Whitie, Blackie and Bess.



Whitie lay in the lower branches of a tree deep in the wood, having clambered up into the tree to find sanctuary.  Curling her tail round a sturdy branch, she settled down to think.

      “I didn’t mean any harm to Ahanu when I washed his face and paws,” she thought miserably.  Whitie knew she was the only one of her family left, Stifftail didn’t count.  Whitie leapt down from the tree, misjudged her leap and landed in a bush.  Cursing, she scrambled from the bush.  As she did so, she heard something whimpering in the undergrowth.  Turning back towards the bush, Whitie tore at the foliage with her teeth and claws.  Ripping at the leaves and bushes, Whitie tore until her paws came into contact with something warm and furry.  The thing flinched beneath her paws, but made no attempt to run, even when she was ripping at the undergrowth, and making a lot of noise doing it.  The thing beneath her paws wriggled and squirmed, whimpering for mercy, but still did not run.

      “What are you?”  Whitie asked gently, removing her paw from the creature’s back.

      “I’m, or I was a snow leopard,” the poor creature wailed.

      “Howe can you not be what you are?”  Whitie mewed.

      “I, I was thrown out of my family,” the poor animal sobbed.

      “Why were you thrown out of your family?”  Whitie asked.

      “It’s natural to be thrown out, but not like I was,” the leopard mewed, “I was barely weaned when I got thrown out.  My family didn’t want me for one reason, because of the way I look!”  I am a snow leopard, but I have white spots and black fur!”

      “I have white fur and black spots,” Whitie mewed.

     “Indeed you do,” the snow leopard mewed, “but I don’t, I’m opposite to you in almost every way, apart from I am a snow leopard.”  Whitie leant down and kissed the snow leopard’s nose, smelling his fur, which smelt very male.  Whitie felt a thrill run through her, and knew what it meant.

      “Would you like to come home with me?”  Whitie asked.  The male black snow leopard struggled to his feet, but could hardly stand due to weakness.

      “I’m not a good hunter, because of my fur you see,” he mewed.”  Whitie kissed the snow leopard’s nose once more, the black male snow leopard smiling broadly, his white teeth showing sharply against his black facial fur.

       “I will help you get home,” Whitie mewed.

       “Can I help?”  Someone asked.  Whitie recognised Fleur’s voice and turned to her.

      “Please,” Whitie mewed.  The black snow leopard saw a large cross bred female cat coming through the trees.  The cat smiled at him, and her smile was as warm as Whitie’s had been.

      “Come,” fleur mewed, touching the black snow leopard’s paw, “what’s your name?”

      “They called me Blackie,” the leopard mewed, much ashamed by his name.

      “We have Blackie and Whitie then,” fleur mewed, “how very original.”  Whitie grinned.  Whitie, fleur and Blackie padded towards the house.  Once there, Whitie invited the black snow leopard into the house, while various other animals stared from all the windows.  Blackie followed Whitie into the house, his paws hardly able to support his weight, which wasn’t much as he was underfed and almost starving.  Fleur gave the leopard food, then, when he’d eaten and drunk all he felt he could and had rested a little, she led him to the bathtub, where she washed his fur and paws, something Blackie wasn’t used to, but allowed to happen, as the animals who lived in this house, though strange to him, seemed not to be hostile to him in any way.  Fleur washed Blackie from nose to tail, seeming to the black snow leopard to wash parts of him he hadn’t before known existed.  Once he was washed, fleur called to Pepper, who came in to the bathroom to rub Blackie down.  While the water was changed in the bathtub, with Blackie looking on in amazement, pepper was filled in on the events of the past hours by fleur, who seemed to Blackie to be pepper’s mother.  Once the bathtub was full again, Blackie was asked to get into it, and once he was there, pepper got in and began to massage Blackie from nose to tail.  Blackie, feeling this to be the strangest day he’d ever had since his birth, complied with everything pepper asked of him, giving her his paws, rolling over when she asked, and trying to relax, which wasn’t hard.  Once pepper had, to Blackie’s dismay, finished his massage, fleur and Pepper led him from the water and, together, dried him off thoroughly.  Once this was done, Blackie ate some more food, and then slept a little.  Throughout all this, Whitie was never far off, listening to all that went on.  When Blackie felt he was up to it, Fleur checked the black coated, white spotted snow leopard over from nose to tail, missing no part of him.

