“MY happiest memory of being with Alli is actually from quite a sad time for me,” says artist Angie Bradley, who lives in Macroom with her border terrier/shih tzu cross, Alli.
She is the latest pet owner to feature in My Pet and Me Series.
“It was the first anniversary of my dad’s passing so I went to the Dingle peninsula to spend some time there. Dad lived in England, but he loved Dingle. I was there at the end of the summer 2014 when I got the phone call from my sister Stephanie to say he had passed.
“So, I knew it was where I wanted to be again when his anniversary came around. My partner couldn’t join me, so it was just Alli and I.
“Well, it was really special. Alli was truly ‘with’ me, hard to describe it, but his unconditional love never meant more. Without him, I could never have made that trip, not a hope. Our bond grew even closer as we spent that time together.”
Alli came into Angie’s life nearly 12 years ago when she spotted an advert in SuperValu, Castletownbere, for puppies free to a good home.
“He comes from a farm beside the sea near Allihies, so he was named for that,” says Angie.
“I took him back there a couple of years ago, and it might have been my imagination, but I swear he knew exactly where he was, and he trotted up that boreen as if he knew the place well.”
Although Angie isn’t sure what exact date in July Alli was born, his birthday is celebrated on the 10th as “that was my Grandad’s birthday, and like Alli, in his early life, he was reared in West Cork with his mother’s people.”
One of the traits Angie loves about Alli is his ability to get on with other creatures big and small, including a baby robin who joined them during the first lockdown.
“He just turned up one day. He was very trusting and came inside the kitchen daily or we all hung out in the garden,” says Angie.
“Alli was sound out with him - really chilled.”
Alli is also good friends with the neighbourhood cat, Fluffy.
“They’ve known one another most of their lives and often enjoy sunbathing together. He’s grand generally around cats unless they make a run for it, then his instinct for chasing takes over.”
Despite being a slightly more seasoned dog, Alli still has his playful ways and likes to keep Angie on her toes.
“He can be such a puppy,” she says. “Like when he dances with me and copies my moves. Hilarious. Or the sock game, when I basically throw a sock across the room or down the stairs, and he tears off with it in his mouth,” says Angie.
“This is my cue to pretend chase him and play at getting it back from him, him doing his part by dropping it and half guarding it until he lets me get it so I can throw it again. There are some variations, but that’s the gist of it.”
Apart from dancing with Angie and playing the sock game, Alli loves nothing more than going for a spin. “He loves being in the car in general. It’s his den which he lets me use to take him places,” says Angie.
“When he’s in the car on the front passenger’s lap - either with my mum, Margaret/Maighread, or my partner Nathan, he loves to look out the windscreen when there’s a fast straight road ahead. I often wonder if it’s like virtual running for him, a dog’s video game!”
If, however, Angie is forced to leave Alli at home for whatever reason, Alli is quick to let her know exactly how he feels.
“He’s disgusted at first, but then after a while he acts cool about it. He hops up onto his rug on the sofa and settles himself, looking at me as if to say, ‘I thought you were going’.
Once Alli’s out of the car, he loves nothing more than a good long walk, or run. “Especially if there’s a big space to go tearing off, like a beach or the local golf club when it’s quiet, and he’ll just fly. You’d find it hard to believe such little legs could do it, and the ears blown back - pure glee!”
Angie is forever grateful for the immeasurable good that Alli brings to her life.
“He’s so companionable, and he just brings smiles to people’s faces wherever he goes,” she says.
“Pets have always been a comfort, especially in the darker times. I wonder how many times they have made a crucial difference for people… how many lives have been made happier or even saved because of the love of an animal. They’re amazing.”