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Man's Only Friend; Open thread
Topic Started: Feb 20 2018, 09:39 PM (302 Views)
Blastinus
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(Jeff Greene start thread)

For Jeff Greene, nothing compared to running by the river. The slow rush of the water as it flowed over rocks was soothing to the ears, and every now and then, he'd glance over and just watch the river streaming by in its slow, easy current. It felt good to get out of the city, if just for a little while. He and Boris, jogging side by side, with only the occasional fellow jogger to remind him that the world still existed. After a day of dealing with his irritating classmates, this was one of the few pleasures he could enjoy before it was back home to study and practice.

Life wasn't any more complicated than usual, really. He'd been living like this for years now, to the point where it felt routine...comfortable. Still, he couldn't help but notice the little changes. Boris was an older great dane, and getting older still. Jeff had gotten faster over the years, sure, but Boris had gotten noticeably slower. He hoped that this wasn't a sign that the good times were ending soon. He'd studied this; he knew that Boris should have three more years at least. He wasn't ready yet to have to deal with an aging doggy.

"You're still a tough guy, aren't you boy?" he panted, and reached a hand over. Boris barked cheerfully in response, making Jeff wonder what he'd done to deserve such a friendly dog. He'd read somewhere that Great Danes were naturally sociable, and by that definition, he supposed that Boris was as natural as could be. His preferred technique was to hop up on new people and act all affectionate, tongue hanging out and everything. Jeff had gotten the jumping treatment multiple times when he was getting to know Boris, but his dear companion had settled on just charging at him the instant he came in the front door instead.

That's why dogs were smarter than people, Jeff reasoned. They don't have to do anything but act loving and appreciative, and people will shower them with attention, feed them, take care of them...They never ask the dog to work for their food or take out the garbage or anything like that. They can just be content to be a dog, and nobody will call them out for it.

The riverside trail wound for a long way. He was going to have to start doubling back home soon. Still, maybe he could stay at it for just a little longer. He was hardly getting winded, even.
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Siyanda Nagi: Pregame Start

"Pepper, leave that frog alone. Pepper- Pepper, don't you dare-" Siyanda yanked back hard on the leash just as Pepper made a move to pick up the hapless frog with her mouth. She gave zem a reproachful look, but returned to zir side frog-free, just in time for Zeus to spot a squirrel and make a break for it, dragging Siyanda, Pepper, and the other two dogs along with him.

Trying to walk a bunch of excitable animals at the same time, most of whom had been cooped up inside all day while their owners were at school or work, was not exactly a walk in the park, to turn a phrase. Zeus and Pepper were the unruliest; both were pretty young, and both were fairly big dogs, a pit mix and a German shepherd respectively. Millie, the elderly English bulldog who belonged to Siyanda's equally elderly neighbor, was at least easy to handle and stuck close to zir side most of the time. She was blind in one eye, and Siyanda normally wouldn't have taken her out with the rowdier dogs, but everyone in the neighborhood had decided today was the day to request an afternoon walk.

In the scramble to reign the dogs in and keep the leashes winding about zir legs from tripping zem, Siyanda heard a telltale click. Ze tugged on the leash it had come from; as expected, it came up empty. "Goddammit."

The real problem was Luna, Zeus's little sister. She was sneaky rather than rowdy, and she was an escape artist. She was already bounding down the trail when Siyanda turned to see where she had gone.

Ze watched her for a few seconds, sighed, and bent to scoop Millie up in zir arms. It was already hard for her to keep up without chasing down a wayward puppy. Making sure that Millie was properly situated, Siyanda took off after Luna, calling her name.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Jeff didn't need Boris's excited barking to tell him that something was amiss. Siyanda's incident with dog walking had occurred around a bend in the trail, out of sight, so the young pit bull merrily loping along without an owner caught his eye immediately. Boris didn't hate other dogs; quite the opposite, in fact, and therein was the problem. If the two of them started socializing and getting to know one another, he'd be tugging on Boris forever, and he didn't have that kind of time.

So, as Luna drew near, Jeff sprang into action. Swapping Boris's leash over to his off-hand, he crouched low and pounced, scooping the squirming little girl up underneath his arm. Struggle as she might, and boy was she yapping up a storm, she was up high, out of Boris's reach, and he'd just drop her down to continue on her way once his Great Dane lost interest.

That's when he noticed the collar on her, and right around that moment, Siyanda came jogging up the trail. Didn't take a genius to put two and two together. With a sigh of consternation, Jeff realized that he was going to have to explain himself, and he hated that, especially when it came to kids his age. Kids with long hair, piercings, etc. By all appearances, he was about to go head to head with one of the artsy fartsy kids. He was going to have to keep it short and sweet and hope that his patience would last.