      “What’s the verdict?”  Blackie asked, already feeling a lot better than he’d done in a long time.

      “Nothing wrong, apart from a bit of weight loss and fatigue,” fleur said, “otherwise, you’re fine.”  Blackie looked at Whitie, who’d heard all.

      “Whitie, can we talk alone?”  He asked.  Whitie smiled and took his paw.

      “Come with me,” she purred, leading Blackie to her private space.  There, among rugs and quite near an outlet of the air conditioning unit, the two snow leopards settled down together.

      “Whitie,” Blackie said, the toes of his forepaws linked, and almost white with tension, “I, I think I like you, love you almost.”

      “I’m beginning to think the same about you Blackie,” Whitie mewed, touching his nose with hers and hearing his sharp intake of breath as he felt her touch.

      “Whitie,” Blackie choked, struggling to maintain composure but feeling his control slipping, “I don’t know if I can touch you in the way you want!”

      “How does this feel?”  Whitie asked, crawling over the rug until she was pressed against Blackie, then she took him in her paws and embraced him tightly.  Blackie felt love for him in the touch of Whitie’s paws.  He lost control totally, weeping into her fur.

       “Is it a deal then?”  Whitie asked.  Blackie sniffed and scrabbled with his paws for Whitie’s tail, which she curled so he could take it in his forepaws.  He even managed to touch the toes and pads of Whitie’s right hind paw with his left hind paw while she held him in her forepaws.  Whitie, feeling the touch of Blackie’s paw on her toes and paw pads, smiled and said:

     “Take my hind paw in your paw Blackie, then, please, stroke it.”  Blackie did so, feeling Whitie’s forepaws working over him while he stroked her right hind paw.  Curled together, the two snow leopards remained like this for some time.

      “You are the most tactile female snow leopard I’ve ever met Whitie,” Blackie mewed, licking Whitie’s ear.

      “I have to be that way,”  she replied, “I can’t see you to know your feelings, so touch is how I find out how you feel towards me.”  Blackie knew what Whitie was saying, she didn’t need to spell it out for him.

      “You wouldn’t want to see me anyway,” he mewed, “you’d hate how I look I’m sure.”

      “I know I am named Whitie because of my almost white coat devoid of spots,” Whitie mewed, “so I guess you’re named Blackie because your coat is black, presumably with white spots?”  Blackie gulped hard.

      “Yes Whitie,” he sniffed.

      “Let me hug you and kiss your nose and paws,” Whitie mewed, doing just that.  Blackie felt Whitie’s paws, strong and reassuring as they held him.

     “I was able to see a little for a couple of weeks,” Whitie mewed, “so I know black and white.  I know how you look, and I love you all the more for it Blackie.”

      “Teach me Whitie!”  Blackie pleaded, “Teach me how to give you pleasure by touch!  I want, indeed need to know!”  Blackie blurted, desperate he might lose Whitie because he couldn’t show his love for her in a way she could understand.  He could tell her he loved her, but that wasn’t enough.

      “You don’t need to be taught how,” Whitie mewed, “just touch me, and I’ll know how you feel Blackie.”  Closing his eyes, Blackie ran his paws all over Whitie’s body, from her nose to the end of her tail, feeling her reacting to his touch.  When he touched her nose, she nuzzled his pads, and when he touched the soles of her paws, Whitie pressed her paws into his, curling her toes and gripping his tenderly.

     “I’m yours from my nose to the tips of my toes,”  Whitie mewed, “Blackie, explore me as much as you like, take your time, find out about every one of my whiskers, every one of my paw pads and toes, stroke and tickle my paws and belly, find out about every inch of me from my nose to my tail.”

     “Thank you Whitie,” Blackie sniffed, feeling the toes of her left forepaw enveloping those of his right.  Whitie snuggled up to her mate, knowing she loved this black snow leopard from the minute she’d met him.

