ALF was diagnosed with cancer on September 18, 2015
ALF's life ended one month later on October 18, 2015
In tribute to our unique furry friend that enjoyed life to the fullest and loved meeting people. Alf was a one in a million mixed breed. No one had ever seen or met another dog like Alf ... and, he had met many people in many different places. Alf was unique in both appearance and personality. His unique blend of breeds produced an impeccable dog. Mixing two such breeds will never replicate his appearance and personality again. Alf was truly ... One of a Kind.
Image and effects by Mark D McKinley
ALF (Alien Life Form) a.k.a. Alfie -- a fifty pound Chow Chow/Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier mix with a dash of Ewok in there for good measure. More on the Ewok DNA later. Alf was a six year old shelter rescue dog. He qualified for adoption in June 2012 and the fluffy thick coated dog now known as Alf was featured one morning on a local news broadcast. One of my wife's friends saw the feature story and immediately called my wife, "I have found the dog for you! ... "You have got to go see this dog on your lunch break!" My wife asked Jeanne if she thought I should meet them there, too. Jeanne replied, "Absolutely, I'll meet you both there" ... "This is the dog you've waited nine years for," ... "This, is your dog!"
The three of us arrived in separate cars from different parts of town. On arrival we told the shelter staff that we were there to see Alf (known at that time by another name). Moments later a woman walked the dog into a private greeting area to meet us. Alf had the thickest coat of hair I'd ever seen on a dog. He calmly walked in and looked at each of us. After a casual lap around the small room he walked over to me and sat down. He stared at me with a silly grin and a wagging tail. During our informal get to know one another session, the dog paid very little attention to my wife - something she found extremely disheartening. He'd walk over to her when summoned then walk back across the room and stare at me wearing his silly grin. Slightly disappointed by his apparent lack of concern for her, my wife arrived at the conclusion that Alf (known at that time by another name) knew she was easy to win and that I was the person he needed to win over - mission accomplished.
Throughout our meet and greet session I watched for red flags that might indicate hidden issues. From the onset his demeanor expressed everything I wanted to know. For all practical purposes he seemed to be the most well-adjusted rascal I'd ever met. His appearance was unique - so much hair - not all that long, however, it was such a thick coat of hair. His mannerisms suggested that he'd have been happy to go home with us if we wanted him. If we didn't want him, that was fine too. He was confident someone would want him - he was content - he wasn't worried - his stay at the shelter would be brief - he knew that!
After our initial meet and greet my wife and I talked to the staff and placed a deposit on Alf (the dog formerly known by another name). We filled out the necessary paper work and said we'd make a final decision in four-five hours. My wife and I discussed the dog while walking to our cars before she returned to work. We agreed to mull our circumstances for a couple of hours and then make our decision when she got off work.
I spent my afternoon off work shopping for pet essentials since we had been without a dog for nine years. We wanted to get another dog one day, yet this little guy arrived out of the blue - very short notice. I was certain of only one thing - if we were going to have another dog ...... this dog was the one. Four hours later we finalized paperwork, paid the fees, and brought Alf (the dog formerly known by another name) home.
There's an old saying about never really knowing someone until you live with them. That wisdom also applies to recently acquired four legged housemates. I had bought a large steel framed canvas crate with screen windows on three sides and a zippered screened door for Alf to stay in for a few days whenever we left the house. I needed to leave the house to run a few errands on day two. I was gone for about two hours. Alf was sitting anxiously in his large canvas crate when I left. I assured our new housemate that I would return. Alf greeted me at the top of the stairs wagging his tail and swaying his head back and forth when I returned two hours later. Yep, he was happy that I had come back. Obviously, after I left he decided to unzip the crate's screen door to gain full run of the house. I'm not sure how he did it. It doesn't matter. That was the first and only time Alf was ever put in his screened canvas crate.
Anytime we had to leave during his first week in our home, Alf wasn't bashful about sharing a mournful howl with our neighbors. His howl would slowly build momentum similar to that of a hand-cranked siren. Usually by the time the garage door had completely raised, his mournful moan was audible from outside. His auditions for a seat in the choir continued (off and on) for about two weeks. After a couple of weeks Alf accepted the notion that we had always come back. That's not to say Alf is thrilled when we leave without him - he enjoys social outings.
Alf is a surprisingly quite dog. He rarely barks and is an excellent watch dog. He only barks when someone comes to the door or if he hears an unfamiliar noise outdoors. Quite as he is, he does try to talk to us on occasion - supposedly, a Chow Chow trait. He's nearly the perfect gentleman and never gets into anything when he's left alone.
We had bought Alf several toys of various configurations, materials, textures, and sizes. He doesn't play with toys. We bought him a memory foam bed to sleep on ... Alf preferred sleeping on the floor beside it - lesson learned. Alf does enjoy consumables. Alf enjoys eating. While most people eat to live, Alf lives to eat. Did I mention how much Alf enjoys food products? His preferred toys to play with are dried pig ears, dried duck feet, and rawhide sticks. That's right, most any dog-safe consumable that he can also EAT, later.
"Meeting and greeting people is the purpose of my existence. Socializing is at the very pulse of who I am. Quite possibly the sole reason I was born. Well ... that, and consuming food groups." - quote (Sir Alfred Centuri, a.k.a. Alf)
Alf won first place for best costume in the PetSmart Halloween Contest in October 2012. Alf accompanied the Princess Leia to the event ... dressed as an Ewok. He's been on a river boat ride down the Kentucky River and has been to Highbridge Springs and Cumberland Falls. Alf has been photographed countless times by folks he's met on trips. Photos of Alf have been featured on several retail Facebook pages. He relishes being at the center of attention - where the action is.
Alf enjoys going to restaurants that have an outdoor patio. He loves the attention he receives from folks that are dining near him. It isn't unusual for people to stop in traffic long enough to ask what kind of dog he is - it's a continual process and one of the reasons Alf has his own website. He likely qualifies as a small time celebrity. He makes friends everywhere - through the neighborhood, at restaurants, retail stores, on the street, cruising on the river, even in other states.
My wife and I were eating dinner at Outback Steakhouse one afternoon when a woman walked over to our table and asked us, "How's Alf doing?" That right, she didn't ask about us ... she asked about Alf! We laughed and told her Alf was at home and doing fine. It should be obvious to anyone by now that Alf loves people. Without hesitation I believe Alf would walk five miles to meet another friend.
The mailman and Alf are best pals. If Alf is inside when he hears the mail truck he stares at us like, "Hey, my buddy's out there!" ... "Why aren't we going outside RIGHT NOW and greet him!???" When Alf is outside during mail delivery the mailman will always stop and talk to Alf ... and, ruffle his hands through that thick coat. Alf loves every minute of it ... and, those doggies treats aren't too bad either!
We've joked several times amongst friends that everyone knows Alfie. The joke does have merit - case and point - my wife and I had a garage sale this summer - I had to work that day so my father-in-law and my wife's step-mother came over and helped with the sale. My father-in-law took Alf for a walk through the neighborhood that afternoon. When they returned, he told my wife, "You're right, everyone knows Alfie!" As they passed folks in the neighborhood, a couple of them responded, "I know Alfie, but I don't know you!" My wife's father laughed as he shared moments from their walk.
Coldstream Farm has a nineteen acre dog park that Alf loves to wander unleashed. With so much wide open acreage there ... he enjoys walking the perimeter near the fence.
Blogs and Images (c) 2015 Mark D Mckinley