Rosalie Horton, 39, Leura, NSW
'It's going to be upsetting,' my colleague Ian warned me. 'Bring some tissues.' He'd just rescued a 10-year-old Maltese dog from a house after an anonymous tip-off. We work together at Animal Welfare League Australia in Sydney, where I'm an animal behaviourist. We've seen our fair share of distressed pups, but this pooch was in a dreadful state.
Incredibly thin and miserable, his fur was so heavily matted he hardly looked like a dog. Thick knots covered his face and he barely moved when I got close. I knew the tangles must have been pulling at his skin, causing constant pain. Naming him Alfie, we gave him a general anaesthetic and got to work giving him a makeover. Taking out his rotten teeth, which caused infections deep in his jaw, we also cleaned out his grubby ears. Carefully cutting and brushing his fur, he soon looked like a new dog!
'There you are!' I said, looking into his big soulful eyes. Sadly, after Alfie's haircut we realised that he was blind. As he grew stronger, an adorable, happy little dog began to emerge and he went to live with his foster mum, Sarah. With love and attention, Alfie came along in leaps and bounds! He became a friendly and trusting pooch who loved to be brushed and held. He also loved making friends with other dogs, and being able to see shadows, meant he could navigate his way.
Despite being an elderly gent, he was like an excitable pup, although he preferred to be carried rather than to walk. As Alfie was recovering, we were able to match him with a fantastic new owner, Sandra. She adores Alfie and has time to pamper him all day - which is just what he deserves!
We are grateful we could rehome him, which only happens thanks to donations. But I still need tissues when I visit him. It's hard not to well up when I see how happy he is. Alfie has been given a second chance at life!
Originally published in that's life! Issue 6, 2016, cover date 11th Feb 2016.