     “From the minute my paws touched your fur,” Whitie said to Blackie, “I knew we were made for each other Blackie.”  Blackie kissed Whitie’s nose.

      “I want to give birth to your cubs!”  Whitie mewed.  A quickly suppressed giggle made them look round.  Bramble Arki and Kodiak’s cub, Holly’s cub Panja and Ahanu stood in the doorway, openly watching and listening to them.  Whitie could smell the cubs, and knew who was who.

      “You three should not be watching us!”  She snarled.  Ahanu, taking fright, ran off, whereas the polar bear cross and Panja stood in the doorway.

      “You like the black monster then?”  Bramble asked, “That’s what we call him you know, some of us cubs that is.  The black monster!  He’s horrid!”  Blackie growled deep in his throat, then, before Whitie could stop him, he’d launched himself at the cubs!  Panja was quick enough to evade Blackie, but Bramble wasn’t, and Blackie’s full weight landed smack on top of her!  Bramble screamed as she collapsed beneath the weight of the black snow leopard!  Arki, hearing her cub’s scream came running to investigate, and Blackie challenged her, quickly backed up by Whitie!  Arki knew the blind female snow leopard was a force to be reckoned with, and left it, pleading with the two snow leopards to leave her cub alone.  Bramble meanwhile lay sobbing beneath Blackie’s forepaws.

      “You do not call me a black monster and get away with it!”  Blackie yelled.  He cuffed bramble across her nose, the polar bear cross bred cub whimpering with pain and misery.  Arki dragged bramble away, while Blackie and Whitie turned their attention to Panja, who was beginning to wish he’d run with Ahanu.

      “You are a disgrace!”  Whitie yelled at Panja, the half grown male cub seeming to wither before her.

      “If I hear you refer to me as a black monster again, I’ll tear your ears off and break your paws!”  Blackie yelled at Panja.  Panja turned and fled!

     “Don’t go after him Blackie,” Whitie pleaded, “it’s not worth it.”  Blackie’s paws clenched in anger.

      “I’ve had enough of this!”  He snarled.  Whitie touched his paw, feeling how tense his toes were.

      “Come,” she mewed, “let’s try again.  I want you to stroke me forever!”

      “I want to stroke you too!”  Blackie sobbed, “But we can’t do what we want with cubs about, they ruined everything!”

      They ruined everything?”  Whitie asked, kissing Blackie’s nose “did they?”  Blackie felt a rush of emotion which started at the end of his tail, flowed into the soles of his paws and then up his back, ending at his head.  He enfolded Whitie in a huge hug, both leopards sinking down onto the rug entwined in each other’s paws.

      “Stroke me again Blackie!  Please!”  Whitie pleaded, gripping his paw with both of hers.  Blackie, his enthusiasm restored, began rubbing his mate down with all four of his paws, using everything he had, giving Whitie one hundred and ten percent.  Whitie purred and mewed with pleasure, letting Blackie run his paws over her body, from her nose to the pads of her paws, and from her ears to the end of her tail.  She pressed her paws into his as he stroked them, and wriggled with pleasure when he ran his paws over her back, working her paws into his at every opportunity she had.  Blackie purred gently as his and Whitie’s combined desire was satisfied, his purr becoming deeper as Whitie turned her large paws from receiving pleasure to giving it, rubbing him down as she’d been rubbed down, missing no part of him, Blackie thoroughly enjoying her attentions.  Whitie kissed Blackie’s nose and the pads of his left forepaw, Blackie smiling and returning her affection.

      “Blackie,” Whitie mewed, “please, don’t worry about your tactile skills any more, you are wonderful!  I loved every minute of that!”

      “It was lovely,” Blackie mewed, loving the feel of Whitie’s paws on his.  Whitie and Blackie lay in their den for a while longer, just enjoying the touch of paw pad against paw pad.  It was Whitie who got up first, shaking herself thoroughly from nose to tail.  Whitie led Blackie to the pool where she slipped into the water, Blackie following and taking hold of the end of her tail in his forepaws.  In this manner, they paddled round the pool.  Whitie laughed merrily as Blackie tickled her hind paws from time to time.  Blackie and Whitie were lazing about in the shallows when Blackie felt his left hind paw grabbed by something.  Screaming with fear, he whipped his paw away, staring in astonishment as fleur emerged from the water, grinning hugely.

