When Alfie retired as a Guide Dog in 2019 he went to live with the two humans he’d known for many years.
Alfie is a very special dog and is enjoying his retirement. After a life of being a Guide Dog and being best friend to his owner it’s time to kick back and enjoy being a much-loved dog in his new home. Then again, Alfie has always been a much loved dog.
Alfie is also a great confidante to his humans – they tell him all their thoughts and secrets…
14th March 2020
Working from home so I’m having a delivery of essential supplies – note the socially isolated house.
18th March 2020
How do I tell Alfie that his favourite cafe is closed for the time being?
Alfie came to live with us last year when he retired as a Guide Dog and he’s quickly found his way around a new town (that’s what Guide Dogs do). We can’t walk past ‘Alfie’s Cafe’ without him stopping at the door! He’s become something of a celebrity such that Jade Leaf Cafe is now dog-friendly and introduced their ‘sausage policy’.
Alfie hopes we can visit again soon.
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) is happy again.
Our early morning walk took us past his favourite cafe where he – as he always does – stopped at the door waiting to enter. Alfie is fully aware of Jade Leaf’s “sausage policy for dogs”.
Did he spot the “Takeaway Only” sign in the window?
21st March 2020
23rd March 2020 (UK Lockdown Day -1)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) was concerned during his morning walk.
He hasn’t understood why he has seen so many humans carrying so many big white things all of a sudden – probably because…
Now he can’t understand why, on our visit to the pet store that we came away without any of his food. I started to explain, “Empty shelves, Alfie”
25th March (UK Lockdown Day 2)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) is getting his daily exercise in the garden today – he’s enlisted the help of one of his humans to throw his favourite red ball while the other human pushes that noisy thing that eats grass.
There’s only so much ‘working from home’ to do when the day job is running LEGO Serious Play workshops.
26th March 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 3)
“OK, Alfie – let’s do it!”
When Alfie (retired Guide Dog) reminded me he was ready for breakfast this morning I patted his head and ran my hand along his back.
It occurred to me that I won’t get to my barber for my regular haircut for three months – or more. Alfie will continue to moult and look his best while the rest of us…
27th March 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 4)
Do dogs dream?
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) probably heard yesterday that many TV programmes have stopped recording and there are no audiences in the studio. Will he be upset that one of his favourites to sleep through on Saturday evenings, The Voice UK, is postponed to later in the year?
Was he dreaming when he took his evening nap? Is this what it looked like inside Alfie’s head? I’m sure he was pleased that one of the chairs turned for him.
“Who are you: Where are you from?”
“I’m Alfie. I’m from Wales.”
29th March (UK Lockdown Day 6)
Do dogs dream #2
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) is excited this morning; he thinks he’s the guest on BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs. He’s chosen his favourite music…
‘Mama told me not to come’ – Three Dog Night
‘Hound Dog’ – Elvis Presley
‘Black Dog’ – Led Zeppelin
‘I love my dog’ – Cat Stevens
‘Walking the dog’ – Rolling Stones
‘Do the dog’ – Specials
‘So doggone lonesome’ – Johnny Cash
Alfie’s final choice and the one he’d rescue is Cilla’s “What’s it all about, Alfie?”
Alfie’s luxury is his favourite red ball and his book choice is about one of his friends, ‘A Puppy called Dez’; it reminds him of his own puppyhood and Guide Dog training. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25848611-a-puppy-called-dez—based-on-a-true-story
30th March (UK Lockdown Day 7)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) and I went for a walk this morning as part of our work from home exercise regime. Jade Leaf, Alfie’s favourite cafe, has closed again so although sausages are off the menu we still stopped at their door.
There’s wasn’t much traffic around and everyone was following the two metre rule with many crossing the road to avoid others.
Although Alfie is no longer working he hasn’t forgotten his training and like others he stops when a car is parked on the pavement*. It’s an unnecessary obstacle and a danger for some – drivers: please be considerate. (End of rant.)
