Training Ground

Lou Menetti walked into the gymnasium, Brian trotting along at his side acting the role of a well-trained police dog. Lou knew perfectly well that Brian did it for the attention -- other cops in the K-9 training facility were all friendly with everyone's animals and all of the humans in the building carried bags of treats. The only time Brian misbehaved was when he was just jerking Lou's chain, playing a joke on him which he'd laugh about for the next month.

Tonight was their usual night off, but it was the first full moon since Yokas had signed up for K-9 duty. Lou had made arrangements for them to come in for her orientation -- easily enough done when the Captain was a werewolf, too, and understood about scheduling problems.

Glancing down, Lou told him sternly, "You set a good example, right?"

Brian blinked at him -- not nodding, because the other cops would pitch a fit if they thought Lou's dog could understand him that well. But Lou wasn't worried. Brian would do exactly as he was told, and appear to be nothing more than a well-trained police dog.

Because tonight Yokas was getting her orientation for working K-9, and Brian would do *anything* to show up Boscorelli. Brian was a good-natured and easy-going guy. Bosco, on the other hand, was sullen and stubborn. Qualities that in human form, didn't matter to Lou one way or another. But as a "dog" they were completely out of place.

Lou was looking forward to tonight's training. He spotted Yokas and Bosco immediately upon entering the multi-purpose court. There were basketball hoops at either end, and Lou and Brian had played basketball here before. Brian couldn't shoot from a four-legged position, but he was damned good at making sure Lou couldn't shoot, either.

"Hey, Menetti," Yokas greeted them as they walked over. Bosco was sitting beside her, and Lou could tell by the look on his face that he was pretending he didn't know why they were here.

"Yokas, good to see you." He held out a hand and she shook it; a good, firm grip. That, and the stories he'd heard, gave him the feeling that she'd be able to keep Bosco in line. "Let's get right to it, shall we?"

Yokas nodded, and Lou saw her glance down at her partner. Bosco was listening, but he was staring at the other end of the room -- at nothing, Lou knew. Well, he was Yokas' problem, now. All he had to do was train Yokas.

In a low voice, he began. "The most important thing to do when you're on patrol is make it appear as though your partner is a dog. The public is going to expect a police dog to be well-trained and smarter than the average house mutt. But you have to be careful not to forget that you're dealing with somebody who understands everything that's being said."

Yokas nodded. "So, talk to him like he's a five year old. I do that already." She looked down at Bosco, her voice and expression perfectly composed. Lou hid a grin as Bosco started to bare his teeth at her. Yokas just gave him an innocent look back.

Oh, yeah, this was gonna be fun. Lou kept his face straight as he told her the best part. "The easiest thing to do to help facilitate the illusion of doghood is to treat them like dogs. The way you talk, the way you interact with him... have you ever owned a dog?"

Yokas shook her head, but Lou could see a gleam in her eye. "A friend of mine growing up had a dog. I think I can fake it."

"Just let yourself be fooled by his appearance." Lou glanced down and rubbed Brian's head, naturally as though he were a dog, and not some guy who was gonna tease him for it in two more days. "Feel free to go the whole route -- scratch his ears, talk to him like he's a dog, offer him doggie treats when he's a good boy."

He watched as Yokas' eyes grew wide. The grin on her face when she looked at Bosco was frightening. Bosco stood up, fur on the neck rising and his teeth fully bared. He wasn't growling, which made him look all the more dangerous. He backed up as Yokas went down on one knee and put her hand on his head.

"Who's a good boy, then?" she said, and she sounded -- well, exactly perfect. Lou clamped down on a laugh; Brian needed no such restraint. His tail thumped the floor, hard as he could, as Bosco tried to disentangle himself from Yokas' hand which was gripping his fur. With the other hand she rubbed his head. "Such a good boy!" she crooned, and Bosco tugged harder to get away.

He looked a little desperate, and Lou almost felt sorry for him. Almost. Mostly he was trying not to choke on his laughter.

Grinning like a maniac, Yokas finally stood up and faced him. She let go of Bosco, and her partner leapt sideways away from her and shook himself, as though shaking off girl cooties.

Which, maybe he was, Lou thought.

"Like that?" she asked, calmly.

"Just exactly like that," Lou said, seriously as he could. He wished he could be there when Bosco had his next patrol in human form. Almost. He proceeded with the training, trying not to laugh. "I'm gonna teach you the commands all police dogs know, so you can use them properly. Bosco knows what to do when he hears the commands -- and he'll do precisely as he's told." Lou looked directly at Bosco as he said it. Bosco ignored him.

"He'll behave on the street," Lou continued, "because he knows anything he does to raise suspicions will endanger not only himself, and every other wolf in the city, but will get his ass suspended so fast the Captain won't have time to sign his name to the forms."

