The builders left after a while, thanking master for the coffee and I was very happy when each of them gave me a scratch on the way out. I had been in a buoyant mood this morning but now I was… what was that saying again? I’d heard Juan say it a few times… ‘happy as a sand boy?’ I didn’t really get what it meant, why did sand make a boy so happy?
Master an I had had our breakfasts and I followed him into his office, a steaming mug of coffee in his hand, people really seemed to like coffee, those builders had had the hot drink and master had at least three a day. I was curious as to what it tasted like, it must taste good if he had it so often.
Master sat down at his desk, looking through some papers and starting to type on his computer. I curled up on the bed in the corner, purring sleepily, my stomach wonderfully stuffed and I liked watching master work. Soon I found myself drifting off, my eyes on master even as I slipped into sleep.
Knocking at the front door roused me and I lifted my sleepy head, letting out a large yawn.
“Come on Luci, that must be Jared.” master pushed himself up and out of his chair, heading out of his office.
I quickly stretched before bounding after him, excitement getting rid of any lingering drowsiness. I danced on my toes at the front door, earning a chuckle from master and a scratch before he opened it.
Master was right, it was Jared, the strong and gruff sounding man stood on the doorstep in his all black clothes like before, a black bag hanging from a strap on his shoulder, his dark eyes crinkling in the corners as he smiled in greeting. I was more interested in the pet sitting obediently at his side, master had been right again, it was a dog, master was so smart.
The dog, Max, had a short coat, a golden brindle colour with a dark muzzle and intelligent light brown eyes. His large pointed ears sat straight up on his head, darker like his muzzle also. He wasn’t a huge dog, but not a small one either, he looked lean and strong, fast too. His masters collar was worn proudly on his neck, the front part a thick leather collar with his name stitched into the black leather in silver, the back a metal chain. It meant the collar sat a little looser around Max’s powerful neck and didn’t press into his fur.
“It’s good to see you Quill.” Jared and master shook hands. “And you Luci.” he reached down a little and scratched my head with a friendly grin. I snuffed in reply before looking down at Max expectantly, waiting to be introduced. “This is Max my pet, he’s a Dutch Shepherd, the best protection breed and the most intelligent in my opinion, and he loves making new friends.” Jared praised his pet and stroked Max’s head. Max puffed out his chest and sat proudly at the words of his master.
“Well it’s wonderful to meet you Max, and I hope you and Luci become great friends.” master nodded at Max and stepped aside to let both of them in.
Max kept glued to Jared’s side and focused on him, I was a little disappointed, I was impatient to greet the other pet, I wanted to play too, I’d missed playing so much.
I followed master as he walked behind them and into the garden, sitting down beside master when he came to a stop, looking up at him and purring when he ran his fingers down my neck. I rested my head against his hip and watched Max and Jared, the latter setting his bag down on the grass. I could see Max gazing around master’s wonderfully big garden, his intelligent brown eyes shining with excitement but he stayed calm and poised at Jared’s side, Jared must be very proud of his pet, he had said as much. I hoped Max would help me be as good for my master, and I knew Jared will, he trained pets after all and if Max was anything to go by he’d make me an amazingly good pet, I couldn’t wait.
“How have things been Quill?” Jared inquired.
Master nodded his head and petted mine a little. “Very good actually, Luci’s been spending more time in his human form, in the evenings we sit on the sofa and watch tv together, he’s also shifted a few times without a prompt from me, he seems to be getting more comfortable in being in his human form.” I could hear the approval in his voice and that made me incredibly happy.
“We had some builders visit earlier this morning as well, our talk the other day gave me an idea, all this space is good and all…” master gestured to his large garden. “…but it isn’t exactly suited for Luci. The builders came to survey the land to build some apparatus.” he chuckled a little. “And Luci was very keen in seeing what they were doing.” The laugh was fond, so I didn’t feel mocked, not that master ever mocked me, but I could tell it was a good thing I was keen, whatever that meant.
