Meet some of Hampstead Heath's biggest fans – the dogs

Alfie at Hampstead Heath

Alfie - Credit: Joey Grostern

The act of parliament that preserved much of Hampstead Heath for future generations was signed 150 years ago

As well as benefitting millions of people since then, it has provided a stomping ground for many pets.

To celebrate the anniversary, the Ham&High took a Sunday stroll to meet the dogs that have kept their owners company during the successive lockdowns. 

Harrison and Alfie at Hampstead Heath

Harrison and Alfie - Credit: Joey Grostern

Alfie, the spaniel

"Super-social" Alfie’s owners Harrison and Marie got him in January, right in the middle of lockdown.

“We come to the Heath every day,” Harrison said. “There’s a community here with the dogs, especially when we were in lockdown, everybody was just so frustrated to being inside all day not talking to people.” 

Brothers Peter (left) and Martin O’Connell with Martin’s dog Alfie at Hampstead Heath

Brothers Peter (left) and Martin O’Connell with Martin’s dog Alfie - Credit: Joey Grostern

Alfie, the-five-year-old chihuahua terrier cross

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“He’s a pretend miniature great dame,” Alfie’s owner Martin said. 

“I’ve had dogs all my life and my last passed four years ago. I wanted a German shepherd, I came home from work and the wife said: 'There someone in the sitting room to see you.'

“He’s a cross between a chihuahua and a terrier. I went ‘he’s not a German shepherd’, but he came over stuck his head between my legs and I was sold.” 

Flynn at Hampstead Heath

Flynn - Credit: Joey Grostern

Flynn, a rescued stray from Romania

“I don’t know what breed he is,” Flynn’s owner Tom told us. “In photos that they sent me I thought he was border terrier kind of dog, but when he came he was more like a wolfhound.

“Being a street dog he keeps his distance. I don’t even think he needs me, I’m just here to feed him.” 

Tom wasn’t wrong. As we spoke Flynn wandered off, clearly disinterested in any publicity.

Tom told us of his memories of the Heath: “My nephew is riding his remote control boat on the lake as we speak so we’re killing two birds with one stone.

"It’s a flashback because I brought my son here when he was six, which is nearly 20 years ago, and he fell in doing the same thing. So we thought: let’s do the same thing with him. It’s his sixth birthday.” 

Margot on Hampstead Heath

Margot - Credit: Joey Grostern

Margot, the 10-year-old Dalmatian and Honey, the five-year-old rescue dog from Hong Kong 

“Honey had never been on grass before being here, she lived in high rise apartments in Hong Kong and the only place to walk honey was a car park,” Jimmy, who cares for Honey, told us. 

“Honey's really changed, she used to be much more aggressive but now she’s so lovely and so calm.”

The original owner in Hong Kong had to leave the city for a job, and could no longer take care of Honey, and now Honey can’t get enough of the Heath.

“I take them out every day twice. They’re used to it,” Jimmy added.

Barney at Hampstead Heath

Barney - Credit: Joey Grostern

Barney, the 18-month-old cockapoo 

Owners Rob and Kate got Barney during the first week of lockdown.

“He loves water. There’s a big horrid stagnant pool of water halfway up that hill, he’ll make a beeline for it any moment now,” Rob said as Barney emerged Baywatch style from the dog pond. 

Barney is Rob and Kate’s first dog together, though Rob was hesitant to get him.

“Kate grew up with dogs and thought having one was the best idea ever, but I thought both of us working long hours mean it would never happen.” 

Benjy and Mario

Benjy and Mario - Credit: Joey Grostern

Benjy emerging from the water, Baywatch style

Benjy emerging from the water, Baywatch style - Credit: Joey Grostern

Benjy, the border collie husky cross 

Mario, Benjy’s owner, lives in Tufnell Park and can be found walking on the Heath most days. 

He told us he always wanted a dog and got Benjy for his daughter.

"He’s a nice dog, lots of energy,” he said.