      “You frightened me!”  Blackie yelled, secretly glad to see the cross bred cat.  Fleur, much of the cub she used to be still evident in her, smiled and hugged Blackie tightly.

      “I didn’t mean to scare you,” she mewed, “I was only playing with you.”  Blackie smiled, he liked fleur a lot.

     “That trick was the same one you played on us when you were a cub!”  Whitie remonstrated with fleur, but fleur and Blackie knew Whitie’s heart wasn’t in her criticism.  Blackie looked fleur over from nose to tail and liked what he saw.  He liked a cat to have fat paws, and fleur certainly had those.  She was also thick set, a real battering ram of a cat, some called her fat, but she was athletic with it all the same.  Whitie hugged fleur tenderly, showing her love for the cat that’d helped her so much in the past.  Fleur rolled into her back, waving her paws in the air for Whitie and Blackie to catch, which they did, each tickling the forepaw they held until fleur had beaten the water white with her hind paws and was weak from laughter.

      “That’s enough I think,” fleur mewed, withdrawing her paws and rolling onto her front once more.  Blackie and Whitie kept their paws in contact with Fleur’s, the large cross bred cat not minding their attention.

      “You two saved my life,” Blackie mewed, touching Whitie and Fleur’s paws in turn.

     “We are a gentle community,” fleur mewed, “it’s good to see you well on the road to recovery.”  Whitie smiled, knowing rescuing Blackie had ended up meaning more to her than did the usual rescue of a distressed creature.

      “Let’s go from here Blackie,” Whitie said, “and maybe fleur will show you the delights of the waterslide?”  Fleur grinned.  Blackie, ever trusting of his mate, followed Whitie up the slide, where they met Bianca and Ahanu.  Bianca, now an older cub, looked at fleur and the two leopards as they came up the slope towards her and Ahanu.

      “I remember when you and I first came up here,” Bianca said to fleur.  Fleur looked grim as she dragged the memory back from the depths.

      “I frightened you that day,” fleur mewed, “and I’m still upset whenever I think of that day.”  Bianca came forward and hugged fleur tenderly.

      “I was young then,” she mewed, “I didn’t know what the slide was, nor that if I was careful when riding on it, it was safe.  Now I know fleur dear.”  Blackie looked at the slide, much as Jespah had when he’d first seen it.  The snow leopard prowled about, looking down the closed and open topped slides, as well as stepping into the entrance areas to feel the water flowing past his paws.  Feeling the tug of the water, Blackie dug in his toes to stop himself from being carried away down the slide by the water, feeling using his claws for such a purpose would be the wrong thing to do.  The sound of heavy paws coming near announced the arrival of Raja and Rani, the two tigers wanting to ride the slides.  Kissing Rani on the nose, Raja got ready to slide, Rani watching for the green light and listening for the bell.  When the light went green and the bell sounded, Rani touched the pads of Raja’s left hind paw with the toes of her right fore and watched as her mate disappeared down the slide.  Minutes later, she went down hind paws first, lying on her back.  Blackie watched them, not knowing who they were, but marvelled at how bright their coats were.  Blackie looked down the open topped slide, and then threw himself down it!  Hurtling round bends and then being dumped into the water at high speed didn’t seem to phase the black leopard one bit.  Getting out of the water and shaking himself dry, the leopard trotted back to the top of the slide tower, repeating the performance once more.  Whitie listened to Blackie’s splashing and smiled to herself.  Once Blackie got bored with splashing about, he returned to Whitie, taking her paw in his.

      “I love you Whitie,” he mewed, kissing her nose and the toes of the paw he held, making Whitie purr with pleasure.  She kissed Blackie on his nose, the black male snow leopard smiling and nuzzling her ear.


