Curled up in the middle of the pile of puppies was a black one with paws that looked a size too big for his body. He felt safe and warm with his brothers and sisters. As they slept, they all rose and fell with the gentle breathing of the puppy next to them. Up and down they went, breathing as if they were one. As they lay close to their mother they could feel her soft heart beat.
Every now and then, one or other of the sleeping puppies would wriggle, squirm and give a little squeak, and the mother would bend down her head and lick his ear with her big, long, pink tongue, or give him a gentle nudge with her cold, wet nose. That let them know that she loved them. Her brown eyes were as soft as butter when she looked at them and now and again she breathed a big shuddery sigh of contentedness.
The black puppy had a heart as big as his paws. It skipped a beat with excitement when he saw people. His tail would wag and his bright eyes would shine. But his big paws were a problem. They always got in the way, didn’t move as fast as his heart and body, and he would fall, head over heels, landing paws in the air and feeling very foolish.
The children who lived in the house chose names for the puppies. They named the black puppy’s brother with the tan circle around one eye, Patch. Another puppy was speckled with black dots on her white fur. They called her Spotty. The sweet little white puppy they named Snowy. Soon there was only one puppy without a name.
“I wonder what my name will be?” thought the black puppy with the big paws.
“Daddy, what should we name the black puppy?” asked the boy named Jack.
“What about Brutus?”
“Brutus?” asked Jack.
“It means heavy and slow and a bit foolish,” said the father.
“That would be the perfect name for this clumsy black puppy,” said Jack with a laugh.
In a nearby town lived a girl who more than anything else in the entire world loved to dance. She didn’t have many friends because when she wasn’t at school, she practised ballet steps over and over for hours.
Her dream was one day to be a ballerina. She would stand in front of the big mirror in her room, toes turned outwards, back straight as could be, and practice.
She was as graceful as a fawn and her neck was as long and elegant as a swan’s. She had big, gentle eyes that looked much too big for her small white face that was framed with long dark hair.
One day the little ballerina came home from school. She threw down her backpack in the hallway and went into the kitchen. Her mother had just come home from work and was making a cup of tea. The kettle made a bubbling sound as the water began to boil.
“Hello Sweetheart “said the mother, “How was school?”
“Okay Mom, thanks,” said the girl, wondering what she could hear over the sound of the kettle. She strained to hear. It sounded like a herd of horses galloping around in the next room.
“Mom, what is that sound?” she asked.
When the door opened, Brutus skidded to a halt in surprise. He had been chasing his tail without success and papers knocked from the coffee table lay scattered all over the floor.
He looked up and his heart skipped a beat. The softest eyes next to his mother’s were looking down at him with delight. The girl was tall and skinny and straight and he noticed her feet right away. They pointed outwards as she stepped towards him. He loved her graceful feet.
He started to run to her, tripping over his big paws as he did so.
Her laugh sounded like music to his ears as she scooped him up in her arms.
“His name is Brutus,” said her mother, who was watching from the doorway and smiling.
“Do you like him? He was the last puppy left at the farm down the road."
“Brutus, I love you!” the girl laughed, giving him a big kiss on the nose, “Mom, thank you!”
Brutus knew that he belonged with her. She had grace enough for both of them and he would be the best friend in the world to her.
“You make the perfect pair,” said her mother, “Brutus and the ballerina.”