*sidewalk for our American readers
31st March (UK Lockdown Day 8)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) shares something he heard on the radio this morning.
“Social distancing is working.” “There is still a way to go.”
Alfie knows how to stay in touch with his friends and family even if he can’t get together with them.
Alfie was surprised to hear of people having a party. “What planet are they from?” he asked.
1st April (UK Lockdown Day 9)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) took a different route on this morning’s walk. Alfie notices things – it’s part of his training.
So when he spotted a new building that wasn’t there a couple of weeks ago I had to explain; “That’s one of the new NHS Nightingale Hospitals, Alfie.”
“They’ve been built in double-quick time and the first will be open any day soon.” Alfie looked up at me in amazement; I could see what he was thinking. “Wow! Sometimes you humans are amazing. Can I have my sausage now?”
2nd April (UK lockdown Day 10)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog and local celebrity) has noticed on our walks that we cross roads many times and that we are avoiding other humans.
Every now and again his human calls ‘Hello’ to someone they’ve never met before. Then, yesterday, his human stopped and chatted to two other (unknown) humans across their front garden. For ten minutes.
When we resumed our walk, I asked Alfie, “What do you think, Alf: will we have more time for each other when all this is over?”
Alfie didn’t answer. His thoughts were on his next sausage.
2nd April 2020 Part II (UK lockdown Day 10)
This is a post that Alfie (retired Guide Dog) wants you to read, like and share. Alfie is concerned for one of his humans who works in a Post Office. If you’ve been in a Post Office recently you’ll be familiar with being asked, “…and what’s in the parcel?”
Alfie heard there’s a lot of chocolates and sweets being sent by post and wonders if it comes under the ‘essential’ category?
He looked up at me as though he was thinking, “Why are there so many humans doing this?” “Yes, Alfie – the advice is to only leave home to shop for basic necessities, (food and medicine), one form of exercise, a medical need, or travel to work.”
Stay Safe – Stay Home – Save Lives
3rd April 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 11)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) was concerned on 23rd March when pet shops had empty shelves and he was running out of food. His human found someone who could deliver ‘Alfie’s Dinners’.
As we arrived home from this morning’s walk, Alfie stopped opposite the house and wouldn’t go any further. “Good boy, Alfie!” We ‘socially distanced’ ourselves until the courier had left Alfie’s bag of food on the doorstep. It wasn’t until she was on her way before we crossed the road to go home.
‘Hopefully the days of panic buying are over’, thinks Alfie.
4th April 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 12)
There’s nothing Alfie (retired Guide Dog) likes better than a run on the beach – especially when the tide is out. This morning, when he looked at me with his mournful eyes, I knew what he wanted to do. “Sun out. Tide out. Alfie out.”
“I’m sorry, Alf – it’s a stay home, stay safe, save lives day”. He continued to look at me, head cocked to one side, in that quizzical way dogs do. “No, we’re not going – if we do, people will die – and you heard as well as I did that staying home isn’t a request, it’s an instruction.”
I’m sure Alfie thought some people will be there. “Not us, Alfie.” With that he wandered off and curled up in his basket.
6th April 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 14)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) woke from his slumber when he heard his name in a family video call last evening.
Alfie doesn’t understand about social distancing, staying home and staying safe. He always gets excited when people come to stay – there’s usually a treat and always a lot of fuss for him. That won’t be happening this coming Easter weekend.
This morning as we walked, I turned to Alfie and explained that the idea is we isolate ourselves now and yes, at times it’s hard not seeing our loved ones. “The plan is, Alfie, when we can all get together again no-one is missing.”
7th April 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 15)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) had a duvet day today. He’s now asleep in front of the (unlit) fire. At his side is his favourite toy, ‘Dave the Teddy Bear’.
8th April 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 16)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) – under normal circumstances – would be on his way back from the airport and Alfie’s other human would be at 30,000 feet heading towards Florida to meet family.
