by Robert Winter

She was the perfect bitch...

Paulina Stark savored the idea, the corners of her mouth turning up slightly as her incisors closed on a chocolate mint cookie.  She paused briefly, then reached again into the half-empty bag before her on the patio table.

Paulina was a woman who had long since given up any pretense of concern about her weight.   In a way, she was even secretly glad of it.  The excess poundage draped over her like a rhinoceros' thick protective mantle, making her appear massive, formidable, clearly somebody to be reckoned with.

Yes, the perfect bitch...

Beyond the patio, on a well-tended lawn surrounded by steeply sloping banks of ivy, the object of Paulina's thoughts moved about gaily in the morning sun.  At eighteen months, Kasha Nadina al Ishtar was emerging into as flawless a specimen of the female Afghan hound as Paulina, with all her years of show ring experience, had seen.

Kasha's dark, infinitely liquid eyes looked out from beneath a luxuriant coat whose color brought to mind the Biblical phrase, "flowing with milk and honey."   Beneath the rich coat, Kasha's limbs moved with a supple grace that made her appear almost to float.  Yet despite her exquisite appearance and a regal pedigree, Kasha retained the simple, outgoing abandon of a happy dog.

Paulina's gaze shifted to the borders of the yard.  Although she had a substantial fence of masonry and ironwork, shoulder high, she needed to be especially watchful these days.  Kasha had come into season.