By Hannah Phillips
An agoraphobic sausage dog who spent the first year of his life too terrified to leave the house now has the courage to step outside – thanks to his new best friend.
Dachshund Alf, one, had to be given up by his owners due to his unusual phobia, which made him so nervous he refused to leave the house and barked at strangers.
But after he was rehomed with new owner Barry Groves, 60, he was introduced to Barry’s other sausage dog, three year-old Gus, and the two pooches instantly struck up an unbreakable bond.
Now, with pal Gus by his side, Alf is brave enough to play in the garden, walk along the road with confidence and explore the fields by his house on his own.
Retired Barry, from Leeds, said: “Before, Alf was so nervous, especially around traffic. Having another dog walking alongside him has made him more confident, and he will now happily cross roads and walk on pavements.
“When the traffic is really heavy, he still gets a bit nervous but is less panicked knowing that Gus is with him.
“We see him becoming more confident and going off and exploring on his own, but always making sure he knows where Gus is.
“Gus has a new friend and it is obvious that life is better when you have a friend to play with.
“When Alf was brought round for his first visit, him and Gus got on straight away and shot off into the garden.
“They’re always playing together – like typical males they have the odd disagreement but nothing too serious.
“Gus has a friend now too – dogs work better when they’re together, especially small dogs.”
Alf’s previous owners were forced to park their car as close to the doorway as possible if they wanted to get the terrified pup out of the house, so in July, they handed him over to Barry.
Barry, a self-confessed ‘Labrador man’, and partner Karen, 60, who is retired, now say they wouldn’t be without the pair.
Barry said: “Alf’s settled in really well. He was so nervous at first – his previous owners couldn’t even take him for a walk without putting him in the car, so they knew he was better off with another dog.
“We live in the countryside so he’s a lot more comfortable.
“When the traffic is really heavy he still gets nervous sometimes, but those things take time.
“We’re completely sold on them. Dachshunds are great dogs. I’m a Labrador man but I wouldn’t be without them.
“Alf was called Alfonso when he came to us but we had to rename him because I’m 6ft 4ins and there’s no way I was going to walk across a field shouting ‘Alfonso’.”
Sam Compton, from the Red Foundation, a charity dedicated to rescuing Dachshunds, helped to rehome Alf.
She said: “I’ve never seen a dog with agoraphobia before.
“Alfonso was in a lovely home but he was really anxious, the home was in a built up area and he was too nervous to go out.
“The couple started borrowing a friend’s dog as a friend for him and found he was way more confident and comfortable going out with company, but they weren’t in a position to buy a new dog.
“They put his needs first and helped him find his perfect home.
“A lot of people don’t know what kind of dog they’re buying, they just think dachshunds are little and cute – but they are also quite stubborn and they’re hounds so they have a high prey drive.
“It causes a massive problem.
“More Dachshunds are requiring homes now, and we rescue them from all sorts of situations.
“We have rehomed over 120 this year and a huge number of these are down to the home not being right for the breed so research is key”