Kodiak inadvertently causes trouble.
Kodiak woke slowly. At first he couldn’t remember where he was, but then everything came back to him, the strange but gentle tiger who’d found him in the wood, the way the tiger had helped him clean his fur and paws, plus the tiger’s tale and the drama which followed it. Kodiak knew his place wasn’t downstairs though, for there was already a male brown bear in the room. Kodiak had noticed him on the first night. Now he wondered if the resident male brown bear would take exception to his presence. Stretching languidly, Kodiak looked round the room. There were lions, tigers, otters, leopards, dogs, polar bears, and even two horses in the room where he’d spent the night. If this wasn’t enough to cope with, there were two very strange animals in the room, one was the animal who’d told one of the otters to read a book, the other was a huge cat like creature with brownie black spots and huge paws. Kodiak didn’t know what kind of creatures these two were. Crawling to where the animal who’d chastised the otter was reading a large book, Kodiak tried reading over the animal’s shoulder without him noticing. The animal turned his head and made eye contact with the brown bear.
“I hate those who read over my shoulder like that Kodiak,” the animal said. Kodiak stared at his paws.
“I’m sorry,” he said. The strange animal closed the book and rested his paw on the cover.
“What can I do for you?” the animal asked. Kodiak hesitated.
“I wonder,” he said, “could you please tell me about this place? Give me some pointers as to who’s who, some history, that kind of thing?”
“Well,” the animal said, “for starters, I’m a meerkat, my name’s Kalahari.”
“What on earth is a Meerkat?” Kodiak asked.
“I’m a meerkat,” Kalahari replied, “I’m not of this country though, oh no. I come from the desert. We’ve got animals from many different countries of the world here.”
“I know where
Tigers come from, both white and the
“Oh, that’ll be Salty,” Kalahari replied, “he’s a snow leopard. He’s a fine fellow, keeps himself to himself mostly. Upstairs there are other animals, more polar bears, common leopards, snow leopards and otters. There’s a female brown bear up there too.”
“yes Kodiak,” Bruin said, “before you get any ideas in your head, that female brown bear is my mate. So keep your paws off her!”
“You’ve done more to upset Brunetta in the last few weeks than any bear should be able to stand,” Salty said, “I think she’s about as much your mate as Snowy is mine Bruin.” Bruin glared at Salty.
“You are a horrid animal Salty!” Bruin yelled.
“It is true all the same,” a voice said, “I only pleaded for you to be let back in on compassionate grounds because I hate to see anyone out in the cold. I thought I loved you Bruin, now though, I think having a mate is more trouble than it’s worth for me. I’d prefer a close circle of friends any day. Bruin fell silent.
“if no animal is to be thrown out of the house any more,” Kalahari said, “then where are they to be punished if they do wrong?”
“the spare room has a wardrobe in it, a dark, uninhabited place where no animal goes. Once that door closes on you, you’re isolated from everything,” snowy said.
“It sounds a horrid place,” Tigger said.
“It is, I’ve seen inside it,” Clarence replied.
“You are shut away in the dark with a wooden floor to lie on, and if you’re too large, you can’t even do that! The door shuts tight, and you’re alone. I don’t know what’s worse, being outside or locked in the wardrobe,” Snowy said.
“When were you locked in the wardrobe?” Brunetta asked.
“I had to be locked in there for a time, so did Leo, so we knew what it was like. It was part of our training to become leaders of the community. When the community started to get lawless and divided, it was time to act. Leo and I persuaded the boss to let us use the wardrobe for a prison and lock Leo and myself up in it so we knew what it was like to be isolated in there. The boss took a lot of convincing, but we managed to prevail upon him to let us use the wardrobe as a prison for criminals. He opened the door and Leo got in first. Being large, to close the door I had to push Leo to the back of the wardrobe before I could close the door, even then it was difficult. It was up to each of us to ask the boss to set a time for the other’s imprisonment so the prisoner knew nothing of the time they were to spend in the wardrobe. I spent an hour, which seemed like five years, and Leo spent half an hour, before he had to be taken out as he was dreadfully upset by the whole thing.” Leo, listening to Snowy’s account, grimaced as he remembered his time in the wardrobe.
“Snowy learned what it was like to be shut up in a confined space,” he said, “I already knew, and the experience was almost too much for me. I will never do anything which could end up with me in the wardrobe. It’s horrid in there!”
“I don’t think some of us would fit in there Snowy,” Salty said, “I know that wardrobe, and it’s not large enough for some of us.”
“You would be stuffed in there if you had to be Salty,” Snowy said, you’d go, even if it strained every muscle in your body!”
“look,” Lucy barked, “this kind of talk frightens me, can we stop it now?”
“that’s what we want to happen,” Leo said, “if we tell you all what this place is like, then noone will do anything which could result in them being shovelled in there. I never want to go in there again!”