Alfie and I were planning to head to the countryside for a camping weekend. We were looking forward to long walks and, thanks to Jade Leaf Cafe (see our earlier posts), one of Alfie’s favourites: sausages from the barbecue.
“Next year, Alfie.” We’re all socially distancing at home instead. We’ll still have a great time, just in a different way.
Just like Ava, Ellie, Eliza and Rory we’re staying safe, staying home and saving lives.
9th April 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 17)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) was on his morning walk and he knew I had some of his treats in my pocket – he kept nudging me with his nose; “Come on, human. Give me one of my treats.” He continued to nudge and eventually I relented. As I pulled a treat from my pocket some coin spilled onto the pavement.
As Alfie quickly devoured his treat I bent down to pick up the money I’d dropped. “Well, Alfie”, I said. “I can’t remember the last time I used actual money.” I told him that we’re all encouraged to use online or contactless payments. “Do you think this will change the way we pay for things?”
Alfie could only think of one thing as he nudged my pocket again.
10th April 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 18)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) stood on his doorstep last evening.
So did much of the country.
Thank you NHS.
Thank you key workers.
Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives.
12th April 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 20)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) doesn’t understand Easter but he is getting used to staying at home.
Before ‘Lockdown’ he’d enjoy visiting Jade Leaf Cafe where there was always a sausage waiting for him. This morning the Easter Bunny left a sausage in the garden for Alfie. He’s one happy dog.
Staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives works for Alfie.
14th April 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 22)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) isn’t the best cyclist in the world; probably not even in the top 100.
When we returned from this morning’s walk – with a smile and a ‘hello’ while avoiding others – it was time to sit down with a coffee and browse the front pages of the newspapers. I turned to Alfie who was now curled up at my feet; “There are still people who don’t get the idea of social distancing, Alf.”
He stirred and looked up at me. I’m sure he was thinking about his next meal. “Don’t worry, Alfie, we’ll be here to make sure you don’t go hungry.”
Staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives is important for Alfie.
15th April 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 23)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) has been introduced to County Cricket.
As lockdown continues there’s a need to be creative to ensure boredom doesn’t set in. So far, so good and with the cricket season due to have started it’s Glamorgan playing Warwickshire. Alfie hasn’t learned to take his turn with the bat but he makes a brilliant field dog. “Catch it, Alfie!”
Staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives is important for Alfie.
16th April 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 24)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) is used to seeing squirrels in the garden, as well as robins and their friends around the bird feeders. He paid no interest when we were visited by a pair of pheasants last weekend. I guess that’s his training not to chase dogs, cats and wildlife.
I think Alfie was as surprised as me this morning when we opened the door to a garden filled with ducks. If dogs can ‘double take’, then Alfie ‘double took’!
“What do you make of that, Alfie?” I asked; We’d heard of animals world-wide venturing out of their usual habitats; “I guess if Llandudno’s streets can fill with goats then why not. I wonder what the collective noun is for ducks?”
With that, Alfie found a quiet corner and cocked his leg. As he wandered back to the house his look said, ‘Time for breakfast.’
17th April 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 25)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) stopped at Jade Leaf Cafe’s closed door this morning as he does whenever we pass, ever hopeful for a sausage. I know what Alfie is looking forward to once lockdown is over. That had me thinking out loud, “I wonder what will be on people’s lists, Alfie?”
One of mine is catching up with the LEGO Serious Play community at our annual conference at the LEGO House in Billund. I let my thoughts wander for a moment, I could see myself taking my usual seat.
22nd April 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 30)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) chose to snooze through much of yesterday – he’s settling into ‘working from home’.
That meant that Alfie was awake early this morning with his ‘let’s go for a walk’ face appearing at the bedside. So there we were, a quick check of the morning’s headlines and then up and out before breakfast, taking in very quiet streets.
