Nobody knows when and how the Rat arrived in our family. He might have been a leftover from some garage sale or some kid might have left him behind and we were never able to determine who the owner was. He was the only rodent in our large and very diverse crew of stuffed animals. When he first arrived, perhaps the rest of the animals didn't treat him quite as he expected. I am sure he felt lonely and marginalized. Especially by the puppies who always seem to get most affection and attention of humans and admiration of other animals. He was usually so very quiet, some animals assumed that he was either really stupid or he couldn't talk. They were very wrong about both.
The first time we saw him wearing a claw-made white 'coat' speckled with large black spots, sporting a bright red collar we were actually amused. He looked nothing like the Dalmatian puppies, for it was obvious that he was a rat! At least it was obvious to humans. The stuffed animals, however, are not humans and their brains are filled with, well, stuffing... they forget so easily and one can't really expect them to be display much intelligence or even common sense. They all humored the Rat's antics and let him play this strange game of charade.
Then, one day, the Rabbit woke up with one of his eyes missing. The next day the Dolphin's fin was gone! One by one, the animals were maimed and nobody knew how it happened or who's done it. Instead of songs and sounds of joyful playing, fear and suspicion descended on the animals. Nobody knew who they should trust. The rat, suddenly quite outspoken, turned out to be very smooth with words and exhibiting the type of intelligence that left most animals in dizzy daze. He insisted he should be appreciated and admired despite the fact that he was different. He was also very emphatic that everyone should trust and not question his loving motives and intentions since, as is the common knowledge, all animals belonged to the same owner. Some animals shook their head in agreement, for indeed the words were familiar and sounded right. But, nobody seemed to be able to escape the feeling that something was terribly wrong and not a single animal was able to put their paw on it.
The carnage continued night after night and soon there was hardly an animal left without a limb missing. Some, like the Old Horse were ripped open with his stuffing strewn around the room like out-of-season snow. As the time marched on, there remained only one question in the feeble stuffed animal's minds:
Who is going to be next?
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Acts 20:28-30