“What I’d like to know,” Kodiak said, “changing the subject completely, is this. Where am I going to stay? I can’t stay here. Not with Bruin here.”
“This is true,” snowy replied, “how about if you go to the place where Bruin used to stay. It’s where I have my place, up in the bedroom, on the quilt. It’s nice and warm up there, the quilt is soft on the paws, and I’m sure you’d like it. Brunetta lives up there too, she’ll show you to your new place.” With that snowy settled down on the rug beside Leo. Brunetta took Kodiak’s paw and led him up the stairs to the place where the quilt was.
“Lie down here,” Brunetta invited, patting the quilt with her paw. Kodiak lay down on the quilt, the soft material caressing his paws.
“This is wonderful!” he exclaimed as his paws were warmed by the quilt. Arki crawled into the room and lay down on the quilt. Kodiak examined Arki from nose to tail, taking in everything about her, from her ears to the pads of her paws. Arki grinned at Kodiak as she settled herself.
“You like the look of me Kodiak?” She asked. Kodiak smiled:
“I do,” he said, “you are very beautiful.” Arki grinned and rested her chin on her forepaws.
“Sam’s my mate,” she said drowsily, “I’m spoken for.” She stretched languidly, clenching and stretching the toes of all four paws.
“nice place this,” Arki added, relaxing finally. Kodiak tore his eyes from Arki, and focused on Brunetta, who lay beside him. She was even more beautiful to Kodiak’s eyes than Arki. Everything about Brunetta was perfect, from her ears to her paws. Kodiak felt himself warming to Brunetta, and when she took his paw in hers, he knew he felt something for her.
“if I stroke your paws, will you stroke mine?” Brunetta asked. Kodiak, at that moment, would have agreed to jumping over the moon if Brunetta had asked it of him.
“I will,” he said, “but I don’t know how to stroke a paw, not properly, not like Tigger does it anyway.” Brunetta smiled.
“Tigger is very good at what he does,” she said, “but I will show you how it’s done, and you will be able, in time, to massage paws as well as he can,” She replied. Kodiak felt Brunetta’s paws gently holding his.
“Let me stroke your paws first,” Brunetta said, “and I will tell you what I’m doing as I do it, then you try it.” Brunetta stroked Kodiak’s left forepaw with both of hers.
“first rub the back of the paw, like this,” Brunetta said, rubbing Kodiak’s paw, “now lift the paw gently and hold it in one of your paws while rubbing the pads of the paw with your free paw, like this,” Brunetta demonstrated, Kodiak feeling her pads working over his. “very gently,” Brunetta advised, “stroke the pads of the paw very gently, for the sole and pads of the paw are sensitive. Now gently take hold of the toes of the paw you are stroking with yours, like this,” Brunetta said, curling the toes of her left forepaw gently round those of Kodiak’s right.
“My paw feels warm now!” Kodiak exclaimed, “when you took my paw in yours, it felt warm and pleasant.”
“That’s right,” Brunetta replied, “that’s how it’s meant to feel. Now when you have gentle hold of the paw, rub your pads against those of the paw you are stroking, like this. Brunetta demonstrated. Kodiak felt the same sensation he had when in the bathtub during Tigger’s ministrations. He wanted to stay awake, but at the same time sleep for weeks. His whole world was focused through the pads of his right forepaw. Kodiak could not help relaxing totally.
“There you are,” Brunetta said gently.
“You do the same for all four paws?” Kodiak asked hopefully.
“Yes Kodiak, I do,” Brunetta replied. Kodiak knew he was going to enjoy learning all about this.
“But what if an animal doesn’t want to give you its paws?” Kodiak asked.
“Then you don’t force them,” Brunetta replied, “It’s all done on consent. You have to trust that I wont’ harm you while your paws are in my care. You can do little to defend yourself with your paws out of action. We never force an animal to give up their paws. Sometimes paw massage is used on a sick animal without their consent, but this is rare. I’ve used it only once, and the animal who’s paws I stroked thanked me for it afterwards.” Kodiak smiled.
“I suppose this kind of thing is used to help animals who have long term ailments?” he asked. Brunetta started to massage Kodiak’s right hind paw.
“yes it is,” she confirmed, “snowy has regular paw massages to help her.”
“What’s wrong with her?” Kodiak asked.
“that’s confidential information,” Brunetta replied, “all I can say is that she has her paws massaged every day to help her control her illness.”
“I saw Tigger and Portia stroking each other’s paws while we were downstairs,” Kodiak said faintly, “is that a similar thing to this?”
“it is,” Brunetta replied, “but the feelings between the two animals are different, though the techniques used are the same.” Arki looked at Kodiak.
“I used to hate having my paws stroked,” she said, “now though, I enjoy it as much as anyone here.”
