Alfie and Cooper's story

Alfie, aged six, was terrified of dogs - until he met a gentle giant named Cooper.

Cooper, a two-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever, began life as a guide dog puppy but was withdrawn from training when he was diagnosed with elbow dysplasia.

This led to a change of career for Cooper, who is now a buddy dog and Alfie's best friend, thanks to the support from the players of People's Postcode Lottery.


A positive impact on both Alfie and the whole family

Alfie's parents, Tamara and James, said Cooper arrived at their home in Bassaleg and fitted in with the family straight away. 

"He has made a massive difference to Alfie and everyone at school has noticed", said Tamara. "Alfie is calmer, whereas he used to bounce constantly on his feet when he talked. It's had a real impact on the whole family."

Alfie has a brilliant personality, a great sense of humour and brings joy to a room wherever he goes. He has a sight condition called Seto-Optic Nerve Hypoplasia and would be fearful if things moved too fast, vibrated or were a bit jumpy.  

"We needed Alfie to calm down", said Tamara, "and that happened when we started going for walks with Cooper, who is a gentle giant and big enough for Alfie to track with his right eye. Alfie has got into a routine and even goes to sleep earlier, which makes it better for him to learn at school the next day.

"Alfie gets involved in feeding and grooming Cooper and even sets his alarm for 6.30 am daily when we take him to the park."

Cooper loves going in the river and playing with balls. He goes to work with Tamara and has even visited James's work colleagues and Alfie's school. 

When I see how Cooper has changed our family, I know being a buddy dog was his true purpose.
Tamara, Alfie's mum

Being a buddy dog was Cooper's true purpose 

When the family heard about the buddy dog scheme they applied immediately. They said, "We found the training and information days very helpful. We were given plenty of support to decide if it was right for us, but we didn't hesitate.

"Cooper has a real personality and would have made a fantastic guide dog. But he also loves snuggling up and falling asleep and is definitely a family dog. When I see how he has changed our family, I know being a buddy dog was his true purpose."

Kerry Bevan, head of Guide Dogs Cymru, said: "Alfie and Cooper are a great example of the positive effect that buddy dogs can have on the wellbeing of a sight-impaired child, helping to develop their self-confidence, improve relationships and build a greater sense of fun and trust in themselves and others.

"And it's thanks to the players of People's Postcode Lottery, whose funding is supporting up to 150 children like Alfie this year and into 2022."

Alfie and Cooper are a great example of the positive effect that buddy dogs can have on the well-being of a sight-impaired child, helping to develop their self-confidence, improve relationships and build a greater sense of fun and trust in themselves and others.
Kerry Bevan, head of Guide Dogs Cymru