The Lessons Alfie Taught Me

The photograph below is of my three legged dog Alfie.
A very friendly animal, once you get to know him, Alfie is also one of the most difficult dogs I have ever re-homed.
While he loves women, and makes instant friends with the majority of them, Alfie can be very aggressive towards strange men. Especially those who are big and burly and wearing some kind of uniform.
Although he shares a home with three other rescue dogs, and gets on well with them. when he sees a strange dog Alfie becomes hard to handle, barking, snarling and pulling at his leash to get at them.
A woman I met, while walking Alfie told me I should have put down without delay.
Perhaps if you met him, especially if you are man, you would feel the same.
But let me tell you a little about Alfie.
Born in the Middle East he lived, for the first couple of years of his life, in a small village.
One morning soldiers came to the village hunting terrorists. Believing a field they had to cross might have been minded, they hit upon the scheme of rounding up half a dozen village dogs and driving them across the field to see how many would be blown up. Alfie was one of the six.
The field was indeed mined.
Two of the dogs were killed outright and three escaped uninjured.
Alfie had his right front leg blown off.
The soldiers would have shot him on the spot but a British vet, working for a local charity, persuaded them to let her save the dog’s life by amputating his badly mutilated limb.
Alfie survived but spent the next few years of his life in a rescue centre, fighting for every scrap of food, and what little affection there was, with scores of able bodied dogs.
Over the years many of the other dogs found new homes. But no one wanted to take on a disabled animal.
Then a charitable expat English lady paid for him to be sent to England in the hope he would find a home here.
On arrival, his pet passport was found to be a few days out of date.
Alfie spent the next six months in quarantine, Alfie was sent to another rescue centre where, a year later, I found him and gave him a permanent home.
That was five years ago and his behaviour has improved since then although he is never to be trusted with unfamiliar dogs. Animals he most likely regards as challengers to his food and security.
His fear of burly men in uniform is perhaps because they are associated in his mind with the soldiers who were so brutal towards him.
My point in telling you his story is that, in my work as a therapist, I have come  across quite a few two-legged Alfie’s.
Men and women it was hard to like at first, and often at second or third meeting! I always tried to appreciate that many of the adults, and sadly not a few children, we meet have been through bad experiences. Traumatic events that helped shape their personality and the way in which they relate to with others.
It’s worth bearing the story of Alfie in mind the next time you feel like making an instant judgement on someone you have just met.