Dog tales wag in new author’s life

Chester (in the painting) may be gone but Mavis Smith has Tiny and Matty and plans to write their stories too
Chester (in the painting) may be gone but Mavis Smith has Tiny and Matty and plans to write their stories too

Rescue pooches’ stories inspire animal campaigner

WHEN animal campaigner Mavis Smith won a prize for a short story published on December 24, she was encouraged to go one step further with her writing career.

Now the founder of Save-A-Pet has published her first book, Chester, a tribute to the first dog she took in on behalf of the Port Elizabeth animal rescue organisation.

Smith wrote seven short stories last year for an Animal Welfare anthology and one of these, Casey’s Wish for Christmas – was picked for The Herald’s Christmas edition.

That success was what spurred her on, but it is a far cry from a “very short story” of 100 words to a fulllength book, and Chester is the bridge between the two formats.

“It’s only a small book, because it’s the story of only one dog,” Smith said of the 40-page book – but she already has plans for more dog stories.

“I’m working on my next book now, I’ve gone mad!” she said. “I’m going back 40 years. It’s all about the dogs I’ve rescued and for every dog that was rescued, there is a story.”

The black dog with white socks who is the star of Chester has since gone to doggy heaven but his memories live on in the Smith household.

“He was such a happy and clever dog. You shouldn’t have favourites you know, but I am afraid I did in his case! Even the vet, Dr Baxter, said he was special; he told me he could not put him down.”

Smith is, in theory, retired, but still is involved with helping animals in need through visits to pre-schools in the Port Elizabeth area.

“I do a lot of education, I go to preschools and let the children know how to take care of their pets. Some of the children are terrified of dogs so I take my two little dogs with me.”

Elgine Penrith has illustrated the story with cartoons of Chester and his antics, and Debbie Nefdt assisted with layout and publishing. Smith said Penrith’s granddaughter would help to illustrate the next book.

  • Chester is on sale at Fogarty’s Bookshop and a portion of the sales will go to Save-A-Pet.

-Gillian McAinsh

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