By Cathy Kilroe-Smith

My life in St Francis is brilliant, some would even call it privileged. I have a soft bed and am never cold at night, my belly is always full and best of all, I am loved. My favourite activities are beach walks, runs on the Wildside and going to Nippers with my mom.

But, things haven’t always been this good – one could even say I had quite a rough start. My dad left before I was born. My guess is that he was a handsome bloke, athletic and popular with the ladies. Definitely prolific – my resemblance to many of my peers is uncanny. Mom, on the other hand, wasn’t in great shape. From what I remember, feeding my brothers and I really tired her out. Sometimes she was even too exhausted to lift her head and then her milk ran dry.

Thankfully, we lived alongside a busy road and there was often an assortment of tidbits we could scavenge. It was quite scary with cars constantly whizzing past, but if you were quick and could get there before the pigs or chickens, you could find some worthwhile scraps.

All in all, not an ideal upbringing. I missed my mommy and was constantly hungry. I hated sleeping in the mud and being chased by people with sticks. I felt homeless.

But then everything changed. A lady with a crown of golden curls and a soft voice came into our lives. She wrapped us in a warm blanket and then gave us the most delicious food. At first, I was skeptical. Why would this human be so kind to us? It didn’t take long before the pain in my tummy got the better of me. How could I turn down good grub, a warm bed and the occasional belly rub?

At first, my brothers and I all got to stay together. Happy to be together, we played hard and slept on top of each other. Then, one day, we got all cleaned up, piled in a basket and taken to a very noisy market. For hours, we were passed from hand to hand – my belly has never gotten so much attention! By lunchtime, I was exhausted and fell asleep in the arms of a little girl with dark hair.

When I woke up, my brothers were nowhere to be seen. I was at a new place with new smells. Next thing I knew, I was being given the once over by a tan Africanis named Penny. At first, I don’t think she liked me very much and she just sniffed around me. But, it didn’t take long before she succumbed to my charm. She taught me things nobody else could; she showed me where to do my business, how to make a noise when someone walks past, how to sit and look sweet when mom has treats, and best of all, what to do when mom is mad (and this happened a lot in the beginning).

Mom had soft couch and one day when she was out, I started chewing on the corner of a cushion. It felt so good. Before I knew it, I had demolished all of the cushions and found myself surrounded by soft white fluff. The more I flicked my head, the more stuff came out. It was such fun! Unfortunately, mom was really mad and nearly sent me back to Seavista. Penny came to the rescue and showed me how to look up at her with my ears up and a little bit of the whites of my eyes showing. It never fails to charm her and, in no time, I was back in her good books.

Mom says I am calming down, but I think I am just relaxing. Finally, I am home.

So St Francis, if you ever see a black Africanis running around with a smaller (but much faster) tan Africanis, be sure to stop and give us a cuddle. We have a surplus of love and affection to pass on and you are guaranteed to walk away feeling special.