully to the car. I was surprised to find myself fussing about it being a cold night and that he was so little and had come from a very warm room, but we were soon back on the road and heading for home.
Surprisingly, the car was very quiet, and I suddenly found myself deep in thought and beginning to worry that maybe things weren’t as straight forward as they had seemed, that if everything wasn’t above board that we may find that he wouldn’t be healthy, I began to feel concerned for our little dog’s welfare. My son said that I seemed quiet and I told him my concerns. He asked if I wanted to take the dog back but I said no, he was ours now, he was part of our family. We decided that the best thing was to get him registered and seen by a vet as soon as possible to have him thoroughly checked out.
Alfie was extremely quiet throughout the whole journey as he lay on my daughter’s lap in the back. Luckily he slept most of the way as we worried when she said that she could feel him physically shaking when he woke up. I assured her it was probably because he didn’t know who any of us were yet and was probably confused about where he was and where he was going, and he would need time to settle in and get used to us.
When we arrived home my husband was waiting outside to greet us and the new addition. He remarked how cute and little he was and was eager to touch him and take charge! A cuppa was in order after such a long journey there and back and a quick chat over our concerns and plans for welcoming and settling Alfie into our home and our family, and all the necessary arrangements to be made to make sure he is well looked after. So it was decided that my husband would organise the first visit to the vet and we would go to the pet store the next day after work to get him a bed, food and grooming stuff and whatever else we thought we might need. Then we settled him for the night with some old towels so he could snuggle up warm.
We never heard a peep all night, or maybe we were too exhausted after such a long journey and late night to hear anything! But when we entered the kitchen where Alfie had spent the night what a surprise we had. We were presented with the most adorable little dog jumping and practically somersaulting with excitement. He continually stood on his little back legs as if he was dancing, he was such a delight first thing in the morning, and he filled the room with smiles. He was so loving and pleased to see everyone, so different than the quiet little dog that had journeyed back with us the night before. All my doubts about whether he was right for us were swept away in an instant, he was perfect, he was divine, and he was OUR little Alfie… and Life With Alfie was now ap art of our everyday life,
Elaine W Shaw
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