Written by Diana Cooper.
As Tara sat on her swing stroking Ash-ting, her little grey kitten, his ears pricked up suddenly.
‘What is it Ash-ting?’ she asked, for they could talk to each other but she was the only person who could hear him.
He frowned. ‘There’s a puppy in danger.’ Then he stood up and turned his head as if listening for something.
‘Where?’ Tara stood up too ready to run to the puppy’s rescue.
Ash-ting sighed. ‘His owners have abandoned him. Oh no! They’ve left him by the side of the road and driven away. And he’s hurt his paw.’
Tara knew her kitten was psychic and could see things even from a distance that others couldn’t.
‘Where is he?’ she demanded again.
‘On the embankment of the road on the other side of the wood.’
Tara slumped suddenly. ‘I’m not allowed to go that far on my own. What can we do?’ Ash-ting was still listening. ‘The puppy’s crying,’ he muttered. ‘He needs help.’
Tara made up her mind. ‘I’m going to see if Mum or Dad will come for a walk with me.’ She flew inside but came out a few minutes later shaking her head.
‘Try your Granny,’ suggested Ash-ting.
‘Good idea.’ Tara ran inside again to phone her Granny. A few minutes later she emerged with a beaming smile. ‘Yes,’ she told Ash-ting. ‘I can go straight down there and Mum says I can walk along to her house on my own.’
‘First ask the Angel of Animals to look after the puppy,’ reminded the kitten and Tara shut her eyes for a brief second and asked the angels to protect him. ‘Bring your backpack and some water and food for him.’ The little girl nodded and packed her bag. ‘Ash-ting you’ll show us the way, won’t you?’ she whispered and smiled as he raced down the road in front of her to her Granny’s house.
Granny loved going to the woods with Tara though she was a bit surprised how quickly the child was walking. ‘Slow down and enjoy the trees. We’re not on a mission!’ she laughed. But they were and the little girl was almost running. What if the puppy had been run over or run away or………She forgot for a moment that she had asked the angels to look after him.
Suddenly they heard a meow and there was Ash-ting above them on a low branch. ‘Oh my!’ exclaimed Granny. ‘He must have followed us.’
Tara smiled as he jumped down beside her. She picked up the little furry bundle. ‘You want me to carry you, do you?’
‘Meow,’ he agreed. Then he added, ‘Follow this path to the end and then we are nearly there. Can you hear the puppy whining?’
Tara stopped to listen. She could hear a faint whimper. ‘Granny. I can hear an animal crying. Listen.’
They stood still and listened. ‘Oh yes,’ said Granny distressed. ‘It sounds like a puppy. Oh dear, perhaps it’s lost. We must look for it.’
‘Now take the path to the left,’ whispered Ash-ting so Tara said, ‘I think it’s this way,’ as she half dragged Granny along the path to the left. ‘Oh let’s hurry.’
‘Slow down dear,’ panted Granny.
They could hear the puppy more clearly now. ‘We’re getting nearer,’ exclaimed Tara excited. The path was getting narrower and was overgrown in parts but they battled their way through.
They could hear a lorry lumbering along the road and Tara’s heart thumped. ‘Hold on puppy. We’re coming,’ she called aloud. Then whispered, ‘Angel of Animals please please look after him.’ And she crashed through thorny brambles tearing her jeans.
‘Very near now,’ whispered Ash-ting. ‘He’s there at the bottom of the embankment slope.’
Tara spotted the little black dog cowering in the grass, whimpering in pain and fear.
‘Over there Granny,’ cried Tara. ‘Oh look at him. He’s so tiny.’
‘The poor wee thing. But how are we going to get to him?
There was a tangled wilderness of brambles between them and the dog. Tara looked at it in despair.
‘We’ll have to go to the end of this path where it meets the road and then walk along the tarmac and climb down the bank to him,’ Granny decided.