Bosco rolled his eyes -- but they both knew what he said was true. To Yokas, Lou said, "The basic commands are simple: sit, stay, come, wait. You can also use 'give' if you want, to make him give you whatever he's picked up. Don't use it if he's likely to pick up nasty things just to see if you'll hold out your hand for them." Lou grinned, and Bosco wrinkled his nose. Brian had only done that once, insisting that it was more disgusting to have something in your mouth than in your hand, anyhow.

Lou went on. "The commands the department uses for police work are for locating, tracking, and apprehending suspects. We have a find and bite policy -- which I'm sure Bosco loves. It means they get to bite the suspect and hold on, until told to back off by their handlers."

Bosco grinned, and Lou saw his tail thump the floor, once. Lou shook his head -- because Brian was just as happy as it.

"You'll typically be called in by other units to help search for drugs, guns, so on, or to track down someone who's disappeared. The other officers will be expecting you to act like the other K-9 handlers, so we're gonna go through some training, so you can tell Bosco what to do that won't raise their suspicions."

Yokas nodded, and they proceeded to go through the basics. Lou had her learn to give commands in a clear, sharp voice -- as though her partner was actually trained to do as he was told. She only had to stare down Bosco once, before he cooperated.

Lou watched as she moved around the gym, giving Bosco the command to sit, stay and come. She used a knotted rope to toss for retrieval, and gradually she relaxed into giving commands and even verbally rewarding Bosco when he did something right. Lou could tell by the look on Bosco's face that he was embarrassed as hell by it all -- despite the fact that the more Yokas rewarded him, the faster he completed the next command.

The 'search' and track commands weren't anything the needed to practise, as long as Yokas could give the commands properly. But Lou went to put on a bite suit, to let her learn how to handle the find and bite. He had a feeling Bosco was going to cooperate completely, at the sight of it.

Sure enough, when he finished suiting up, Bosco was all ears and intent on him. Lou had Yokas run through it with Brian, first, because Brian at least knew how to make it look real -- without doing anything that would earn him the privilege of buying lunch for a week.

Brian ran Yokas through the find and bite procedure until she was comfortable with the commands, sending the dog out to take down the suspect and holding him until called back. Then Lou looked at Bosco -- and unzipped the suit.

"No point in doing any more; we all know Bosco knows how to bite people."

Yokas laughed as Bosco looked stunned. He looked up at Yokas, then at Lou -- begging for the chance to take Lou down. Lou got the suit off, and shook his head. "You think I'm stupid, don't you?"

Bosco whined, a little. Yokas patted him on the head -- a little hard, it seemed to Lou. "Be good, and maybe we'll get you a bone from the butcher's."

She'd been kidding, Lou thought, but she'd said the magic words. Both Brian and Bosco were staring at her, eagerly. She looked at Lou. "I take it that's a good thing?"

"You have no idea." He sighed, shaking his head. "Beer in a bowl, and a bone to tear apart.... I'd save that for when he's been really good, like saving your life or not pissing on your carpet."

Brian jumped up on him, immediately, and Lou could tell he was trying to remind him that he hadn't peed on anything he wasn't supposed to, ever. And certainly not recently.

"Yeah, but you got your dog breath in my face," Lou told him, picking up his fore-feet and dropping them to the floor. Brian gave him the cute look, complete with those damnable puppy eyes, so Lou looked over at Bosco.

Bosco looked like he wasn't expecting any bones for the next twenty years. Lou raised an eyebrow at Yokas.

She shook her head. "Yeah, I bet you regret a lot right now, huh?"

They stood there for a moment, Lou wanting to see how Bosco was going to get out of trouble -- or if he'd bother. He raised an eyebrow, giving Yokas half a puppy-dog eyes look. Yokas put her hand on her hip. "I don't think so."

Bosco gave a very small whine. Yokas shook her head. There was a pause, then, to Lou's surprise, Bosco got down on his stomach, pressed his chin to his paws, and gave his partner the most pathetic puppy eyes Lou had ever seen.

It almost made *him* want to buy the man a bone. He looked at Yokas to see if she was falling for it. It didn't look like she was, and Lou began to relax. Then he saw it -- the moment when she started to cave.

Then Brian pounced on Bosco, knocking him onto his back. The spell safely broken, Lou and Yokas moved out of the way while Bosco wrestled his way free and tried to tear Brian's ear off -- while Brian tried to pin him down and, knowing Brian, lick Bosco's face like they were puppies.

Brian had been talking about all the best ways to drive Bosco up the wall, and they'd both agreed that that would just about do it. From the looks of things, Brian was about to find out how well it would work.

"You wanna go get something to drink?" Lou asked Yokas. "Let the kids play?"

"You aren't worried about Brian getting bitten?" She sounded concerned, and was frowning at the two werewolves rolling on the floor, oblivious to everything else.

"It's OK; he can bite right back."

Yokas thought about that for a moment, then slowly she smiled. "About damn time he had someone to play with." She turned, then, and they walked over to the other side of the gym, towards the vending area.

From the sound of it, neither Bosco nor Brian cared that they were leaving.

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