The dog and the cat were friends. It may sound like an unusual pairing, but for them it made sense. The dog, although quite old, was very much like a puppy. He loved to play and, when bored, would do anything to draw attention to himself. He was goofy, but knew it to be so. And somehow that made it OK – it made him endearing. He had a serious side as well though – it wasn’t always fun and games. The mice made sure of that.

The dog was white with a brown patch across his eyes – and big floppy ears. Many a bitch thought him cute, but he didn’t really accept that. The mice didn’t like him at all – thought him to be a troublemaker, a fool and a threat. The rats didn’t though.

The cat, oh she was lovely. She wasn’t as cool as most cats though she aspired to be. She was the kind of cat that would gracefully walk a fence, but then lose her footing resulting in a near-fall experience. She was rather clumsy. She was a focused feline, but would sometimes be caught pouncing on things that weren’t there and roaming a room with her eyes – lost in a world of imaginary prey. But it never lasted long – she could refocus pretty quick, though she did enjoy those moments of escape; her dreamlike state.

Cat was black and shiny and could’ve been sleek and slinky were she not a silly fluffball. The rats loved that she was dark yet fluffy. The mice, however, thought her something of a mystery. To them, she was intimidating and so they were always trying to catch her in a moment of weakness.

The dog and the cat had one special bond that brought them together and surpassed all else – the rats and the drains. The dog cared for the rats. He felt sorry for them as they were left to fend for themselves in the drains while the mice enjoyed a life aboveground, running free through fields of the greenest of grass and gorging on the finest of grains. Their nests were huge and growing.

The mice cared only for themselves and, because they didn’t see the rats, they didn’t care. Sure, they’d see a rat scurry past every now and again, looking pretty rough, sometimes diseased, certainly malnourished and a bit smelly, but once out of sight – out of mind.

Through attention-seeking behaviour, the dog tried to raise awareness of the rats’ plight, but the mice didn’t care. And if they did, they didn’t show it. They cared only for their nests and families and growing these into something bigger and better in the hope it would make them happy. But they weren’t happy, so they blamed the dog for drawing their attention to unhappy things and told him to go away and leave them alone – again and again.

So the dog sought solace in helping the rats himself. He just wanted them to be able to leave the drains and enjoy their own rightful place in the land of plenty above.

The cat, she cared for the rats too, but was more concerned about their home. The actions of the mice were impacting on the rats’ homes in the drains. The mice were wasting food because they had too much and, instead of working out how to give it to the rats, they were simply throwing it away. The huge nests the mice were building were causing all sorts of problems. Each day the materials they were using grew stranger and stranger, generating a lot of waste – waste they just dumped down the drain. And of course the mice loved to breed so there were babies galore. Their community was growing.

The mice didn’t really understand the rats. Mice hated water and didn’t understand the rats’ fascination for living in it.

The dog wanted to help the rats by taking power off the mice and giving it to the rats. The cat wanted to help the rats by encouraging the mice to respect their habitat, share it with the rats – now and tomorrow.

The cat and the dog would bicker about what was more important, but mostly they were thankful they had each other to learn from, to inspire and to excite.

One day dog and cat were walking along (if by walking you can count dog biting cat’s fluffy tail and cat pawing dog’s floppy ears – with an intermittent roll and pounce every few steps). They were having a good day, a good play. Their frolicking stopped when they saw a huge sign showing a rat locked up in a cage. The sign said:

By order Mouse Town Clerk

The cat started weeping and snuggling up to the dog for comfort. The dog started snarling, baring his teeth – the drips of saliva blending with the cat’s tears to form a pool of disbelief.

The cat continued to cry. Her tears kept flowing – they wouldn’t stop. Her love made the pool of disbelief turn into a pond of hope.

The dog grew angrier and angrier. His drool kept dripping – it wouldn’t stop. His hate made the pond of hope turn into a river of fury.

The cat and the dog stood together at the bank of the river. The cat said to the dog, “You fought and fought and never gave up. Your anger had its place. Now this river here has carved up the green grass plains of the mice, making it difficult for them to be powerful. You have won.”

The dog said to the cat, “Your calm and sensitivity helped me channel my anger into the right areas. The mice have seen for themselves the sort of devastation that can happen when they don’t look after mother nature. You have won.”

Then they looked at each other and realised the rats were still underground.

“Oh no! We have failed!” they said simultaneously.

They embraced for comfort. The cat felt for her big silly puppy and shed one more single, solitary tear – a drop of compassion. The dog felt for his fluffball and snarled one more time, dripping one more drop of drool – a drop of understanding.

Those two final drops were enough to turn the furious river into a tranquil lake.

The dog and the cat released their embrace to watch rats by the thousands venture out of the drains and explore the lake.

The dog and cat, finally at peace, walked away leaving behind them baby rats frolicking with baby mice on the banks of the lake – Lake Unity.

(Thanks to ‘Comrade Luke’ for inspiration)

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