Or at least, that was the plan. Where he saw a potential confrontation, Boris just saw three more potential friends, and with one arm already occupied by a flailing creature, Jeff found himself struggling to contain his pet's enthusiasm. "Boris!" he commanded, "Boris, heel!"

No good. The call of friendship was too great. "Hey!" Jeff shouted to the other kid, hoping to get...his attention? Frankly, he couldn't tell, and he wasn't one to assume. He'd just have to hope that it never came up. "This your dog?" he demanded, just as Boris gave another tug. To think he was worrying about his doggie getting old.

"Boris! Heel now or no supper!"
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Oh, good. Company. Company that Siyanda recognized just enough for him to fall into that uncomfortable valley where they'd have to acknowledge that they had probably seen each other in class before but didn't quite remember names or anything else essential. J-something, J Green(e). Thanks years of attendance rolls for leaving Siyanda with a bunch of surnames that ze kind of recognized and not enough first names to go with them.

Running into people from school, people ze didn't know well, was always a gamble. Siyanda liked to keep things brief when that happened, and now there were four... no, five complicating factors standing in the way of that, counting Boris.

Boris looked like a good boy. Siyanda would have petted him if zir hands weren't already full of other dogs.

"She is right now," ze confirmed, slowing as ze reached J Greene, Boris, and the wayward Luna. Ze wasn't quite winded, but the short jog, carrying Millie and pulling Zeus and Pepper along, was more exertion than ze had anticipated starting out. Millie was starting to squirm in zir arms too, wriggling around to get a glimpse at Boris the potential new friend and possibly scuffing Siyanda's jacket with her stubby claws. (Do you know how much quality faux leather costs, Millie? Of course you don't. You're a dog.)

Siyanda set Millie down and made a cursory and ultimately unsuccessful effort to tug her and the other two away from Boris while disentangling Luna's leash from the rest. "C'mere, Luna."
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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'Right now,' huh? Why didn't they just come out and say they were a dog walker? Typical artist kids...always gotta be sooooo clever. Well, Jeff didn't have time for riddles, not with his dog threatening to tear his arm off. He just wanted to pass off this pup under his arm and be done with it.

Trouble was, this kid's arms were full already and there was no way that a squirming thing like this would stay still long enough to be reattached to the leash without the other dogs also causing a ruckus. Jeff squeezed his eyes shut in exasperation and slowly opened them again. What he was going to suggest was going to cause him a lot of aggravation, but given all the moving parts, there was no other way to resolve it gracefully.

"K, so here's what I'm thinking," he began, holding Boris back with all of his might. "You're walking this way, right?" he inclined his head back the way he came from. "I was gonna start heading back myself. We'll split the load, let 'em do their thing, and it'll be easier for both of us. I figure your clients won't care WHO'S walking them, long as they get a walk."

Frankly, he was surprised that a lightweight like this (comparatively speaking) was able to handle four at once up until now. Maybe there was some hidden strength in that frame of theirs, something not immediately obvious. Or maybe they were just lucky to have nice, well-behaved pooches to work with. Regardless, unless they found a way to get moving, they'd just be struggling all day, so the two of them needed to work together. That was Jeff's reasoning, and he had no reason to believe that he was wrong about this.
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"Oh-" Siyanda was surprised by J Greene's unprompted offer, but it was a pleasant surprise. His plan certainly sounded better than trying to wrangle all four dogs all on zir own with the different directions they wanted to go in, even if it meant extending this little meeting between near-strangers. "...Sure, that sounds good. Thanks."

Ze took a moment to survey the dogs ze was currently holding (and noted with faint irritation that there were indeed scuff marks marring the tan faux leather of zir jacket sleeve) and separated Millie's leash from Zeus and Pepper's, holding it out to J Greene. "Here, I'll trade you." Siyanda looped the other two dogs' leashes around zir free arm and prepared to wrestle Luna into submission long enough to re-attach her leash.

Millie's stub tail was wagging enough to make her whole chubby body wriggle, but she was still the calmest of the gathered dogs by far, so hopefully J Greene would appreciate the trade.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Thanks. Been a while since someone had said that to him. "Don't mention it," Jeff replied curtly. He raised an incredulous eyebrow at being offered one out of four leashes. Guess this kid wanted to earn their wage or something. Fine by him, as long as they could handle it. As he grabbed hold of the loop, he gave an affirming nod towards his temporary traveling companion and he just let them have at it, Boris taking point at the far left of the pack and being jerked back any time he tried walking over to meet...whatstheirname's dogs.

It occurred to him that he'd need to actually learn this person's name at some point. Having to mentally insert placeholders all the time was starting to wear thin.

