Still excited from the morning's visit to the Foxworths, the pups were in high spirits as they set out with their extended family to work the streets. Today the gang split into two groups to work, Dodger and Rita took Bandit, Robbie and Lily with them and the two littler ones, Nicky and Dash set off with their uncles. Francis was very relieved that he didn't have to look after Robbie again, as he could be such a pest. Tito was a little disappointed for the same reason.
Lily was an excellent student and took great pleasure in learning from watching her parents, she was very happy to be spending the afternoon with them, even if Robbie and Bandit did have to come along as well. She had become something of a star pupil as she was such a fast learner, she was especially keen to follow Dodger's example as she looked up to him a lot. The two boys were more easily distracted and Rita had to keep a watchful eye on them in case they wandered off.
While Lily and Bandit paid close attention to their father, Robbie was amusing himself with a muddy puddle, which he was greatly enjoying running through and jumping in. He suddenly had the feeling he was being watched- by someone other than his mother that is- and turned around to see a female puppy creeping up towards him, making him jump. As the stranger approached, Robbie made an attempt to get rid of her, by splashing her with the muddy water and barking impressively. The stranger squealed and ran away, and Robbie felt rather pleased with himself. That was, until the other puppy came running back and jumped into the puddle herself, getting Robbie very wet.
"Mom! There's a girl!" Robbie sounding completely disgusted.
"She looks nice enough, why don't you play with her." Rita replied, having been watching them from a little distance.
Robbie looked over at the stranger who was now rolling about on her back in his puddle.
"But I'm a boy..." He couldn't believe that his mother wanted him to play with a girl, playing with his sisters was one thing, but some strange puppy was an entirely different matter. Robbie went over and hid behind Dodger, and started listening to pick pocketing tips.
The stranger didn't seem at all fazed by the rejection and continued to play in her own company. She was rather fluffy, with ears that flopped all over the place. Her blue-grey fur had patches of tan and white and she had a tiny stumpy tail which was constantly moving. Now wet and muddy from head to tail, the puppy bounded over to where Robbie was standing. Lily did her best to ignore the newcomer, she was focussed on her father, and Robbie screwed up his nose and backed away.
Rita sighed, not wanting the stranger's feelings to be hurt. but felt somewhat relieved that her scruffy son clearly had not inherited Dodger's flirtatious ways.
Bandit was curious about the she-puppy and greeted her in a play bow, to which she responded immediately, jumping at him merrily.
"Hello! Do you want to be friends? You look fun!" the puppy said, or rather shouted, she was a rather loud child.
"Sure, if you can catch me!" Bandit made to get out of the way and invited her into a game of chase, and soon found himself dripping wet as the stranger had a habit of dragging him into puddles and splashing him.
It came time to move on, and Rita wasn't keen to leave the lone puppy behind.
"What's your name sweetie? Do you have any family around looking after you?"
The puppy stopped bounding around for a brief moment.
"My name's Halo. My daddy was looking out for me but I lost him a little while ago. I'm not scared of being on my own though."
Dodger came over to meet Halo, with the other two puppies following behind (Robbie still didn't look too sure). Halo squirmed around and jumped to give him a hug- and Robbie jumped back quickly.
"Do you want to come along with us until he finds you? I think Bandit might like that."
"Yes, please, please come Halo!" Bandit begged, tail wagging.
"Yay! More playing!" she said and went to introduce herself to Lily and Robbie.
As the family went through a row of bins in an alleyway, the puppies all played chase together. Robbie found it wasn't really too bad to play with a strange girl, especially as now she was most interested in playing with her new best friend, Bandit. Lily had a great time, as Halo could never quite catch her, and got rather cocky. Halo was not nearly as coordinated and tended to crash into things in her enthusiasm. Bandit was overjoyed with his new friend and even when the others had gotten bored, he play wrestled with Halo under Rita's watchful eye and eventually when he'd been exhausted by Halo's boundless energy, sat and talked with her.
It made Rita very happy to see her pups making friends. It was a relief to have something to take her mind off the morning's happenings. Lily was doing so well, it made Rita so proud to see her daughter working alongside Dodger so happily. She wondered how they'd ever cope when the time came for the pups to leave, and how they'd make sure the best thing for the puppies would be done.
Rita's thoughts were interrupted by Robbie's muffled cries, he'd managed to get his head and front legs stuck in a large discarded biscuit tin.
"Oh Rascal, what are you doing?" Rita laughed, and gently helped her son out. Robbie emerged licking his lips.
"I got the last biscuit Mom!" he announced proudly. Bandit and Halo looked very impressed, and sniffed eagerly for crumbs.
"Halo! I've been looking everywhere for you, what are you playing at?" came a deep voice.
Looking around, the family saw a thin Australian Shepherd, who was relieved to see his daughter safe and sound.
"Daddy!" Halo cried, rushing over and bounced up and down in front of her stressed father.
Bandit looked over his shoulder after his new friend, feeling unusually sad. He'd never had a special friend of his very own, and certainly had never met anyone quite as energetic and friendly as Halo, and although he was sure it wouldn't be the case, he felt a worry that he'd not see her again. He looked up to his mother walking alongside him, and couldn't help notice that she was looking a little sad too. Bandit walked closer and nudged Rita's leg with his muzzle.
"Are you OK honey? You know you're going to see her again, her dad's told me where they live, I'll take you to see her again soon."
"You promise, nothing to worry about?"
"I promise." Rita replied, and talking to herself as much as her son added softly, "Nothing to worry about at all."