“Did you hear that, Alfie?” I asked as we walked. “Oxford University starts human trials of a vaccine tomorrow. That’s fast, Alfie.”
“If ever there is a time for necessity for being the mother of invention, the time is now.”
Alfie looked up at me and then picked up the pace as we turned for home. Breakfast was Alfie’s necessity right now.
26th April 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 34)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) has never been to Tenby in Wales. The trip his humans had planned for July to catch up with family and cheer on Michelle Taylor running the Wales Marathon and Martin Clayton in the Long Course cycling has been cancelled and we’re all staying at home.
Alfie may have sensed his human’s annoyance while reading this morning’s news. After all, he’s a perceptive dog.
“Listen to this, Alfie. It says, ‘Among the reasons given to officers were:
- Driving to Brecon to go fishing
- Driving to Tenby to fish for crabs
- Driving an 84-mile round-trip to “buy a wing mirror for a friend’s car”
- “To take some photos”
“I say this every week, Alfie. Some people still don’t get it.”
“Come on, Alfie. Let’s go into the garden and play ball. We’ll be safe there.” With that, Alfie picked up his ball and trotted outside.
27th April 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 35)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) has lost all track of days; then again, most days look the same to him.
Wake humans. Do hungry dance. Sniff garden. Breakfast. Walk. Sleep. Lunchtime carrot. Sleep. Garden ball chase. Sleep. Do hungry dance. Dinner. Sleep. Scooby Snacks. Sleep. Bed. Repeat.
Alfie has probably forgotten that it will be his birthday on Friday 1st May and hasn’t spotted that lockdown celebrations are already being planned for him.
Although it’ll be a small gathering this year, Alfie will still have a great day now that he can recognise his other humans when they Zoom call.
28th April 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 36)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) arrived home from his morning walk just before the rain. Alfie doesn’t like getting wet. “Looks like it’ll be a day indoors, Alfie. We’ll have the radio for company.”
It was almost 10:30 and time to sit down with coffee and take part in (I mean, listen to) BBC Radio 2’s Popmaster. With Alfie settled at my feet, it’s become a ‘working from home’ daily ritual. It wasn’t long before I was calling the answer, “Dark Side of the Moon”. The contestant didn’t hear. Even without my help, both contestants scored more than me. At least I did better than Alfie.
Twenty minutes later the radio announced a minute’s silence to commemorate the key workers whose lives have been lost to Covid19. The silence spoke much louder than any words.
Alfie went to the door and checked outside. It was still raining so he turned around and headed back indoors to offer me his paw. It was time for a lunchtime carrot.
29th April 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 37)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) doesn’t like rain. We learnt that yesterday, nor does he like getting wet full stop. So on another rainy day, one of his humans decided it time for Alfie’s bath. Alfie spotted towels and treats being taken upstairs and no amount of encouragement would entice him to follow.
With a carrot on offer (literally) he relented; the opportunity was too much for him.
Once lifted into the bath, Alfie stood motionless as water was poured over him and shampoo rubbed into his fur. He leapt from the bath as soon as he could, showering water further than thought possible.
Once dried with a towel and zipped into his doggy bag Alfie began to recover from his ordeal. He’ll look smart for his birthday party on Friday.
Sometimes Alfie, we have to do what is good for us even though we may not like or agree with it.
1st May 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 39)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) celebrates his birthday today. “Many happy returns of the day, Alfie.”
Plans to invite friends and family to Alfie’s party are on hold – we’re having our own lockdown party instead.
Alfie gave his presents a good sniff before settling on a particular one. “Is this the one to open first, Alfie?” “Ah, Scooby Snacks”, thought Alfie, his tail wagging. “My favourite!”
5th May 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 43)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) always enjoys his morning walk. The VW Beetle parked on the opposite pavement across the road wasn’t a problem for him today. As we waited to use the zebra crossing, a family of four crossed the road towards us.
I smiled. “Do you know what that reminds me of, Alfie?”