Meanwhile, Raja and Rani, having ridden the closed slide, adjourned to the spar pool, where, once they were both in the water, they began to massage each other from nose to tail.  Raja found Rani had smaller paws than did he, but they were still gorgeously soft and warm.  She, as all tigers have, had five toes on her forepaws, and four on her hind.  Rani, her claws retracted, let her mate handle her paws, smiling with pleasure as he picked up each of her paws in his to examine it.  Rani curled her toes slightly, Raja massaging her pads and toes with infinite care and consideration.  When he’d finished his examination, Rani turned her attention to him, returning his love.  She loved every inch of ~Raja’s body, from his nose        to his paw pads.  Once she’d examined him as thoroughly as he had her, she led him from the water.  Padding along the passage which led to the main house, they passed fans blowing warm air which dried their coats, vents in the floor blowing warm air over and beneath their paws, drying them also.  Rani laughed as the warm air tickled her pads.

     “This is fun!”  She whooped, dancing on her toes so the air tickled her paw pads even more.  Raja laughed at his mate’s antics as he imitated her, making Rani laugh as she saw how she looked to him.

      “You silly thing!”  She laughed, swiping at Raja with the white toes of one paw, Raja grinning and catching her paw in his.

     “Tell me Raja dear,” Rani said, “did I really look as cubbish as you made me out to look?”  Raja smiled and licked her ear.

     “let’s go home,” he mewed, kissing Rani on her nose.  Rani playfully tickled the pads of Raja’s left forepaw as he raised it from the floor, the tiger laughing merrily curling his toes to catch Rani’s.  they walked out of the pool complex, both cats happier than they’d been for a long time.


Meanwhile, Blackie and Whitie made their way to the main house via the outdoor route.  The sun was high in the sky, and the paving stones outside the door were baking in the heat.  The two snow leopards found this out when they set paw on them, Blackie yelping with pain as his paw pads were burnt.  Whitie swore viciously, something which she rarely did, turned tail and fled for the pool!  Blackie followed her, grateful to get his paws onto cool tiles once more.  Plunging into the pool, the snow leopards swum round for a while, soothing their scorched pads.

      “Are you all right Blackie?”  Whitie asked.  Blackie, his paws still throbbing, replied that he was better now than he’d been five minutes ago.  Whitie took his left forepaw in hers and felt him flinch away as she touched his pads.

     “They are painful aren’t they,” she mewed, very upset.

     “Yes, they’re a little burnt,” Blackie mewed.

       “The weather’s exceptionally hot today,” snowy said, padding in from the passage which led to the lift up to the control room, “we’re seeing temperatures of thirty plus today.”  Blackie groaned in misery.

      “That’s horrid,” he mewed, “and now I’ve burnt my pads too, what a day!”  Snowy padded away to get fleur, who attended to Blackie’s burnt pads with cold water and soothing paw massage, being careful not to touch his burnt pads.  Blackie found the massage applied to the fur between his pads was just as pleasurable as when his whole paw was massaged, and it helped with the pain too.  While fleur was engaged in this, a huge tiger padded into the pool area.  Blackie stared at him, for he was huge!

     “Um, fleur?”  He asked, “I think, think you’d better look round, and quick too! There’s a bloody great tiger behind you, and he looks interested in us!”  Fleur smiled, having already scented Hop along.

     “I’m not worried,” she mewed.

     “But, but, he’s massive, and, and he’s got huge paws, and long claws too I’ll bet, that’s if he extended them!”  Blackie mewed, almost sobbing.  Whitie then did something which nearly sent Blackie over the edge!  Padding up to the huge tiger, she raised a paw and swiped at his whiskers!  Blackie withdrew his paw from Fleur’s and leapt to his feet, screaming for Whitie to be careful!  Then he saw something that so strange to him that he rubbed his eyes with one sore forepaw, even though it hurt to do so.  The tiger had apparently lain down, and allowed Whitie to tickle his belly and paws!

      “I’m going mad!”  Blackie thought, staring at his mate and the huge tiger playing together.

     “That’s Hop along,” fleur said to Blackie, “he’s gentle, really gentle!  He’s just come for his regular treatment that’s all.”

     “Regular Treatment?”  Blackie asked, “For what? How?  How would you treat a tiger like that!  He’s enormous!”

