Alf / Fred’s Story ~ Ann Read, Victoria
We decided to take Alf (sight unseen) when our older dog Ozzie, became unwell. We assumed he would suffer the same fate as our previous two dogs, his half-brothers, who died of lymphoma when they were six.
Alf was nearly three, the same age as our younger dog, Wellington. We bundled Ozzie and Wellington into the car and headed to the Hattons’ Airedale Kennels to collect Alf. We assumed Alf would be waiting, and sure enough there was a smallish good-looking Airedale, very pleased to see us. “Oh no”, said Peter Hatton,” that is not Alf. I’ll just lock this one away and get Alf”.
Out came Alf, a massive horse-sized Airedale ~ quite unlovable. Oh well, too late now, I thought. The others allowed him into the car, but when we arrived home, Wellington told him in no uncertain terms, not to get out of the car, “this is our house and your family will be here to collect you soon”.
Alf was not very good at ‘coming’. I would call Alf! Alf! and eventually Alan (Al), my husband would come. This went on for several days until Alan declared “Someone is going to change their name and it’s not me!”
So it was decided there would be a slow transition from Alf to Alfred to Fred. But Alf LOVED Fred for a name. Maybe that was originally his name as he came from the RSPCA and they gave few details. He is the best dog at ‘coming’ we have ever had and I like to show him off at the dog park by calling him from the far side of the park. He comes bounding to me at top speed, impressing everyone with his obedience.
Initially Fred was quite skinny and ate everything including newspapers and clothes. Now he eats mainly food, the odd tissue but certainly not clothes.
He wouldn’t come for cuddles. If he did, something would trigger in his brain and he would say “can’t stay – there’s a possum outside”. It took 18 months before he would stay for a cuddle (as though he was saying “I used to have a family that cuddled me, but cuddles don’t last”). Now he comes up and demands a cuddle.
He was quite a nervous dog. If he barked he shook all over. We used to laugh and say “Fred’s even scared of his own bark”. Then we realised that Fred had almost certainly been punished in some horrible way every time he barked. Unfortunately, he’s no longer frightened of his own bark and it’s the loudest I have ever heard.
We figured that Fred, as a puppy, had a wonderful home with kids to play with and perhaps teenage boys. He is very good with small children and loves a rough and tumble with a fellow who works near the park. He is obsessed with balls. Perhaps that family went overseas and left him with another family. When he came to us in 2007, he was skinny and nervous. But he’s accepted us as his family although we are a bit old and he would rather live in a family of boys. He gets on really well with Wellington and Ozzie (who four years later is still around). As he has matured, he has become a stately and handsome dog, with a lovely and loving personality. And we have even found a taller Airedale at the dog park – Banff from Canada.
I must say one thing about all dogs, not just Fred. Boy, they can put on an act. When Fred was looking for a home, he was described as ‘ … a darling. Responsive, gentle, friendly (dogs and people), happy natured, walks nicely on lead, sits and drops and comes when called, has nice manners with food, gives up his ball readily, etc etc’.
Fred has no idea of walking on a lead which is why we go to the fenced dog park, has no manners with food and had to be locked in the laundry to eat when we first got him although he has improved, and NEVER gives up his ball!
What a dog will do to find a home!!
Pawnote: some months after we adopted Alf/Fred, his origins were discovered and his breeder, Sue Henderson of Kingaire Airedales, was delighted to know of his safe and happy adoption.