“I think that’s a grand idea Quill, I’m not an expert on jaguar habitat or behaviour but that would be very enriching for him and encourage natural behaviours, it wouldn’t do anything but benefit his mental and physical health.” Jared nodded enthusiastically at masters words.
I was still confused as to what the builders were building, what was an apparatus? Whatever it was Jared seemed to approve of it. From masters words I’d gathered that this apparatus was for me, now that made me excited, and very thankful to master, a little nervous also, he was giving me all these things, spoiling me. I’d loved everything he’d gotten me but only a good pet gets nice things, I don’t know if I could live up to masters expectations if he was buying me so many things, I’d try my best but I don’t know if I could be good enough to deserve all these things.
“My thoughts exactly. So, what is on the agenda for today?” master asked Jared.
“This is just the first lesson so not too much, you mentioned recall being a concern of yours, it’s not something difficult to learn but it’s very important to revisit from time to time to enforce the command. Pet shifters are much more intelligent than the traditional all animal pets, so the importance of coming when called can be understood a lot clearer, but then again the intelligence can make some pets believe they know better and they might decide not to return to their master as they believe they are not in danger, or for some other reason. It is imperative to correct those thoughts as soon as you become aware of them, they must be reminded that you are the master, it doesn’t matter the situation, if you call they come without question and pause.” Jared’s voice was serious as he spoke, I understood most of what he said but some of the words were unfamiliar to me, I believe I got the gist though; when master calls I come.
“Luci, why don’t you and Max play on the field?” Jared suggested.
My ears shot up, an excited meow leaving me but I looked up at master for his confirmation that I could leave his side and go and play. “Off you go Luci.” he smiled down at me and I snuffed and licked his hand before darting off, slowing to a stop to look back at Max expectantly a few metres away.
Jared spoke a few words to Max before patting his rump and at that Max shot towards me. For a moment I panicked but then I remembered we were here to play and I trusted master and I knew Jared had taught Max well. I started moving forward again, trotting around in an arch so I could keep Max in view to ease my nerves.
Max slowed to a stop a few feet away, his ears up and friendly, sniffing in my direction, he slowly approached and I let him, taking in air through my nose to smell his scent. We both cautiously got closer and soon we were face to face. I snuffed in greeting, lowering my head to his level, sniffing at his mouth, hearing puffs of hair from him as he did the same. His tail was wagging behind him and he yipped, lowering to a play stance before bouncing to the side, asking if I wanted to play with him.
I did want to play with him, I looked into his intelligent brown eyes, seeing only friendliness and excitement. I lowered my body to match his and he yipped again, growing playfully as he wiped a paw in the space between us, darting off when I mirrored it and I gave chase.
He was fast but I was faster, bigger also but this was playing, it was no fun if it was over immediately.
I watched Luci and Max play with a soft smile, this was something I couldn’t give him, he needed other shifter friends and Max seemed like a perfect one. The pet was outgoing and a good role model for Luci, I knew shepherd dogs like Max were highly energetic and Luci did have some excess energy sometimes, now he could have a friend to help wear him out.
Jared whistled sharply and both of them froze, turning their heads towards us, Max’s large ears sticking right up and angled our way, waiting for further command. “Max, heel.” Jared voiced clearly, his hand going to his side. Max ran back as soon as the words left Jared’s mouth, sitting down right beside Jared, and in line with his legs, looking up at his master. “Good boy.” Jared praised and retrieved a treat from his many pockets, giving it to Max who took it gently from Jared’s palm.
Jared raised his eyes to me. “I believe you should train Luci from the start, he already understands he follows your orders above others, it will make things a lot easier.” he handed me a small sandwich bag of fish cubes hidden in a small treat bag and I slipped it into my pocket.
I did agree with that but I was unsure, I felt a bit stupid to be honest, but I wanted Luci trained, these sessions were also training me to handle Luci, the commands yes but also how to present them and myself, Jared was training me as much as he was Luci.
