EVERY dog has its day and the new year means it’s Alfie's turn to bound into the spotlight.
Beating the rest of the pack, the three-year-old Newfoundland has been named the nation’s dog of the year.
Neglected by his former owners, he was locked in a pen and went prematurely grey because of his ordeal.
But his life was turned around after being rescued and rehomed with Julia Marsh-Pitt. She credits Alfie with helping her daily battle with a debilitating condition.
Currently awaiting brain surgery, Julia, of Lombard Drive, Chester-le-Street, County Durham, has suffered cluster headaches for the last 16 years.
The attacks can strike at anytime and on some days mean she is unable to leave her home.
The 48-year-old has been told they may be caused by having an over-active hypothalamus.
She said: “I get chronic headaches that can be many times worse than a migraine. They are known as suicide headaches because some people have taken their lives because of them.
“I have a heart condition so I’m unable to take medication for the pain. Some days I’m pleased just to make it downstairs and others I cannot get out of bed.
“But having Alfie here helps me. It helps motivate me knowing I have to look after him.”
In November, Alfie was selected as the region’s RSPCA rescue dog of the year before bagging the national title.
Julia, who recently had steroid injections to try to curb her constant headaches, said: “I was shocked but over the moon when I found out Alfie had won.
“It is something positive to concentrate on. All I’ve had is bad news for weeks and this is something to really lift me. Everything about Alfie has been positive.
“Each day he makes me laugh and I think he knows he is special. He loves being the centre of attention.”
Alfie’s prizes include pet insurance, a pet portrait and an engraved glass trophy.
But his presentation at the district’s Felledge Cattery tomorrow could be a fur-raising experience as Alfie is frightened of cats.
John Rolls, from the RSPCA, said: “This gentle giant is a fabulous example of the loving, caring companions rescue dogs can make.”
Newfoundland Alfie named RSPCA dog of the year - ChronicleLive