A pensioner has been reunited with his long lost brother and sister after more than 20 years apart – thanks to his famous litter-picking dog.
Alfie Kitson, 80, and five-year-old Millie hit the headlines just before Christmas due to his pet’s amazing ability to tidy up rubbish and put it in the bin.
The OAP and his Spanish Podenco have become a familiar sight on the streets of Hereford ever since they moved back to Britain from Spain 18 months ago.
It was during one of these regular rounds that Alfie was spotted by his sister’s husband as Millie was helping clean up the streets.
And when Millie shot to fame with her litter-picking antics, the family were then able to track down Alfie to the village of Ulingswick, where he now lives with wife Judy, 75.
Delighted Alfie has now been reunited with brother Dave, 84, and sister Anne, 71, for the first time in more than 20 years.
The grandad-of-seven had drifted apart from his siblings after moving to Coin, in Málaga, two decades ago.
Retired plumber Alfie said: “My brother moved to London years back and my sister went elsewhere too – we just drifted apart.
“I was living in Spain and we were just living our own lives. We only returned 18 months ago to because my wife became ill.
“We had family still over here, so we moved back. It had been 20 years since I heard from Anne and Dave – those two stayed in touch.
“But I had a call recently from my granddaughter, to say my sister Anne was trying to find me, I was only eight miles away.
“I came back home on day and low and behold there was my sister. She then got in touch with my brother Dave.
“We all grew up in Hereford, and now we have all been reunited – it has been amazing.
“And to think it’s all down to teaching Millie how to put litter in the bin is just incredible really.
“They might not have ever found me if it wasn’t for Millie and her little trick.
“We are trying to make up for lost time, but because of Covid it is still a bit of distant arrangement at the moment.
“We met for a walk with Millie last week and it has been emotional. We are planning to meet up again soon in the new year.”
Anne and Dave had stayed in touch over the years, but didn’t know if their brother had returned from Spain as they had no address for him.
It was Anne’s eagled-eyed husband, Ray, 73, who spotted Alife and Millie on their regular rounds through Hereford city centre.
Ray said: “He moved over to Spain without leaving a forwarding address. We had no contact with him, his wife Judy or their eldest son Simon.
“After I spotted him back in Hereford, we then saw the coverage on Millie and went to Ulingswick to see if we could find him.
“After asking around the village we finally tracked him and his wife down.
“After 20 years of not knowing where Alfie was, Anne finally got to meet him once again and there was plenty of hugs and tears.
“Anne also let Dave know that Alfie was back in Herefordshire.
“Dave and Alfie made arrangements to meet thereby completing a reunified family.”
Millie became an overnight star with her ability to place rubbish into bins – a party trick learnt from her time in Spain.
She was just eight months old when she was found abandoned in a rubbish bag tied to a tree branch and was rescued by Alfie and Judy.
Dad-of-three Alfie said previously: “We rescued her because our house felt empty without an animal. Dogs and cats are a big part of anyone’s life that loves animals.
“Millie is a very intelligent dog and seems to enjoy her little party trick.
“A few people ask me why I do it but I enjoy it and so does Millie, plus it’s helping keeping the city clean and tidy which is our little good deed.
“All I have to say is ‘put that litter in the bin’ and she will pick it up and do it. Passers-by seem to love it and she always gets a little round of applause.
“Obviously environmental concerns are a hot topic at the moment so if we can help clear up rubbish and plastic off the street then we’re doing our bit to help.
“She isn’t just part of the family, she is the family and we are glad we can show her off to others as she really is an amazing dog.”