Dorsetdog - The story of Alfie pup cavalier's rescue

Went for a walk with a friend and her dog one Christmas. Dylan the 11 year old Cavalier. Nicer face than the King Charles Spaniel, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s got a short snout, not something that looks like it’s run into a wall. Always look like they’re laughing. Happy.

Followed the dog to the river’s edge, as you do. Problem was, the grass I stood on was floating on water, so I fell in

This is Dylan the wonderdog. The inspiration that lead to my getting Alfie :)

What was I thinking, a dog, in this flat, I must be mad? Up and down those stairs, all day and night. Having a dog is a silly idea and not for me, well not here anyways.

Isn’t the internet a marvel, it’s amazing what you can find on there. They’ve got a whole site on Cavaliers. Anyway, I registered with the Cavalier welfare service. Maybe I’ll be lucky. Maybe I’ll rescue a young six year old.

She said “Well actually - there’s a puppy in Surrey the owner’s keen to pass on.” A puppy, is this wise - One wise old dog had already tricked me into the water, what would a cute little puppy have me do?

So I rang the lady and was told “If you want it then you have to come today.” Now it was raining, no, not raining, it was torrentially pouring. The roads were flooded, the drains were blocked and only a fool would go out. “Can I come tomorrow?” I asked, “dogs, water and myself don’t actually mix that well”. “Sorry” she said, “this dog will be with the RSPCA by tonight”. So I drove, over a hundred miles, on flooded lanes and motorways. I kept asking myself, “Is this wise?”

Typically, it stops raining just as I arrive. A cardboard box is on the conservatory floor. A tiny bundle is snuggled inside. “Dillon” they call and out he comes, straight to me. The tail moves with each and every step. To be honest, it never actually stops waging. She says “He’s got a cough, and we don’t want ours catching something from him.” Another Cavalier is sat at the front of the house, banned from going anywhere near him.

A cough, easily cured I’m sure? “We’ve been to the vets twice and he’s had jabs and tabs.”

Jabs and tabs? “Well yes, he’s constantly scratching, and was sick and coughing all the way from Wales, oh and diarrhoea too.”

How long had they had him – “we wanted a second Cavalier, found this on the Internet, and brought him from Wales - yesterday.” A marvel that internet!

The buyer said that the pup they saw on the Internet was a clean, happy looking little pup. According to the buyer, they were shown in to a room on arrival, but not the room where the pups and mother were, and asked to wait. Apparently, the seller carried the small pup in to the room, and it was covered in excrement and soaked in urine. Is it a sales trick I ask myself, or just bad husbandry?

They put his collar and lead on for the first time ever. Wouldn’t follow or walk, just wanted to sit or run. Stuck his box on the front seat, stuck him in too. Can’t call him Dillon, too much like wise old Dylan. Dillon was looking about, nosing about, what’s it all about? What about Alfie? Alfie it is. What’s it all about Alfie?

Bag of food, Mickey Mouse towel for a bed and his ted, the dogs entire three months on this planet in an M & S wine box. We set off for Dorset, just drizzle and darkness. Not a whiner my dog, my dog – I got a dog, Alfie “My puppy dog.”

Heard him move twice the entire trip. Tesco’s for emergency dog supplies and finally home, we’re home, late at night.

Stubborn, I’ll tell you, he’s worse than a woman. Sat him on his new blanket and said “Lay down.” Would he lay, would he not. Sat there looking at me, refusing to lay. Head was drooping, and shooting back up. Determined to stay up. So tired that his chin was dropping right to the blanket, and quickly, coming back up. So so funny – so tired that twice, he fell and rolled right over and off the end of the blank, as he fought, to stay up.

We went vets so many times my dog and I those first twelve months. I should’ve brought shares in Benylin and antibiotics. I found that he’ll eat any tablet, so long as it’s got peanut butter on it. It wasn’t a cough, he had kennel cough, and a chest infection and glands and intestines issues and – oh it’s endless. We didn’t think he would make four months, let alone a year. I should have twigged, you know, the urgency for him to be out, to be gone, away from her own.