“What made you change your mind?” Kodiak asked.
“My paws had been badly bruised by something which happened in my early life, so I wasn’t too keen to let another animal near them. One day Tolstuka convinced me to let her stroke one of my paws, and from that day to this, I’ve never looked back. I suppose if the animal stroking your paws means you no harm and respects you, that comes through in the massage. The same happens if the animal hates you and wants to do you harm. Though they might be gently stroking your paws, you know they don’t mean any good towards you.”
“Can I stroke your paws Arki?” Kodiak asked. Arki smiled at him.
“If you like,” she said.
“That way I can really see if what I’m doing is the right thing, for you don’t know me, and you are not teaching me, so your reaction to what I do will be genuine.”
“Are you saying I might act relaxed when I’m not?” Brunetta asked, though she knew the reasons behind Kodiak’s question to Arki, and agreed with him.
“No!” Kodiak protested, taking the bait beautifully, “What I meant was,,,”
I know what you meant Kodiak, and yes it’s a good move to stroke Arki’s paws.” Arki rolled onto her side, waving a forepaw at Kodiak.
“Come on then,” she said, “I want my paws stroked!” Kodiak grinned at Arki, who rolled onto her back and waved her paws in the air.
“I want my paws stroked!” she wined, sounding like a spoilt cub, “I want them stroked now! Now! Now!” Kodiak laughed so much he nearly cried.
“You great big cub!” he said. Arki stopped waving her paws in the air and grinned at him.
“I’m only messing about,” she said, “though waving my paws in the air felt very good indeed!”
“I’ve never done that,” Kodiak said.
“It feels so good!” Arki enthused.
“But I’d look silly!” Kodiak replied, “waving my paws in the air like a cub.”
“You laughed at Arki because she was playing at being a spoilt cub,” Brunetta replied, “it still doesn’t mean the feeling you get from waving your paws in the air is any less pleasurable.” Kodiak grinned at Arki.
“As long as you wave your paws too,” he said, “I’m not doing this on my own.” Arki grinned.
“The trick is to relax your paws and kick hard at the air with them, really go for it!” Kodiak rolled onto his back, feeling rather self conscious.
“now pedal the air with all four paws, like this!” Arki encouraged, waving her paws in the air. Kodiak watched her.
“You seem to enjoy it,” he said, “but I don’t know if I would.”
“Just try it, just once,” Arki said. Kodiak tried waving his paws in the air, and felt tremendous release from doing so.
“That’s it!” Arki encouraged, “go on Kodiak! Really push at the air with those paws!” Kodiak tried putting everything he had into pedalling the air with his paws, and found he quite liked it. Arki clapped her paws with delight!
“It’s wonderful isn’t it?” she said, grabbing hold of Kodiak’s right forepaw and tickling his pads. Kodiak laughed helplessly!
“Tickling my paw wasn’t in the script!” he laughed, “it feels good though.” Arki stroked his paw.
“now do you want to stroke my paws?” She asked. Kodiak smiled at the female polar bear.
“I’d be delighted to do so,” he said. Kodiak examined Arki’s paws, giving himself time to remember what Brunetta had taught him.
“Come on then!” Arki said impatiently, “stroke my paws!”
“Okay,” Kodiak said, “but I can’t remember how!” Arki grinned and hugged Kodiak tightly.
“Your up for stroking my paws,” she said, “but when the time comes you forget how! Come, I’ll show you.” With that she gently guided Kodiak through what Brunetta had taught him only a few minutes before.
Soon Kodiak got to do what he’d wished to do ever since he’d met Arki, namely stroke her paws. While stroking her left forepaw, Kodiak realised he’d not formally asked the female polar bear her name, just learned it by overhearing others use it.
“?We were never formally introduced,” he said. Arki grinned:
“We weren’t now you come to think of it,” she replied.
“Can I call you Arki?” Kodiak asked. Arki laughed.
“Arki’s my name, so I don’t mind if you call me by it,” she said, You are so funny! Of course you can call me Arki you silly thing.” Kodiak smiled at Arki and squeezed her paw.
“come to think of it,” Arki said, “I tickled your paw without knowing your name, and that’s not very polite.” Kodiak massaged Arki’s pads.
“You did,” he said, “and I’m most offended!” Arki heard the brown bear’s tone and hugged him.
“Dear Kodiak,” she said, “what a hoot this all is!” Kodiak smiled, feeling part of the family at last.
Sam watched Arki and Kodiak. He wondered if Arki had overstepped the mark from being polite and welcoming to the brown bear, to being too friendly with him. She’d played with him and him with her like they were cubs! Sam crawled over to Arki and walloped her!
“that’s enough cub play!” he snapped.
“Hey Sam, that hurt!” Arki whimpered.
“I don’t like you getting too close to that brown bear Arki!” Sam yelled.