I turned to look at Luci, seeing him still standing there, understanding something was happening and he needed to keep his attention on us. “Luci, heel.” I repeated Jared’s words, trying to make my voice clear and firm like his had been, god I felt stupid.
Luci glanced to Jared and Max for a second before quickly coming over to me, sending another glance to the other pair and copying Max’s position, turning and sitting in line with my leg, head lifted and looking up at me, patiently waiting for further instruction.
Now that felt good, seeing him listen and take to the command instantly, Jared and Max’s demonstration had definitely helped. I felt like a master now, not that I hadn’t before but I felt the satisfaction and pride that comes along with being a good one.
“Good boy Luci.” I praised with feeling, taking a fish cube and offering it to him in an open palm. I trusted him to be mindful not to bite me in the process of taking the treat and was proved right when he carefully licked the cube of raw tuna into his mouth. I petted and scratched his head, earning deep purrs and he rubbed his head on my hip, licking my now empty hand with his rough tongue.
“Not bad, remember body cues as well though Quill, commands should be visual as well as vocal, if taught together then Luci will associate both the word heel and you tapping your leg as a command to come to you. On the rare chance you need him to come to you and he can’t hear you the visual command can be used if he is already looking at you. I don’t know about large cat shifters but some dogs once they age can lose their hearing, this way he is already taught in a way that doesn’t rely on sound and it also makes Luci look at you, watching for visual commands as well as your vocal commands, it ensures his attention is solely on you, allowing you to bring him back to you safely. I know you may feel daft doing it but it could save his life one day, feeling like you’re making a fool of yourself in front of me is a small price to pay.”
I nodded in response, my expectations of Jared had been well and truly exceeded, he seemed like an extemporary trainer. What he said was also very true, visual commands will enforce the words and although I dearly hope Luci didn’t go deaf it ensured that retraining wouldn’t be necessary.
“Now although Luci knows now what heel means and the visual command that goes along with it you will need to practise it with him, it can be at any time, like out in the garden, or in the house, even if he isn’t in your view, surprise him, he should always be ready to come at your call.
That also leads us onto another thing I would like to train Luci on today, it’s another thing that is easy, but just as important. Luci should always have an eye on you when you are together, this might seem pointless at home but in different situations it is essential, at times you won’t want to use vocal commands, like if you’re having dinner out with some friends for example and in the middle of a conversation, you don’t want to pause that conversation to tell him to do something.”
I could see where Jared was coming from but I honestly wouldn’t mind stopping my conversation to briefly talked to Luci but if I did indeed decide to take him to important meetings later on in the year then I could definitely see it’s uses.
“I’m assuming you haven’t taken him out with you yet, but after today I would hope you’d start to, somewhere quiet at first with few people, so the environment is controlled, he needs to get used to different situations and not feel overwhelmed or distracted, his focus should always be on you as his master. On a crowded street for example he shouldn’t be looking around and inspecting things because he could get lost, which would be very stressful for the both of you.”
I understood Jared’s reasoning, but at home I don’t think it would be necessary, here is a relaxed and safe place, maybe if I had guests over I would want him to watch me for commands but that is a rare occurrence, I like my privacy, house guests are not something I want, although my parents insist on coming over for dinner occasionally and Artie sometimes comes round but that has been less since I’ve gotten Luci, probably because his pet is afraid of him and Artie spoils that fox to no end.
I was willing to take him out of the house, everything could be ordered online now so I didn’t go shopping often, unless I needed something at short notice. I actually didn’t go out that much, during the busy business season I did go out more but when it was quiet I worked from home. I could take him to my parents though, they liked hosting dinner also, but then Parker might be there, I wouldn’t expose Luci to Parker's hateful behaviour on purpose, Luci needed positivity and encouragement, and I didn’t want to be around my brother either.
I did have other friends, not just Artie, I could ask if they wanted to go out for a meal, or for a general catch up somewhere, more than one was overdue, I hadn’t seen any of them in a while, they were busy and I was a pain to get out of the house. I could make some calls and see who was free when, I’m sure the mention of Luci would open up their schedule.