Alfie had a disappointed look on his face. Jade Leaf Cafe is still closed so there was no treat of a sausage.
We arrived home and I picked an LP from my collection. The record player’s needle settled into the first track of an album my mother listened to in 1969 and ‘Come Together’ came through the speakers.
Alfie settled at my feet. “I’m much too young to have seen them play live, Alfie but one day soon we’ll be able to come together with friends and family.”
Until then, we’re staying safe.
6th May 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 44)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) appears fast asleep in the evening but will always be listening around nine o’clock for “Is it time for Scooby Snacks?” Ten minutes later, Alfie has returned to his dreams.
That’s why he misses the late night television news. He won’t have noticed each day how creative and sharing people are – all while keeping a safe distance.
The item from Oxford showing how the Soundabout Inclusive Choir continues to collaborate while unable to be in the same space was inspiring.
Then the local news carried an item about how a street came together to remember the end of the war in Europe in a re-write of an event scheduled to take place in Chester’s city centre.
https://lnkd.in/duWMuzj (forward the clip to 7’ 10”)
It’ll be time for Alfie’s walk once I’ve posted this. He’s already getting impatient. “How can we be creative, Alfie?”
7th May 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 45)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) is following one of his humans into the garden: Alfie has seen his carrot. Alfie’s other human has been working in the garden making scrubs for the NHS since early morning.
Alfie had his ‘I want to play’ look but this went away as he began to crunch his carrot. “Sorry, Alfie. Today is a stay home, stay safe day. We’ll walk later but just for now we’re doing our little bit to protect the NHS.”
9th May 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 47)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) doesn’t understand Gantt charts. Instead, he does his hungry dance to say, “I want my dinner”. His human knows a lot about project planning project and Alfie will have to wait. His human explains.
“Think of dinner as a project, Alfie and you’re the key stakeholder. There’s a lot of things to happen before you can eat it”, his human said.
“Your food is made at a factory, bagged, sent to the shop, the human brings it home and some is put into your bowl at food time.” “Do you remember Alfie, at the start of lockdown when we couldn’t get your food?” Alfie didn’t remember that his food took more than two weeks to be delivered. “Sometimes we can’t put a date on things because we’ve never done them before, or know how long it takes.”
“Well, Covid-19 is a bit like that, Alfie. We can’t put a date on when everything’s in place to end lockdown and we go back to normal. There’ll be lots of triggers that will dictate progress, and there’ll be rework, too.”
Alfie looked up. “So, Alfie, stop nagging for your food. I’ll tell you when it’s ready!” Until then, here’s a Gantt chart that explains everything.
11th May 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 49)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) came to live with his new humans in December last year. He’d known them from soon after he’d qualified as a Guide Dog many years ago.
Since Alfie retired, the human he had looked after has been waiting to be matched with another dog. “Look at this in the news today, Alfie. It looks like it’ll be some time before someone takes on your old job.”
Alfie wagged his tail as his humans put on their coats. He knew we were about to take a walk. “Sorry, Alf, Jade Leaf Cafe is still closed so no sausages there today.”
12th May 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 50)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) stopped at the door of Jade Leaf Cafe on this morning’s walk. It’s been a long time since he’s announced his arrival to Moira and Nick; “I’m here for my sausage”.
“This is week 8, Alfie. We’ll be in lockdown for a while yet.”
With some persuasion, we walked on. There are so many independent businesses with ‘closed’ signs hanging inside their doors.
“I’m looking forward to them being turned to ‘open’, Alfie.” At the moment, spending Saturday mornings in a coffee shop and browsing a book shop are a distant memory.
13th May 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 51)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) wasn’t aware of the treat ahead of him as he reluctantly stepped outside for a lunchtime walk. He set off in true Guide Dog fashion with his tail gently wagging, “I know the way. Follow me.”