“I was playing with him, making him feel at ease, that’s all Sam! There was nothing else to what I was doing!”
“It didn’t look like that!” Sam blustered, “it looked and sounded as if you were too familiar with him! Like you two were cubs and could do cubbish things like waiving your paws in the air and tickling each other’s paws! You are not a cub Arki!” Sam’s paw landed across Arki’s nose with an audible smack.
“I’m sorry Sam,” Arki sniffed, “it wont happen again.” Sam snorted with disgust.
“I should think not!” he spat, “what the hell were you playing at?” Arki whimpered with pain and misery. Sam tugged at her paw.
“Come on,” he said, “let’s go!” With that he tugged Arki away, the female polar bear extremely upset.
“What’s upset him?” Kodiak asked when Arki and Sam were out of earshot.
“Sam’s blustering about Arki acting like a cub is camouflage for his real feelings,” Brunetta said, “he was worried you and Arki would get too close, if you know what I mean.”
“She was playing with me, we were playing together Brunetta!” Kodiak whimpered, “she was expressing her love for physical contact with other animals!”
“Sam wishes she’d express her love for physical contact only with him. He hates it when other animals stroke Arki’s paws,” Brunetta said.
“Sam thinks he has an automatic and sole right to Arki does he?” Kodiak asked, “that Arki can’t make her own choices as to whom she wants to stroke her paws?”
It seems that way,” Brunetta replied.
“I will fight him!” Kodiak yelled, “I will fight for Arki to have freedom of choice as to whom she wants to stroke her paws! I loved it when she waved her paws in the air! When she tickled my paw too, that was a shock, but was spontaneous and very enjoyable. I will not let Sam control Arki’s life!”
“You need not fight Sam Kodiak,” a voice said. Kodiak looked round to see a huge snow leopard standing on the carpet.
“Salty?” Kodiak asked.
“yes,” the snow leopard replied, “I am Salty, and I am the one who is about to give Sam a hiding for controlling Arki. She is not his property, she is a free spirit, able to do whatever she wants, even if it is waving her paws in the air or having her paws stroked or tickled by another bear or whomever she wishes. Sam will regret not letting his mate express herself. I will not let him have his way with her. Arki is free to play, free to do what she dam well likes!”
“Since when have you been Arki’s protector?” Sam asked, busting into the room!
“Since I have been able to do this!” Salty replied, belting Sam about the head with his paw! Sam collapsed onto the carpet!
“You’ll be put in the wardrobe for that!” Whitie mewed.
“Sam will go there before I do Whitie cub,” Salty replied. Sam lay groaning on the carpet as he came round.
“I’ve got a monstrous headache,” Sam moaned.
“I can do the same again,” Salty said. Sam spat at him!
“You won’t tie Arki’s paws Sam!” Salty snarled.
“Arki was being too familiar with Kodiak!” Sam yelled, “she shouldn’t have done what she did!”
“You don’t have exclusive rights to Arki!” Salty yelled, “she can do what she dam well likes, even go with another bear if she gets mistreated by her current mate!” Sam growled deep in his throat.
“Are you suggesting I mistreat Arki?” He asked.
“Physically maybe not, but on what I’ve seen, then that’s a possibility,” Salty said, “psychologically, well, that’s debateable.” Sam left the room as fast as he could.
“I’m not listening to this!” He yelled.
Arki watched all from her hiding place under the bed. She’d seen everything, having shot beneath the bed during the period when Sam was unconscious. Now she lay, fighting not to cry. Salty had mentioned psychological and physical abuse, and Arki knew both. Sam hated it when she got too close to the cubs, playing with them as she’d done with Kodiak. He also hated it when other animals stroked and massaged her paws, be they cubs or other adult animals. The fact Kodiak was a bear didn’t register with Sam, as much as the notion of another animal stroking Arki’s paws did. He hated anyone but himself stroking her paws, and Arki was fed up with it.
Salty caught sight of Arki cowering beneath the bed.
“Arki?” Salty said gently. Arki crawled out of her refuge.
“I know all that you spoke of,” she said, “I know everything about it Salty.” Salty lay down and embraced Arki tightly.
“Arki dear, it’s okay my pet, I promise,” Salty said gently. Arki buried her face in his fur.
“Salty,” she sobbed, “I want to stroke the paws of other animals, and they want to stroke mine, but Sam hates anyone stroking my paws! My paws are mine to do with what I want!” Salty hugged Arki close, nuzzling her ear and stroking her paws.
“It’s all right Arki,” Salty said, “we will make sure Sam never gets the chance to touch you again.” Arki cried into Salty’s fur.
“We’ll make sure noone harms her,” Brunetta said. Sam listened at the door, knowing he was really for it. When Leo and Snowy heard of this, he’d be in the wardrobe for sure.
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