I open my eyes after the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had. My bed is free of cats and I hear the sound of a vacuum cleaner from downstairs. Dora must be here already. I jump up and open the curtains. Sun streams into the room. I make my bed and wash myself quickly, then pad downstairs wrapped in a towel. I manage to retrieve my clothes from the laundry without Dora noticing. Luckily Jasper is outside, having a loud conversation with another dog who must be walking past. I would never be able to sneak past him. The kitchen smells of something fried and I realise I am hungry.
Once I am dressed I find Dora in the lounge. “Morning Dora, where is Gogo Kaye?” I straighten the green cushion on the nearby chair. The vacuum cleaner noise stops.
“So, you’re up at last!” She holds the sucking part of the vacuum cleaner in one hand and puts the other on her hip. “Madam said not to wake you. She wanted to let you sleep. She’s gone to the church. There is a plate of French toast in the microwave.” Her hand moves towards the switch.
“What’s the difference between South African toast and French toast?” I was hoping the nice smell came from something more interesting than bread.
Dora laughs. “It is bread dipped in egg then fried. I like it with syrup but Madam likes it with cheese.” She switches on the vacuum cleaner. “Off you go now, I have work to do.”
The French toast lives up to its delicious smell. I have been eating more than usual these last couple of days. It’s no wonder that my track suit pants are getting a bit tight. I wash and dry my dishes when I am done and wipe the table.
Dora shuffles into the kitchen, pulling the vacuum cleaner behind her like a lazy dog.
“Dora, Gogo Kaye said she’d pay me to look after the animals. She said you’d show me where to find the dog and cat food. I must walk Jasper and brush the cats every day.” It is almost as if Marshmallow knows what we are talking about because she comes and rubs against my legs.
“Keep that cat away from me,” says Dora, her eyes big. “You know evil spirts live in cats?”
“Not this cat.” I pick up Marshmallow and take her to the couch in the lounge.
Dora tells me that the animals have already been fed but shows me everything I need to know. I feel bad that I slept so long and somebody else had to do my job this morning.
Any doubt I might have had about whether to take Jasper for a walk first or brush the cats first, is resolved by Jasper who hears the door of the food cupboard.
“All right, Boy, I missed you too,” I tell the enthusiastic dog. “Let’s go.” I fetch Jasper’s lead and the gate remote Gogo Kaye gave me last night.
Perhaps I should take the opportunity to explore the neighbourhood around the house. I fill up my two-litre bottle with water, grab a plastic bowl and pack them into my cat bag, slinging it over my shoulder.
Jasper leads me to the park as usual but he listens when I tell him to sit before we cross roads. We run around the park together and then we walk on, away from the house.
I let Jasper lead the way. He seems just as interested in exploring as I am. We turn right at the first corner and he snuffles happily along, marking his territory along the way. I memorise our turns because although I am sure Jasper can get us home, I would prefer to be certain of my directions myself.
After nine turns, Jasper starts flagging. “Time for a bre...