The bulldog left in his care was slow, saggy, probably getting on in years. Boris didn't seem too interested, probably because she wasn't too keen on him either. If Jeff had to guess, she just wanted to get back home and have a nice relaxing lie-down, and the dog panting excitedly right next to her ear was probably causing her no end of distraction. Jeff could relate. Not to say that he hated this person walking alongside, but there were tiny things about them, minor quibbles that added up to a greater irritation. Who knows, maybe they were perfectly fine, and he was the one being unreasonable. Not like they'd done anything intentionally towards him.

Yet.

The river flowed in its steady pace. He focused on the currents, the rush of water streaming over and around rocks. It was a nice distraction from socializing. Too distracting, as it turned out, since Boris made another try for it, darting right in front of the aged bulldog. "Ey, Boris! Watch out for, uh..."

Oh great.

"Hey, what's her name?" he asked. Might as well break the silence. It was bound to happen eventually anyway.
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Siyanda got the sense that zir company wasn't the most welcome to J Greene, but he was the one who had made the offer in the name of efficiency. There was a faint undercurrent of tension, but nothing too bad yet. Siyanda didn't really intend to break the silence, occupied as ze was by keeping the three dogs ze was handling on the trail and out of each other's way.

The relative quiet was good, anyway. It gave zem the opportunity to map out the rest of zir afternoon and evening after getting the dogs home. By the standards of zir schedule, it wasn't an intense day. Homework and chores, mainly. Laundry needed to be done, for sure. The kitchen could probably use some tidying up, but it was easier to be out and about around the house when zir parents were out, so that might wait for the weekend if nobody else got to it before then. Maybe ze should fit some sax practice in before homework? That possibility was time-sensitive, since Siyanda couldn't exactly start playing the saxophone at midnight like ze could with homework.

Ze had thought about it before, when ze was irritable and irrationally wanted a fight, but it had never seemed worth it by the time ze actually pulled the sax out.

Siyanda's mental scheduling was interrupted with a question, and it took zem a moment to pull zirself out of zir thoughts.

"That's Millie. These three are Pepper, Luna, and Zeus." Ze indicated each dog in turn.

Siyanda noted that J Greene hadn't asked for zir own name; it didn't bother zem as much as it might someone else. What's your name? from a stranger or near-stranger was usually followed up by other personal questions. Anyway, ze hadn't asked for his full name either.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Millie, huh? Not a bad name. The others too, though he didn't recall asking for their names. Whoever they were, this kid wasn't shy about volunteering information.

"K, so be careful around Millie, right boy?" Boris would have basically no clue what he was saying, but Jeff had heard that dogs could pick up tone and meaning, even if the words themselves were essentially meaningless. They were just smart enough to get along with their masters, and they didn't really need higher thinking to live their happy lives. Jeff could relate, though not for the same reasons. He just put in the effort to pass his classes because he'd be thrown off the team otherwise. It wasn't like he retained most of what he learned after he stopped needing it. Why would a pro football player need to learn about Dostoevsky? Not like they'd interrupt a game to quiz the players on Russian literature.

But on the subject of dogs, another question had been gnawing at the back of Jeff's mind. Something about this kid's choice of occupation didn't really jive with their appearance, at least not skin-deep. "So...what got you into this job? If I saw you on the streets, I wouldn't peg you as a dog walker." He would have probably assumed that Siyanda was a new age painter, or maybe a hard rocker. They kinda went in for that look as well, as he understood. Dog walking...naw, it didn't mesh with what he knew about them. You had to be a special kind of animal lover to want to lead around a bunch of furry beasties with the attention span of toddlers.

Or desperate. Maybe it was the only job in town. He'd know in a second, maybe.
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If he saw zem on the streets, huh? Siyanda wasn't sure if there was any extra meaning to that or not. Ze decided to suppose not; zir company didn't seem like he had much of a penchant for wordplay. Ze was surprised he was carrying on with the conversation at all, frankly.

Dogs, though. Siyanda could certainly talk at length about dogs. Whether or not it would be welcome for zem to speak at length was another thing entirely, but J had asked.

"I like animals, and a lot of my neighbors can't take theirs out as often as they should. It doesn't pay that much, actually, but I have other jobs. It's mostly for fun."

Zeus decided to punctuate just how fun it could be by darting for the side of the trail after some real or imagined animal, barking excitedly and tangling his leash with Pepper and Luna's so that Siyanda had to stop and rearrange them before ze could continue walking.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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They reached the end of the trail without further incident, and Siyanda took the dogs ze was responsible for and left.

((Siyanda Nagi continued in Generation Loss))
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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