Long time fan Lisa Tootill has really found the best way to combine work with Alfie and Michael. Lisa, who has been following Michael since Aspects of Love and first saw Alfie perform on his 2012 Storyteller tour, works at the Guide Dog Breeding Centre near Birmingham and is responsible for bringing new dogs into the centre to enhance the gene pool for future breeding. Recently, Lisa found two Curly Coated Retrievers in Estonia (they’re a rare breed), and upon bringing them back to the UK, managed to christen them Alfie and Michael!
Alfie is on the left and Michael the right.
Although the traditional image of a guide dog is a Labrador, there are in fact, many breeds used, including Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Flat Coated Retrievers as well as the Curly Coated Retriever. There is even a Standard Poodle and Border Collie in the breeding programme. One of the most famous guide dog owners is David Blunkett who always uses Curly Coated / Labrador crosses, as they are good, solid, working dogs.
Each year, Guide Dogs UK breeds puppies to go on and eventually train and work with visually impaired people around the UK. The usual practice when naming litters is that all the names should start with the same letter, for tracing purposes but Lisa was adamant that with these two sweethearts, the rules should go out the window and Alfie and Michael were thus named. In fairness, Lisa says that the theme for name picking was ‘my favourite things’ and Alfie and Michael are two of her favourite people, as all the staff at the breeding centre are well aware! Here is Lisa with Alfie:
Thanks Lisa for sharing your story of marrying work with Alfie and Michael. To find out more about Guide Dogs UK click here.
If you would like to share your fan story, I’d be delighted to hear from you, just click here to send me a message.
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I really love what Lisa has done. As an avid dog lover I follow and support the work of the guide and support care dogs. Hopefully I will be able to do more in my home area as my retirement progresses.
Thanks Barbara. And thank you for your support of Guide Dogs from me.
Love that story and that breed, thanks for sharing x
They’re one of my favourite ‘work’ breeds too! Hardly anyone knows what they are which always surprises me.
What an amazing job Lisa has and so vitally important. I was so happy to see they also have a poodle in the programme too. They are my love I have a bkack miniature that Michael has actually read out an email to for me on his radio show. Poodles are so intelligent and were used for hunting too in Germany were they originate from…keep up the amazing work you are a God send.
Thanks Karen, it’s a pretty cool job to have. I’m very lucky.
I also have a poodle (black) although he’s a standard and absolutely bonkers.