     “Like this,” fleur replied, going up to Hop along, the huge tiger giving her his left hind paw, the pads and toes of which she began to massage, the tiger closing his eyes and visibly relaxing as the massage had its age old affect.  Blackie stared IN astonishment at Hop along as the huge tiger began to purr with pleasure.

     “You must have the magick touch fleur,” Blackie mewed.

      “Not really,” fleur mewed, “come closer, take one of Hop along’s paws in yours and stroke it.”

     “Um, ah, no, no thanks, I, I’ll pass on that,” Blackie stammered, staring at Hop along, who opened his eyes and lazily waved a huge forepaw at him.

     “Come,” he purred, “I won’t hurt you.”  Blackie knew he would be offending the huge tiger if he didn’t go, but his paws wouldn’t take him, they seemed to be as heavy as lead.

      “Don’t be frightened,” Hop along mewed, “I won’t hurt you.”  Dragging himself out of the pool, Blackie shuffled across to the huge Bengal tiger who offered him his left forepaw.

     “Stroke my paw, please,” Hop along mewed.  Blackie took the tiger’s huge paw in his, Hop along’s paw soft and warm in blackish, the tiger’s pads rough and tough from years of use and no conditioning.  Blackie felt the weight of Hop along’s past in the touch of his paw, but didn’t ask.  It seemed Hop along also felt something of Blackie’s past, for the tiger looked at him with sudden empathy.

     “We have things in common you and I,” Hop along said to Blackie, gripping the toes of the black snow leopard’s paw in his.  Blackie kissed Hop along’s nose, the huge tiger’s eyes filling with tears.

     “We’re safe here Blackie,” Hop along said, “this is a wonderful place.”  Blackie smiled at hop along.

      “We are safe here,” he said, “but for you and me, it wasn’t always the case was it.”  Hop along looked grim.

      “No Blackie, it wasn’t always the case,” he replied.  Blackie released Hop along’s paw, the tiger reluctantly letting the leopard release it.

     “Let’s go home,” Whitie mewed, taking Blackie’s paw in hers.  Hop along got to his feet and watched the two vastly different leopards leave.

     “It’s said Whitie quite literally fell into Blackie’s life,” Hop along mused, “apparently she misjudged the leap from her tree and landed in a bush, under which Blackie was sheltering.”

      “An angel from the heavens for Blackie then,” Fleur mewed, “Whitie will look after him with all she has.”  Hop along liked Whitie a great deal.


Whitie and Blackie made their way to the outside door, Whitie sensing someone cowering in the corner made by the fence and the back wall of the house.  Blackie saw the creature that’d attracted Whitie’s attention and touched her paw.

     “It’s alive, but it looks like a ball of fur, a shaggy ball of fur!”  The supposed ball of hair made its way towards the large cats, seeming to float over the ground as its feet were covered by long hair.  The hairball’s feet made a swishing sound as it approached, the creature’s claws, if it had any, kept from scratching the ground by the hair covering its toes, or maybe it could retract its claws, Whitie didn’t know.  The strange creature with the soft padded paws stopped beside Whitie and her mate.  Blackie then noticed the strange thing before him seemed to have no eyes, or none he could see, though it didn’t seem to be blind.

      “I wonder, could you direct me to a place of safety?”  The strange creature asked.  Whitie touched the creature’s paw; it was soft, warm and very hairy.

      “Here is safe,” she mewed, curling her toes round the newcomer’s and feeling its positive reaction to her touch.  The newcomer had claws, non retractable claws, but it still enjoyed having its paw taken in Whitie’s.  The dog, for it was a dog, lay down and gave Whitie its paw, the female snow leopard massaging the dog’s pads and toes.

      “What are you?”  Whitie asked.

     “My name’s Bess, I’m an old English sheepdog bitch,” the dog replied.

       “You’re welcome here,” Whitie mewed, knowing Theo wouldn’t turn Bess away.

      “You’re very confident Bess,” Blackie mewed, “you strode right up to Whitie and gave her your paw as if you’d known her for years.  How did you know she would not do you harm?”

