Warwickshire's chimney sweeping dog
PUBLISHED: 11:02 18 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:43 20 February 2013
Border collies have been bred to work and can be seen on farms up and down Britain rounding up sheep, and even geese. But have you ever met a working canine chimney sweep?
Great-grandfather, Bill Brooks, has someone to give him a helping hand as he drives round Warwickshire sweeping the chimneys of homeowners who still enjoy having an open fire or log burner crackling away in their grates on winter evenings.
Or perhaps that is best described as a helping paw.
His helpmate is his five-year-old border collie, Alfie, who stays outside the houses where Bill is working and barks to let him know when his sweeps brush appears out of the top of the chimney.
Bill, aged 70, of Bishops Tachbrook, near Leamington Spa, who has been a chimney sweep for the past 34 years, taught him how to do it after Alfie, who came from a farm at Henley-in-Arden, suddenly barked at the brush one day when it startled him.
He is very popular with my customers who all know about him and, whenever they telephone me to book an appointment, they always ask if I am going to bring him with me, said Bill who has four children from his two marriages, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
He goes everywhere with me in fact I cant go anywhere without him and it is really useful to have him there so I can be certain that my brush has gone right to the chimney top without having to go outside and look myself.
That is particularly nice when it is raining because it means that I dont have to get wet. Mind you, neither does Alfie because he always sits in my van and looks out of the window while he keeps an eye on the chimney pot for me.
Bill, who used to work at AP Leamington, bought his sweeps round for 100 in 1976 from a rugby referee he met while playing rugby for the towns local rugby club. He was also a part-time window cleaner at the time and got into the habit of cleaning windows when the weather was good and sweeping chimneys when it clouded over.
Really, I am retired now, but I am keeping on my chimney sweeps round because I enjoy it and Alfie is a real talking point with my customers, he added.
The amazing thing is that he is just as helpful at home. He always barks to let you know when the washing machine has finished its cycle and insists on going out with you when you take the bins out. He is really intelligent and almost talks to you.
Do you have an amazing animal with skills to match Alfies
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