Stopping, then waiting for the command to cross roads, Alfie picked up the pace as he neared Jade Leaf Cafe, his favourite destination. Closed since the start of lockdown, Alfie is ever-hopeful that one day he would go inside rather than wait forlornly at the door.
Today is that day. His humans had ordered a takeaway lunch and for Alfie, two takeaway sausages. “That’s a big change from yesterday, Alfie. Happy now?”
Alfie walked home, keeping a watchful eye on his lunch bag – he knows what is inside. Alfie is a very happy dog again.
15th May 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 53)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) understands the benefits of lockdown. Not lockdown in a coronavirus way but one that brings rewards.
Alfie knows that whenever his humans sit at the dining table for a meal then he leaves the room. He’ll usually lie in the door way until he hears the call. “OK, Alfie, we’re finished. Good boy!”
Alfie walks into the room, his tail wagging and sits next to a human for one of his treats. It’s then on to the other human for a second. “Well done, Alfie.”
Alfie never breaks his lockdown until he hears it’s safe to do so.
18th May 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 56)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) uses Zoom. Official.
One of Alfie’s humans was on a Zoom call yesterday. After leaving the room momentarily, the human returned to see Alfie staring at the screen and listening to the continuing conversation.
“OK, Alfie. Is it my turn now?”
Is there a ‘Zoom for Dogs’ so Alfie can catch up with his Guide Dog chums and the other dogs he meets on his walks? Is Alfie missing seeing other dogs in lockdown?
I’m sure he’d like to meet his Guide Dog chums; Sophie, Sparky, Zola and Frank. Perhaps Yates, Gwen and Hobbs.
But not Dez. Alfie wasn’t impressed when Dez was awarded ‘Guide Dog of the Year’ and refuses to even sniff the two books written about him.
Does your dog Zoom?
20th May 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 58)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) had breakfast then stepped outside and shook himself. His fur glistened in the morning sunlight as it flew from his coat and floated on the gentle breeze. Alfie returned to the house his grooming complete.
“Now keep still” said one of his humans. “The length of that fringe would put Edinburgh to shame” she continued, scissors in hand.
Alfie’s other human hasn’t had a haircut for more than three months. It’s like the 1970s once again.
22nd May 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 60)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) doesn’t understand Bank Holidays. Every day is much the same to Alfie; he’s always happy to be fed and, like today, a walk to Jade Leaf Cafe for a special sausage takeaway treat. Alfie likes the beach, but not when it’s crowded. “Well, Alfie, we won’t be going to the beach this weekend; there’s sure to be lots of people there.”
I remembered a photograph I’d taken almost ten years ago to the day and something very similar had popped up on the BBC website last weekend.
Alfie ate his sausage. “Just because the lockdown is being eased, it doesn’t mean it’s over, Alf. Come on, let’s go home.”
25th May 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 63)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) had to wake his humans this morning. He wanted breakfast. Alfie’s humans spent yesterday evening at the local NHS hospital’s A&E department. They didn’t get home until very late.
“OK, Alfie. Let’s go downstairs.” Alfie followed his human to the kitchen, wagging his tail in that expectant way he does every morning.
“I wonder what we’d do Alfie if we were both unwell and couldn’t look after you?” Alfie’s eyes followed his bowl as it was filled with food.
“I guess we’d have to leave you with those other humans. They’re four hours away, Alf.” Alfie wasn’t interested. His instincts told him it was time to eat.
28th May 2020 (UK Lockdown Day 66)
Alfie (retired Guide Dog) hasn’t met Sparky.
Sparky was an excellent Guide Dog. He kept his human safe, providing guidance when they went for a walk. That came to an end when Sparky went walkabout by himself. His human didn’t know where to find him.
Sparky was suspended from work and went to live with Alfie’s humans while a decision was made on his future. It wasn’t long before Sparky jumped a high wall to escape his lockdown and took himself away to a nearby stream. Sparky loved to play in water.
No matter how good he was, Sparky could no longer be trusted. His career was over.