A stray dog in Sliema is now living a life of luxury abroad after befriending a French woman who used to work as a travel agent in Ta' Xbiex.

Caroline Oliver, who says her heart is Maltese, arrived in Malta in 2000 and found a job as a travel agent. She was very happy in Malta and was engaged until the relationship broke down.

"I was so unhappy and sad, this was in 2005. I was always on the Strand, drinking in bars to forget what had happened to me."

Until that day in January 2005.

"I was sitting at the Black Gold bar in Sliema when a dog came up to me and sat on my feet for four hours. I thought that dog was very very nice and I decided to take him home with me. I called him Poipoi. I left the bar, tried to make him follow me but he wouldn't. Then the waitress of the bar explained that this dog was a stray dog called Fluffy, everybody knew him and liked him and that he would not follow anyone.

"So I left the dog behind me feeling so sad inside my heart. Something had happened between this dog and I.

"Time went by. And I saw the dog again a month later, he was walking on the Strand, I gave him a hug and then I left.

"One day I saw him in front of a bar on the Strand. Two men were holding his head and another one was trying to put a cigarette in its mouth. I was shocked. I stopped and shouted and the dog followed me. I tried to take him home with me but he wouldn't come.

"This dog was so used to being on the street. I noticed that he had a bad leg. I decided I needed to know more about Fluffy.

"People in Sliema told me that he was thrown from a car when he was a baby, hit by cars twice and that his leg was broken.

"They told me how he slept at Manoel Island. That everyday, kids would push him into the sea and that other people would help him out.

"A crazy guy used to hit the dog with a broom.

"Fluffy lived on the bread left for the duck village."

Ms Oliver said that for six months, she saw the dog maybe two or three times a month and each time he was very happy to see her.

One day she followed him to Manoel Island to see where he was living.

"Then one day as I was going home, walking in front of the Black Gold bar I heard someone walking behind me. I turned and it was Fluffy. I continued to walk, so happy to see that the dog wanted to come with me by itself.

"I opened my door and gave him some food and water outside as he wouldn't come in.

"I decided to go to sleep but left my entry door open. Fluffy came up and slept all night on the floor in my bedroom.

"The next morning as soon as I got up he ran away, afraid to be kept inside.

"I went to work and in the evening I went on the Strand looking for Fluffy. He was here, waiting for me. It was magic. He followed me home and slept in my house, the door closed.

"For two months, he didn't want to stay inside during the day, so I let him go during the day, and he would come to sleep in my house. He was always waiting for me at the bar. I was so worried for him, worried to find him dead in the evening, hit by a car etc....

"Then one morning I opened the door for him to go and he stayed.... I was so happy.

"I let him take his time to get used to me, I always told myself that if he wanted to go he was free and it was he who decided to stay.

"In 2007, I left Malta for France and of course I took him with me. I was so proud to have him.

"Now his name is Poipoi, he is the sweetest dog in the world. He can't live without me, always behind me, he is always afraid of being abandoned.

"Since 2007, this cute Maltese dog has lived with me in Spain, Morocco, different places in France, and in Switzerland.

"I am now a hotel manager and Poipoi lives in beautiful places and hotels.... From the street he has become the dog of luxury hotels!!!"

Ms Oliver said she wanted to share this story for the people of Sliema who knew this dog to know what had happened to him. She said she was grateful to all those who had helped him.

"It is thanks to the sailors of Captain Morgan who were giving him food and thanks to Magdalen, this lady in Sliema who saved him from death. Finally this dog saved me from drinking and becoming someone I didn't want to be.

"I knew I had come to Malta for something important and that something is Poipoi. He takes all my heart."

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