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by Bonnie Rosen
Gorgeous Chiko
Gorgeous Chiko

Hi my name is Chiko. I thought I would tell you a little bit about myself, my human and animal family, and how I came to live with them. I am a Murray Curly Coated Retriever which is a pretty unusual breed. I am a thoroughbred Curly Coated Retriever which was originally crossed with a kelpie on the Murray River to make me a bit smaller and agile.  Most people think I am a spoodle or labradoodle, but they are different because they have a top notch and I don't. I think my special features are my curly two tone ears and bright yellow eyes. My coat is also very, very soft, and feels like velvet, especially on my face.

My nicknames are Chiko Licko because I just love licking so much. My mum calls my tongue a "weapon of moist destruction". In fact, that is why my mum chose me because I licked her and my sister didn't (but more about that later). I am also called Chiko Chanel, when my mum wants me to sound a bit posh. My nickname Frogdog came about because I can lie with my back legs out like a frog.

I live with two human brothers, Laurence and Ilan, a feline brother called Eli, one human mum, Bonnie, and one human dad, Colin. There are also two funny things that never leave their glass container ­ I think they are fish. I have a doggie bed which lies in my mum and dad's bedroom, but my favourite sleeping place is between mum and dad, in the bed. My brother Eli and I don't really like lying on the floor so we alternate between the chairs in the familyroom and loungeroom.

The story about how I came to live with my family is quite an interesting one. I often hear my mum say that she has always loved retrievers but didn't get one because they drop so much hair. My dad loves poodles which aren't my mum's favourite because they apparently don't like cats, so a labradoodle was out. So, I was perfect ­ a retriever that sheds very little hair and looks like a poodle. Also, I am sure that this wasn't intentional but we all know how much like us our mums look like ­ my mum's hair is dark brown and shoulder length. In fact my whole human family has brown hair.

In May 2005, at 8 weeks old I left my canine family and went to a pet shop with my sister and 3 brothers. My human family thinks they chose me, but they are so wrong because as they walked past, I gave them my supreme look ­ my dad calls it the "hang dog look"­ you know, head down, eyes up. This look I discovered very early on makes me irresistibly cute. My family was on their way to buy footy cards but got waylaid by my look. I think they were really ready for a doggie, but just couldn't make the final decision. That of course was my job! They wanted a girl so I knew that I had to go the extra mile to be chosen above my sister. When my mum picked me up, I gave her such a lick, and that was that. The next thing I knew I was sitting on her lap on my way home.

When I first came into the house my brother Eli hissed at me, but I soon won him over. I quickly learnt that he is boss, and show him all the respect he deserves. I let him eat from my bowl and drink from my water dish, just waiting patiently for him to finish. In fact, I always leave a bit left over for him to finish because he is on a very strict diet - our doctor says 10.8kg is too much for a cat to weigh so he is on rations which makes him a bit grumpy ­ I can't let that happen. We put on a night show every so often, showing the humans just how much we love each other by playing our games.

My day starts with a walk down to Princes Park where I play with my friends Willow, Ella, Indy and sometimes Daisy. My mum has trained me to come back when I am called, and to fetch balls. I am getting a bit better walking on the lead but can't resist pulling when I see a bird. My best is to chase away all the seagulls as they sit peacefully on the oval. Then I come home and have toast and butter, before my brothers go to school and my dad goes to work. I am so lucky because my mum works from home so I am hardly ever left alone. Not that it would matter because I tend to spend my day sleeping on the couch and barking at the odd passerby. Many afternoons I get to go back to the park and have a play with my friend Orla who is a golden retriever. My mum and Orla's mum have become really good friends so we often all visit each other's homes.

I think I am aware that I have a better life than most of the world's human population, let alone the dog and cat population. I show my appreciation by being really loving and affectionate, smiling a lot and trying to be obedient. It helps of course that I am so pretty and have the hugest personality.

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