Allie woke, feeling someone massaging one of her forepaws. The sensation was new to her, but it was so pleasant that she was afraid to open her eyes in case the animal massaging her paw noticed she was awake and fled in fear. In the end curiosity overcame Allie and she opened her eyes a little, just enough to see who it was massaging her paws. Allie realised then she didn’t have to worry about the animal seeing her eyes open, for the masseur was Whitie, and Allie knew the snow leopard cub couldn’t see her.
“Whitie cub,” Allie said gently. Whitie touched noses with Allie, the same way she acknowledged anyone who spoke to her.
“yes Allie,” Whitie replied, still stroking the pads of Allie’s left forepaw.
“where did you learn to stroke other animals paws?” Allie asked.
“Brunetta taught me,” Whitie said, “I don’t know who taught her though.” Arki smiled at Allie and pointed at Tigger. Allie smiled back at the female polar bear.
“The same tiger who rescued me,” Kodiak said. Allie looked over at Tigger and smiled at him.
“Tigger’s like me,” Whitie said, “he can’t see you Allie, so you’ll have to go up to him and touch his paw with yours, or call his name.” Allie nuzzled Whitie’s ear.
“I would go and
touch his paw if one of my own paws wasn’t in that of a certain snow leopard
cub,” she said gently, wiggling her
toes. Whitie smiled and patted Allie’s
paw. Tigger, hearing his name mentioned,
crawled over to where Allie lay. Allie
touched Tigger’s paw with hers, feeling the
“You wanted me?” Tigger purred.
“I understand it was you who taught Brunetta to stroke the paws of other animals?” Allie asked. Tigger smiled.
“I did,” he said, “and Brunetta in her turn taught Whitie.”
“I’ve never had my paws stroked until today,” Allie said, “and it’s wonderful!” Tigger stroked Allie’s pads, “like now,” Allie added, curling her toes round Tigger’s, “this feels so good!” Tigger smiled, gently nuzzling Allie’s ear. Allie breathed deeply, amazed at what the paw massage did for her. Kodiak took Allie’s right hind paw in his forepaws and began to stroke her pads. Allie pressed her paw into Kodiak’s, the brown bear patting her paw.
“Don’t press your paw into mine Allie, just relax your paw,” Kodiak said gently. Allie smiled, consciously relaxing her hind paw. Kodiak smiled, gently stroking the polar bear’s pads with his.
“I could get so used to this,” Allie said, “I don’t want this to end!”
“Paw massage is something we do a lot of here,” Tigger replied, “we use it for all kinds of purposes, from general relaxation, to pain relief, to play. It’s quite common for cubs, and adults for that matter, to tickle each other’s paws as well as massage them while playing. Allie smiled, then yelped with surprise as Whitie, Tigger and Kodiak tickled her paws! Rolling onto her back, Allie curled her toes to trap the paws of her three masseurs in an attempt to stop the tickling!
“You never warned me!” Allie laughed as she released the paws massaging hers.
“Sorry,” Tigger said. Allie smiled and hugged Whitie, Tigger and Kodiak in turn. When she came to Tigger, Allie, sensing he was the instigator of the assault on her own paws, tickled the Bengal tiger’s paws until Tigger could laugh no more. The huge tiger hugged her while he recovered, working his huge paws into her fur.
“I suppose I deserve that,” Tigger mewed. Allie stroked one of Tigger’s forepaws, it was soft and warm.
“I didn’t mind what you three did,” Allie said, “what I couldn’t take was a pleasurable massage turning so quickly into a paw tickling session. If you’re going to do that, warn me first please.” Tigger touched her paw with his free one.
“I will,” he replied, “I’m sorry Allie.” Allie smiled and touched Tigger’s nose with her forepaw.
“You are so gentle,” Allie said to Tigger. Tigger smiled and hugged her.
“When you two have quite finished,” Arki said playfully, We’ll make introductions.” Allie realised she hardly knew the names of any of the animals, even some of those who’d massaged, then tickled her paws were strangers to her.
“Okay, sorry,” Tigger replied, surreptitiously patting Allie’s paw.
