By Kim Reader
This pampered therapy pug loves nothing more than coming home from a long day working with poorly kids, putting on his pyjamas and climbing into his bunk bed – at 8pm on the dot.
Aflie, a three and a half year old pug, comes home from a day looking after kids at Manchester Children’s Hospital to a nice bath run by his owner Suzy Emsden, 44.
Suzy, a doctor in children’s intensive care transport, then helps Alfie into one of his dressing gowns to dry off before she gets him into his pyjamas – of which he has around ten sets.
And then at exactly 8pm, and absolutely no later, Alfie saunters off and climbs into his bunk bed to get some well-earned shut eye.
The pooch’s lavish lifestyle – for which he has gained a 95,000-strong social media following – also includes being allowed to roll in mud whenever he wants, playing fancy dress and enjoying an organic diet.
While Alfie is a bit of a ‘princess’, according to mum-of-one Suzy, the pug deserves all the fuss in the world as he does such good work at the hospital.
Suzy from Whitegate, Cheshire, said: “Alfie goes to the hospital about once every ten days and afterwards he is exhausted. He usually sleeps all the way home in the car.
“Then we go for a walk and he’s allowed to roll in as much mud as he wants to as treat.
“When we get home he’ll have a bath and then I put him in one of his dressing gowns. He’s got a few and he loves them so much he actually puts his arms through the sleeves himself.
“Alfie has so many sets of pyjamas. He’s got a few from Alder Hey, his duck ones and his Toy Story ones. After he’s dried off I put him in his pyjamas and he takes himself off to his bunk bed.
“He always goes to bed at eight o’clock. It doesn’t matter where we are in the world, Alfie’s bedtime is eight on the dot.
“His pyjamas don’t just make the children at hospital happy they also serve a practical purpose.
“Alfie wears a little cooling vest underneath them as pugs are prone to overheating, so they’re cute and practical.
“He is definitely very pampered and some have said spoilt. He only eats organic food and all his treats are vegetables or watermelon. He absolutely loves watermelon.
“I tell people all the time what a princess he is and he’s even a bit of a celebrity now on social media. I just started posting photos of him in his outfits and suddenly he had 95,000 followers.
“He does live quite the life of luxury. I’ve never been one for dressing up dogs or any of that but Alfie deserves every bit of it.
“He is a 25 out of 10 good boy and he brings so much joy and love to the children at hospital. He is the cutest pug in the world.
“He’s amazing and I want to do everything to make sure he is as happy and healthy as he can be, I’m determined he’s going to live forever.”
Suzy bought Alfie in 2014 when he was just eight weeks old for her pug-obsessed daughter Lucy Emsden, 17.
When she realised what a calm and loving nature Alfie had, Suzy decided to start training him to be a therapy dog and the pooch got his official certificate in June 2016.
Whenever her busy schedule allows it, Suzy takes Alfie to Manchester Children’s Hospital where he gets mobbed by doctors, nurses, patients and visitors from the moment they walk in.
Alfie sits on his own special towel in children’s beds giving them lots of snuggles and even goes in to sit with kids as they have scans and tests to keep them calm.
Suzy said: “Lucy has always been obsessed with pugs. She’d been nagging me for ages but I kept saying ‘no, they’re not real dogs’.
“But eventually I caved and we brought Alfie home. He was so tiny, he looked like a potato.
“From the moment we got him we realised how calm and loving he is so I decided to start training him as a therapy dog.
“A lot of the training is just about their nature so they’ve either got it or they don’t, but they also need to be good on public transport and crowded places.
“As a puppy we had taught Alfie how to high five but we had to teach him not to because therapy dogs aren’t allowed to put their paws on people in case they’ve got a drip or feeding tube in.
“Everyone at the hospital absolutely loves Alfie. We have to make sure we get there early because it takes us so long to get through the hallways with people stopping us.
“He has done some amazing work helping kids with phobias but most the time he is just there for cuddles, to play and to take their minds off what they have been going through.
“One boy told me he likes Alfie because Alfie doesn’t ask him any questions. It’s so true, in hospital normally everyone is always asking you something but with Alfie they can just sit and he falls asleep with them.
“I can’t believe I ever thought pugs weren’t real dogs. Alfie is amazing, he’s so sweet and lovely. I would work with him all day every day if I could.”