Alfie and the Golden Opportunity
Alfie’s start in life was sadly typical of many Greek hunting dogs. In 2014, once the hunting season was over, he was found tied up one morning outside the shelter in Lemnos. He was about a year old a setter/retriever cross and resembled a bag of bones.
So that morning he was taken in, along with another white setter called Irina, by Fotini and the handful of volunteers who bravely run the Lemons shelter – the home to over 80 dogs of all ages and sizes. There were setters, spaniels, retrievers, pointers, Labrador look-a-likes and lots of cute fluffy mixes. They all had one thing in common – they were gorgeous – but stuck in a remote shelter, miles from anywhere, so no-one knew about them!
For two years Alfie would watch some of the cute fluffy puppies get adopted, but along with all the other big breeds he was destined to be another long term resident. Fotini decided these big boys needed a bit of much needed PR to show what gorgeous guys they all were, so with a group of friends planned the shelter’s very first dog walk and that’s when we first met Alfie.
Alfie was just one of those dogs you can’t ever forget; kind and respectful of all his shelter mates, not always the centre of attention but always where the attention was! Several visits later we asked Fotini if Starlight Barking could try and find him a home in England.
Within 15 minutes of his photo appearing on Facebook he’d been offered a home and within days he had homes to choose from all over the UK.
Fate then played an amazing hand and led Alfie and Starlight Barking to Tony Golden and family in Manchester. Tony and his wife Tania run Manchester Dog Care, a model doggie day care where dog owners can leave their well-mannered dogs to run free and have the time of their lives.
Tony’s family had always had retrievers and had been looking to offer a rescue retriever a home. Tony saw Alfie’s picture on Facebook and contacted Starlight Barking in August 2016 and by November 2016 lucky Alfie was on his way to England. We loved everything about Tony and his family and knew Alfie had fallen on his feet big time. But we had no idea, at that time, what Alfie’s Golden Opportunity would mean for rescue dogs everywhere.
Alfie quickly got the idea. He was now Alfie Golden, owner of Tony, Tania, Deven and Tyler Golden and he lived on a glorious farm, slept on sofas and got great food, praise and cuddles by the bucket load. He knew he had the lovely Fotini to thank for this change in status to top dog and he remembered how much she’d cried and how hard it had been for her to let him go.
Alfie wanted to find a way to thank Fotini. Since the Lemnos Shelters Dog Walk, he had learnt a lot about marketing. He decided he would greet all the day care owners and guest dogs at Manchester Dog Care in his own special Alfie way and show the world that rescue dogs are special dogs. And maybe, just maybe, some of Fotini’s other shelter dogs would get lucky.
Then one day early in January Alfie’s dream came true. Tony took Alfie aside and said he had an enormous surprise for him. He showed him a video – it was called The White Princess and as it played he saw it was Irina, his old shelter mate, and there was Fotini and the same Starlight Barking people, who had brought him to England.
Tony then explained to Alfie his big idea. Irina would come to Manchester and have a little holiday with Alfie and they were going to invite some other rescue dogs too. Once Tony and his team had settled them in on the farm they would then be able to go every day with Alfie to Central Bark, Tony’s new beach themed Doggie Café. Lots of kind people, who had been saying lots of lovely things about Alfie, would come to relax and get to know these gorgeous shelter dogs better. And if they wore little bandanas saying, Adopt Me, maybe some kind human would take the hint and they would all be as lucky as Alfie.
Alfie thought this was an amazing idea and did several mad pup laps of the garden then flung himself at Tony to give lots of kisses. Then suddenly he stopped in his tracks and howled. An image from years ago of the first man who had hunted with him, then beat him and dumped him at the shelter came into mind. Not all humans were like Tony and Fotini.
Tony and Alfie had quickly formed that incredible telepathic bond that non-dog lovers just don’t get. And when you’re a rescue dog, who has fallen on your paws, that bond is even stronger. Alfie by now was giving all the theatricals he could muster and was now lying glued to the floor with his paws over his eyes. Tony laughed and reached over for his iPad.
“Look Alf, S-T-A-R-L-I-G-H-T – B-A-R-K-I-N-G, here’s the Starlight Barking website. Don’t worry they check everyone out properly. If someone wants to adopt, they will want to know every tiny detail of the family so your shelter friends will be safe and they send someone to check it all. And anyway the kind of people who are coming to Central Bark are the good dog guys. You don’t have to worry fellah. Soon we’ll be finding great homes for more of your friends.”
Alfie gave one enormous sigh of relief, laid his head in Tony’s lap, looked into his eyes and gave that, thank you so much for loving me and giving me a chance, look that only a rescue dog can. Alfie was a smart dog, he knew that it would be good humans, like Tony and Fotini and all their friends, who could finally make a difference.
On behalf of all rescue dogs, thank you Tony, Tania, Deven and Tyler for creating this amazing opportunity. We can’t wait to see more of these Doggie Cafes helping shelters everywhere.
Daisy and the Starlight Barking Team x
PS from Daisy: You don’t have to run a marathon or a Doggie Café like Tony, or have loads of money to donate. There are hundreds of ways you can help, absolutely everyone has something to offer which will collectively make a difference. Please check out our website volunteer page and see how you, your family, friends, office and school can get involved.
Thank you for considering helping the millions of rescue paws worldwide. Daisy xxx
TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!