“Well,” Arki said, “I’m Arki,” she pointed with her paw at Brunetta, and so on, each animal giving Allie their name. Allie had never seen so many different types of animals! Snow leopards, polar bears, brown bears, foxes, both red and Arctic, and tigers too! There were three of them including Tigger, one snow tiger cub, and a tiny Bengal tiger cub. There was even a Labrador dog. They all lazed about on rugs and quilts, every one looking as if they were happy with their lot. One big cat, who’d hidden from her, Popped up on Allie’s left and touched her paw with his. He had rings on his tail, and unsurprisingly for Allie, was called Ringo. He was an ocelot, and one of the most handsome cats Allie had ever seen. The sound of scuffing paws reached Allie’s ears, and a huge animal walked in. It had a long brown and white banded tail, and the brightest most alert eyes of any animal in the place. Following him was a very strange animal. This one was constantly looking about him, checking everything out, but he also had a knowledgeable air about him, as if he consumed books for breakfast. Kodiak saw the two animals and smiled.
“the raccoon’s name is rocky foster,” he said, “and the Meerkat’s name is Kalahari.” Allie didn’t know what a raccoon was, nor did she have a clue what a meerkat was.
“I don’t know who’s who,” she said, “for all I know, a raccoon could be the smaller animal, the one with the watchful eyes, a meerkat could be the bright eyed animal with the banded tail.”
“Oh, so you’ve never seen a raccoon or a Meerkat before?” Kodiak Asked.
“Well, no I haven’t,” Allie replied, “I’m a polar bear, these don’t look like polar animals to me.” Kodiak was about to make introductions when Kalahari raised a paw to stop him.
“I’ll take over,” the meerkat said, “you’re digging a hole for yourself Kodiak.” Turning to Allie, Kalahari smiled at her and took her paw in his.
“I’m Kalahari,” he said, “may I have the pleasure of knowing your name?”
“My name’s Allie,” Allie replied, totally confused by the meerkat’s manner.
“Stop the chivalrous bit Kalahari, you’re an earthy chap usually,” the raccoon said. Kalahari grinned and patted Allie’s paw.
“Welcome home,” he said.
“Your friend?” Allie asked, waving a paw at the raccoon.
“Oh him,” Kalahari said dismissively, “he’s rocky foster, noone really.” The raccoon smacked Kalahari playfully round the ear with his paw, Kalahari’s grin of mischief widening into a huge smile. Allie realised these two got on very well indeed.
“My name’s rocky foster,” The raccoon said, “most just call me rocky, as my full name is a real mouthful.”
“Nice to meet you rocky,” Allie replied.
“Rocky’s a raccoon, and I’m a meerkat,” Kalahari said,
“I hope this lot have been treating you well,” rocky said. Allie smiled.
“they massaged and tickled my paws,” she said.
“that’s all part of living here,” Rocky replied, “we’re always at that game, with mutual consent of course.” Allie didn’t let on that she’d not known she was going to have her paws tickled until it happened, in case the animals responsible got punished. Allie didn’t want to bring Tigger and Kodiak trouble, less still Whitie, whom she’d adopted as her own.
“paw massage is wonderful,” Allie said, though she’d not known its pleasures until she’d arrived at the house, as that kind of thing was frowned upon in her cave when she was a cub. Now though, she wished it hadn’t been, for she’d learned so much about the animals who stroked her paws while they were engaged in massaging them. She’d learned that Tigger, Whitie and Kodiak were gentle creatures, simply by concentrating on the way they stroked her paws. It was done with care and consideration, and Allie knew somehow that this didn’t just stem from professional pride in their work. It was deeper than that, it was part of each and every one of them.
“Allie?” Kodiak asked gently. Allie opened her eyes.
“Yeah?” She asked dreamily.
“You’ve been asleep for ages,” Tigger said. Allie then realised she had taken the tiger’s paw in hers, though she couldn’t remember actually doing so.
“I’m sorry Tigger,” Allie said, releasing his paw. Tigger smiled:
“You’ve been asleep for hours,” he said, “I could have removed my paw from yours , but that would mean waking you, and I didn’t want to do that.” Allie threw her paws round Tigger’s neck and embraced him tightly.
“You are so gentle Tigger,”” Allie said. Tigger tenderly licked her ear. Allie knew she was going to enjoy living at her new home, if all the animals were kind and gentle like Tigger, Whitie and Kodiak. Though she knew there were kind and gentle creatures like those who stroked her paws, there were also those who looked kind and gentle, but were anything but that when the surface was scratched.
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