Here we go, third time's the charm! This next story is just going to be about Cadpig and Jake as they explore the big city of Topstown and interact with its denizens. And of course, Cadpig is once again going to get them in over their heads - in that ever-quirky, completely unique way that only Cadpig can!
Now for the obligatory legal disclamer: I don't own the rights to Cadpig (Wish I did!) or any of the other 101 Dalmatians characters, which belong to Disney. But Jake and any original characters are, naturally, my own.
"Topstown, sprawling metropolis of thirty-thousand souls. Regional capital of art, culture, business, and entertainment. A city unlike any other. What are we doing here, Cadpig?" Jake said as the two dogs stepped off the ferry.
"I thought it would be a good place for our next date," Cadpig answered.
Jake turned his head. "Why can't we just stay at the farm or go to Grutely? You know, like always."
Cadpig shook hers. "It's time for the annual Grutely amateur motor race. And I didn't want to be anywhere around when that happens. It causes too much pollution in our lovely atmosphere."
"But there isn't a car in Grutely that can go faster than ten miles per hour!"
"It's the principle of the thing."
Jake shrugged. "Okay, I guess. But where do you want to go?"
Cadpig smiled. "I don't know. I was thinking we'd just wander around and see what the city has to offer. Just take it all in! You know, it's been a long time since I've been here."
Cadpig and Jake walked down the dock and into the city itself. "I was born here," Cadpig said.
"What, here in the street?" Jake asked.
"No, not here here. In the city."
Cadpig sighed as she looked at Jake. He smiled sheepishly. She couldn't help but forgive him.
They walked through the streets of the city. It was a busy Sunday afternoon. All sorts of people were moving from here to there and from there to here. Cadpig and Jake nearly got lost in the large crowd. After nearly being kicked by an oblivious passer-by, Jake said, "Hey, Caddy, why don't we go to some place a little less crowded?"
"Sure," Cadpig said as she suspiciously eyed a hot dog cart whose products seemed less than edible. "I don't think this part of town is all that organic either. I'm sure someplace else must be better. I know, let's go see if we can track down some of my old friends!"
Cadpig led, Jake followed. Soon, they had come into a quieter part of the city. Here, everything seemed to be much more laid back. There were many more animals around, dogs and cats and birds and all sorts. But Cadpig did not seem to recognize any of them.
"Hm, things sure have changed since I lived here," Cadpig said. "I don't know any of these people."
All together, the animals ignored the new arrivals and continued on with their business. But over their chatter, the sounds of a loud argument could be heard. Raised voices were coming from a nearby alleyway.
Cadpig began to walk toward this commotion. Jake grabbed her shoulder with his paw. "It's not our business, Caddy. Let's just ignore it."
Cadpig rolled her eyes. "What? I wasn't going to interfere or anything!"
She then pulled her shoulder away and continued toward the alley.
"Since you never interfere in anything," Jake said hopelessly, knowing that the opposite was true.
In the alley, a small terrier dog and a large St. Bernard were about to come to blows. The Saint Bernard looked as though he could squash the little terrier, but the terrier was fiercely growling at him all the same.
"I am tired of seeing your big mug around here!" the terrier barked. "You take up all the good scraps of food and leave the rest of us with nothing!"
"What am I supposed to do?" the Saint Bernard answered. "They've put locks on all the dumpsters where I live! I need to get food from somewhere! And it's not like a puny pup like you could eat that much!"
"Oh, yeah?" the terrier said, "Well, it looks to me like you could use a diet! Maybe if you didn't come 'round here, you wouldn't be so fat!"
"Who you calling fat?"
"I think you know who! The dog who keeps eating all the food around here! Just leave it for us!"
As the two dogs were about to pounce at each other, Cadpig calmly stepped between them. She did not show any fear at all, as though she were not in the middle of a warzone. She just sat down serenely, right between the dogs.
"Hello," she said. "My name is Cadpig and I'll be your conflict mediator for today!"
"A what?" the Saint Bernard said. "Is that even legal?"