It seemed for ever but it only took five minutes to reach the road and half walk half jog along it. The bank was very steep. ‘I’ll go down,’ said Tara to Granny. ‘You hold Ash-ting.’
‘I think that would be best,’ Granny agreed relieved. ‘But do be careful.’
‘The puppy has hurt its paw. It’s bleeding. And he’s very thirsty and hungry,’ Ash-ting buzzed to Tara. ‘And he’s very frightened so approach him very slowly.’
‘I will,’ responded Tara impatiently. She had already slithered half way down the slope. The puppy gave a tiny growl as she approached and tried to limp away. Tara opened her bag and took out a biscuit, then poured some water into the little bowl she had brought. Then she sat very quietly.
Granny was startled. ‘It’s as if Tara knew about the puppy before we came out,’ she thought. ‘How very odd!’
The little girl made soothing sounds while Ash-ting spoke telepathically to the puppy, telling him it was safe to go to Tara. At last the puppy took the biscuit and then drank thirstily.
Soon he let Tara pick him up gently and cuddle him. He was very small.
‘You’re safe now,’ Tara kept repeating softly.
Getting up the slope holding the little puppy proved more difficult than she thought but Tara was determined and at last they reached the road.
‘Well done Tara,’ whispered Ash-ting.
‘Well done Tara,’ Granny congratulated her. ‘Oh he’s not really old enough to leave his mother. So tiny.’
‘He’s so cute,’ Tara played gently with the puppy’s soft floppy ears.
‘He’s mostly spaniel,’ Granny looked at the little animal carefully. ‘He’s cut his paw and he may have sprained the other foot. Come on let’s get him cared for.’
They started to walk back home.
‘Can we keep him?’ asked Tara.
‘No dear. We’ll take him to the rescue centre,’ replied Granny.
‘No!’ Tara was horrified. ‘Perhaps Mummy will let me keep him when she sees how gorgeous he is.’
‘I don’t think so. Jack’s allergic to dogs and I can’t have a dog with my cat,’ Granny replied seriously.
‘Ash-ting what can we do?’ Tara whispered desperately.
‘Your Mum won’t let you keep him but tell your Granny that her cat may be happy to accept the puppy and it would be worth trying it.’
So Tara suggested that to Granny who smiled at her eager face and looked thoughtful.
Granny carried the puppy and Tara carried Ash-ting as they walked slowly home.
‘I wonder what to call him,’ asked Tara.
‘How about Tony,’ suggested Granny. ‘We had a corgi called Tony when I was a child.’
‘No!’ Ash-ting buzzed into Tara’s head. ‘It’s very important to give an animal the right name. I’ll ask him what he wants to be called.’
There was silence for a moment and then the kitten continued, ‘His name’s Oscar.’
‘He’s called Oscar,’ Tara said firmly and Granny responded. ‘Oscar. That’s nice and he certainly is beautiful.’ She stroked his soft silky fur gently. ‘Perhaps we’ll introduce him to my Tabby and see how they get on.’
‘Yes!’ shouted Tara so loudly that Granny nearly dropped the puppy.
Granny opened her front door and carried Oscar into the kitchen to find him some food and tend to his paw. When Tabby appeared she looked horrified to find Ash-ting and a strange puppy in her kitchen. She was about to hiss at the little dog but Ash-ting talked to her telepathically. The old cat listened for a long time and then nodded reluctantly.
Tara who was watching them both suddenly knew everything would be alright. She stroked Tabby and said, ‘Good girl. You’ll really enjoy having a puppy in the house.’
Tabby gave a faint rather disgusted miaow.
‘What a morning,’ said Granny. ‘You’d better run home for lunch now Tara and tell the family about Oscar.’
‘Okay,’ replied Tara happily, ‘But can I come back with Ash-ting this afternoon to play with him?’
Granny laughed and said of course she could.
‘Bye little dog.’ Tara stroked him before she left and Oscar licked her hand gratefully.