Would he eat, oh I wish he would. Every three days if I’m lucky. So small, so so small. Thirteen weeks and he’s shorter than my forearm and weighs two and a quarter Kg’s. Stubborn, but oh so adorable. Quarter the size but wiser than old Uncle Dylan. This tiny one had me laid on the cold kitchen floor. Anything to encourage him to eat.

So stupid, so so stupid was I. It ends up, he won’t eat unless I’m on the floor, and he’s sat on my arm. We stopped that, had too.

My Alfie pup

He melts hearts you know, gruff teenager’s faces soften at his appearance, kids run to him, people stroke him. A wonderful healer, a miracle worker my little dog. Done me the world of good.

Sometimes, he’ll drag his legs when he runs. The episodic falling started shortly after his first inoculations. People in the know, they say theirs started at the same time, but swear its not connected to the jabs.

The vet says his nerves are too close to the skin, causes his legs to twitch and shake. The Practice owner has worked all over the world, and seen Cavaliers in all sorts of conditions. I never knew that they exported Cavaliers from Wales to as far as Hong Kong.

Got a thing for women’s and children’s voices. High pitches make his tail wag even more. I used to take him down on to the cricket pitch every day. Problem is, the nursery group uses the pavilion and he’ll bolt in there when its full of children, runs in to say hello. He even watches kids walk down the road. Can’t do that in these PC times, not with a single man, alone. “Alfie, leave.”

Vet gave him a jab, something developed in American jails. Chemical version of the man operation. Its instant, bang, he eats two meals a day, every day for three weeks, then, slowly, reverts to once every three days. We give him a second jab, same again. Finally, he’s old enough for the chop. Now he eats OK. Now, the vet, she says he’s fat, but she’s skinny so what would she know. I didn’t realise, the wolf doesn’t eat 7 days a week, and dogs don’t need to either.

He sees things, you know, people - people who aren’t there. It’s the new village. It’s built on an old hospital. Twelve hundred psychiatric hospital beds, then, boom, a village of twelve hundred people. He watches things walk along roads, roads where nothing is moving, not even a leaf, watches things go through walls.

Not an angel my dog, has his moments. Barclaycard statement shredded and glued to the bathroom door. Carpet runner teased bare, and re-cut a meter from the end. But he’s never touched my furniture, shoes or mobile. “Alfie leave” and he usually does. Shame the same doesn’t apply to rabbit droppings. Came with a bag of brown pellets from the Welsh kennels. Problem is, brown pellets look just like, rabbit poo. He’s pesky like that.

Sleeps a lot, and snores too. He never nips, never bites. Never begs for food, not allowed to do that. Not a barker my dog, but woofs in his sleep, whilst laying there, dreaming, of chasing something. Only barks when friends take him to the shop, “Take me home”, he demands “Take me home now.”

He’ll never win any Crufts award, wrong markings for a pedigree show. That’s why he was pushed to one side by the kennel, wrong colour on top. They like them black on top, white underneath and symmetrically brown where it should be brown, not mixed like Alfie. Mind you, just walking past the ring would win him the waggiest tail. The tip goes right round to the sides and never stops, even when he’s unwell.

Always treated him right for a good life. Sleeps in the kitchen, warmest part of the house, bed right next to the heater, ideal for those cold windy nights. Never whines when I’m out, never calls out. Not right to hear them whine. Loves to play, loves his ragging toys, and growls when we play tease or tug the raggie.

Still a bit stubborn, just a bit, but oh so adorable and loving. Loving and affectionate like you can’t imagine. If I make coffee in the morning and go back to bed, he’ll lay at my door and stretch himself out. Then, he’ll claw the carpet and snort until I attend. He likes to snort, and to sigh, it’s his way to get my attention, or display his displeasure, he’s pesky like that. Occasionally, whether we’re out or I’m stood in the house, he’ll just come and, softly, nudge my leg with his nose, as if to say “I’m here dad.” Always asking for attention, from anyone who’s near. And he’s still nosey, runs through anyone’s open front door, just to see. He’s pesky like that

But importantly, he’s better now. He’s just turned two. Makes him a teenager, you know, dog years. He’s eight Kg’s now. Still suffers from things, his bad undernourished start haunts him so. Probably always will.