      “I could tell,” Bess replied, “I don’t know how I knew, I just did.”  Blackie then spoke of his other fear.

     “You seem to have no eyes Bess!”  He blurted.  Bess and Whitie began to laugh, both of them rolling on the warm paving stones and waving their paws in the air.  Whitie had read about all kinds of animals, so knew what an Old English sheepdog was said to look like, namely a massive bundle of hair.  She also knew the dog’s eyes were covered by hair, hiding them from view, the hair in no way impairing the dog’s sight.

     “I have eyes, of course I do!”  Bess laughed, regaining her paws and helping Whitie to hers.  Blackie watched this, sensing something else in their relationship.

      “You two know each other,” he mewed, “you’ve met before!”  Bess smiled at Whitie and squeezed her paw.

      “We have,” she said, “but that’s a long tale.”

     “I’ve got all day,” Blackie said.

      “Bess has been precious to me for many years,” Whitie mewed, “ever since I could roam alone she’s been there for me.”

     “How long have you known each other?”  Blackie asked.

     “Ever since Blanche’s death,” Whitie mewed, “I’ve wandered alone, and much before that too if the truth be told.”  Bess smiled at Whitie and kissed her on the nose.  Blackie smiled at Bess, the sheepdog padding towards the house.  Bess met Theo by the back door, the lion hardly giving her a second glance as she went inside.

     “That dog’s a bit presumptuous isn’t she?”  Blackie asked Theo.

      “Bess has been around for ages,” Theo mewed, “she’s kept herself out of the gaze of the community until now, meeting Whitie outside the boundaries of the property.  Now though, as she’s homeless herself due to things she can’t control, mainly human’s things, she’s come to stay with us.

     “How long have you known about Bess’s existence?”  Whitie asked.

      “About as long as you have my dear,” Theo mewed.  Theo, Blackie and Whitie returned to the house, finding Bess being bathed by fleur.  Fleur vigorously worked shampoo into Bess’s long hair, the sheepdog enjoying the big cat’s attention.  When fleur came to massaging Bess’s paws, the sheepdog gave herself up totally to Fleur’s ministrations, concentrating on nothing else.  Fleur examined Bess from her nose to her white paw pads.  Bess had a white face, forelegs and neck, a black body and hind legs and white fore and hind paws.  Her black fur was flecked with grey and to fleur; Bess was one of the most beautiful animals she’d ever seen.  Fleur mischievously tickled the toes of Bess’s left hind paw, the sheepdog curling them to trap Fleur’s and hold them.  Fleur brought her other forepaw into play and tickled the pads of the paw holding hers and Bess, laughing helplessly, released her.  Bess tickled Fleur’s pads and toes with the toes which held Fleur’s a second ago, making fleur smile.

     “Tactile are we Bess?”  She asked.  Bess smiled and reached up with her forepaws to touch Fleur’s nose.  Fleur blew on Bess’s pads, the sheepdog smiling broadly at her.  Once Bess was washed thoroughly from nose to tail, fleur led her from the bathroom, to where Whitie waited with a towel to dry her off.  Bess lay down on the towel, while Whitie wrapped it round her and used the corners to dry each of her paws, something Bess enjoyed hugely.  Once Bess’s body and paws were dry, she got to her feet and followed Whitie to the living room, where they found Rupert and Sally chasing each other in an attempt to catch each other’s tails, and once done, to catch hold of each other’s hind and forepaws, before tickling those paws until the two cubs could laugh no more.  Bess watched as Sally brought Rupert down, and launched a friendly attack on his paws, Rupert loving every minute of sally’s attention.

     “That reminds me of when my pups used to play,” Bess said sadly, “they used to play those games.”  Whitie touched Bess’s paw:

      “Please,” Whitie said, “Bess, would you tell me about your life so far?”  Whitie couldn’t see the pained look on her friend’s face, but she felt Bess’s turmoil.

      “If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine,” Whitie mewed.

      “I must tell someone,” Bess said, “and you have a right to know Whitie, for you rescued me from a lonely existence.  Let’s go somewhere private, and there I will tell my tale.” 


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Martin Wilsher © 2006


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