"You better get out of our way," the terrier said, "or we'll tear you apart too, lady!"
Cadpig smiled warmly. "You know, misplaced aggression will get you nowhere. If you just let go of your feelings of anger and hatred, you'll be able to grow into a happier, more mature individual."
"I won't be able to grow into nothing!" shouted the terrier. "Because he won't leave me any food! I'm skin and bones here!"
"Hey, you act like it's easy," the Saint Bernard said, "to be this big! Do you know how many calories I have to take in each day?"
"Take 'em in someplace else, buddy!"
The two now lunged at each other. Jake, who had finally made it to the alleyway, closed his eyes in dread as Cadpig was caught in the middle. But when he opened them, he saw that there was no reason to fear. Cadpig was holding both of them by the throats, her face displaying a look of subdued anger.
"Uh-uh," she said as she put them back down. "We will not have any violence here today. You have to learn to love one another if you ever want to solve your problems."
She then turned toward the terrier. "Mr. Terrier–"
"Joe," the terrier said.
Cadpig smiled. "Joe, your problem is that this dog here–"
"Maxwell," the Saint Bernard said.
"Maxwell," Cadpig said with a nod in his direction. "Maxwell is eating all of the available food, isn't that right?"
"You bet!" snapped Joe.
Cadpig turned toward Maxwell. "And Maxwell, your problem is that there is no available food where you live. Isn't that right?"
"Yes, ma'am," Maxwell answered.
"Okay then. The answer is simple."
"It is?" Joe and Maxwell said together, in surprise.
"Yep," Cadpig said, slowing nodding her head. "Maxwell, do you really need to eat all of the food? Wouldn't you be able to survive on less?
"I guess so," Maxwell said.
"Good. You should never be a slave to your hunger. You should control it, it shouldn't control you. It might do you some good to go on a diet."
"So there!" Joe shouted with a laugh.
But Cadpig turned toward him, and by the smile on her face he could tell that she wasn't finished. She said, "And Joe, do you really need all of the food around here? Isn't it too much for you and your friends to eat?"
Joe nodded. "Yeah, but–"
"Trying to horde something you'll never eat is both greedy and wasteful. You shouldn't do it. You should just take what you need and leave the rest for Maxwell. That way you can get your food and so can he. If you work together, there will be enough food for both of you."
Joe and Maxwell considered for a moment. Jake was certain that they would not accept Cadpig's suggestion. But Cadpig was equally certain that they would. Finally, Joe said, "You may have something there, lady. I'm willing to try it if Maxwell is."
Maxwell smiled. "Sure, I suppose I can give it a try. It's better than fighting all the time anyway."
Cadpig grinned. "There. Now the both of you can lead more productive, more fulfilling lives."
Joe and Maxwell shook paws to signify their new agreement. And suddenly, there was a noise of applause. Jake looked around him to realize that the whole crowd of animals had come to see what was happening. They all were clapping in appreciation of Cadpig's actions.
Cadpig smiled proudly as she walked back to Jake.
"I thought you weren't going to interfere," Jake said.
"That's not interfering, that's conflict resolution," Cadpig replied. "There's a difference."
"If you say so," Jake said, not really seeing where the difference was.
One of the animals, a female black cat, jumped down. "We never seen anyone capable of shutting those two up before! You're obviously not from around here. Say, girl, what's your name?"
"Oh, it was nothing," Cadpig said. "And my name is Cadpig."
This inspired another round of applause from the crowd, followed by cheering. Cadpig walked triumphantly through the grateful commotion. Jake walked beside her.
"All's well that ends well," Cadpig said.
"I have a feeling that this isn't going to end well," Jake answered.
"You worry too much," Cadpig remarked with a smirk. "Just try to lighten up. Everything's going to be just fine!"
"If you say so," Jake said again. He just did not believe it.
Cadpig did a good deed! But Jake isn't so sure that it was the right thing to do. Is he right in thinking this is going to backfire on them? What problems could doing a good deed possibly cause? Is our young heroine going to regret her well-meaning attempt to spread love and harmony?