His legs still drag when he’s running, and twitch when he’s sniffing at things, but his tail never stops waging when its happening. The slightest thing can affect his tum and make him go. They think it’s the bad start, and all the medication, that stopped his intestines from developing properly, but I wouldn’t know. All I know is that he loves me so.

He’s laid here now, across my lap, head buried under my arm, snoozing, his breath rhythmically blowing across my bare arm, whilst I sit here typing this.

My Alfie, my pesky puppy dog

The above was written in 2009 for a course that I was on. Alfie was born on 10th October 2006, and I got him on 8th January 2007. I've now owned Alfie for over 6 years, this update being written in 2013.

I've learnt a lot about Cavaliers, dog health and welfare, and the puppy farm trade over these 6 years. Having taken on Lexie in 2011, I have been able to compare her health to Alfie's health as a pup. I now realise that what Alfie had was Parvo symptoms, as well as the kennel cough, etc, etc.

I also realise now that the regular morning events whilst he was a puppy of my having to clear up vomit or green diarrhoea is not the norm. As a pup, my Lexie seems so healthy in comparison to Alfie. We have hardly been to the vets, and any visit has been routine for vaccination or when she was spayed.

The Animal Health Trust have developed a DNA test for the medical condition Episodic Falling (EF). So I had both dogs tested. The DNA swabs were taken by my vet to ensure that they were collected correctly. The results are that whilst Lexie is totally clear of EF, Alfie is "Affected" by the EF DNA. Affected means that both strands of the DNA have EF, and if he was to reproduce then he would pass on EF.

So I wrote to the breeders, Mr and Mrs Davies at Goitre Kennels, Teliaris, Llandeilo, Wales and advised them of the DNA test. I simply asked that Goitre Kennels screen their dogs for Episodic Falling so that the condition can be eradicated I copied the letter to The Kennel Club, as Goitre Kennels is a registered breeder. One of the reasons that I wrote to Goitre Kennels is due to Mr Davies appearing in an ITV Wales program "Wales this week" where he was portrayed as a caring breeder in ITV Wales' program about dog dealers.

I have had no response from Goitre Kennel or The Kennel Club, even though both letters were signed for on delivery by them both.

Click this line to read my letter to Peter Davies at Goitre Kennels, Teliaris.

Sadly, Alfie is no longer with us.

In 2016, Alfie had the new Versican 4 Lepto vaccine by Zoetis. This vaccine covers 4 strains, one of which is not found in the UK. Incidental to note that DEFRA are aware of 14 different strains of Lepto being officially recorded in the UK as of 2020.

A few days after Alfie had the vaccine, he followed me up the stairs, stood looking confused and then collapsed. He had a blue tongue and gums, so I rushed him to the vets. Three different vets at the practice all dismissed the cause as being a reaction to the vaccine, even though his heart had gone from a grade 3 of 5 murmur of many years to a grade 6/6. Vets insisted that it was not the vaccine, and that it was just a coincidence, and strongly recommended the second injection 4 weeks after the first jab.

I made the mistake of letting Alfie have the second injection. Alfie just filled with fluids and struggled to breath. I was told by the vets to wait for the diuretics to work, but he was getting worse.

Within 5 days of the second vaccination, and despite numerous visits to the vets and diuretics, Alfie died on my bed next to Lexie in March 2016.

Zoetis agreed to pay for an independent autopsy.

I took Alfie to the Royal Veterinary College at Hatfield. The receptionists weren't really interested in taking any information on the case, and I was told to wait for the lab technician outside by a door directly to the lab. A young chap came out with a trolley, and I tried to talk to him about the case, and that as Alfie had the condition of Episodic Falling, then samples of tissue were to be put in the tube of RDNA later that I had and sent to Animal Health Trust. The young chap was solely interested in taking the corpse and getting back inside.

The autopsy was conducted by the head pathologist, who concluded that as Alfie as a cavalier, than death by heart failure should be expected.

Talk about a cover up

I shall never forgive myself for letting my beautiful boy have this dreadful vaccine.