[Scalvoris Town] It's a Dog's Life....

Once an isolated and dying township, an influx of academics, adventurers and thrill seekers have made Scalvoris Town their home. From scholars' tea shops to a new satellite campus for Viden Academy, this is an exciting place to visit or make your home!

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[Scalvoris Town] It's a Dog's Life....

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"I had no idea such a thing even existed, to be honest," she said with a smile as she lifted the pup up into her arms and started fussing him. He was delighted, as always, by the attention and Faith had grown to very quickly adore the bundle of fur as he currently was. "According to the books in the library, though, it's a good job. He'll grow into a big, adorable furniture chewing machine if we don't get him properly trained. So classes are good." Somehow, the implication was clear; if he did grow into that, Faith wouldn't really mind and would still love him.

They were standing in the hall situated in the back of the Glass Temple where, along with four other dogs and their owners, they were going to learn how to train the puppy Padraig had bought for her. There were three couples other than them and a woman. The dogs were ranging in size from tiny and yippy-dog to one which was bigger than theirs, but all were obviously pups. The couple with the yippy-dog were the older end of middle aged and very well dressed. Then there was a young couple, much the same age as them with a dog which was very obviously a mixture of at least three other kinds of dog. The third couple, probably late twenties had a large dog easily already the size of a fully grown medium sized dog ~ when it grew, it was going to be huge. The single woman had a small spaniel puppy.

The instructor who was going to help them train the dog, whose name they had finally decided was Cosmo, was female. More than that neither of them knew. As Faith leaned against Padraig, Cosmo did his best to lick both their faces either simultaneously or, at the very least, equally. "I think he's going to be the best trained dog in no time. He's already the best one here." She was besotted with the creature, there was no doubting it. Looking up at Padraig, Faith's expression was evidence of the words she spoke. "You buy the best gifts, you know. I was telling Marl, he's the ghost of the librarian before Rose who won't move over, I was telling him about Cosmo. I read to him every trial so he doesn't forget who he is."

It was all just run of the mill to her, she knew that it was her job to stop him from becoming one of the Empty ones. "Because the Institute of Metaphysics is open, too, there are so many books on the Immortals in there, Padraig." As the instructor walked up to the front of the room, Faith added, "I've learnt more about ectoplasm, too. I suspect you're going to be fascinated. We're on." The last she added as she turned her head to the front, paying attention and fussing Cosmo as she did.
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As living, breathing chewing machines went, Cosmo was well on his way already, Padraig agreed, and it was better now than later, if they were going to teach him any different. He'd already shredded a pair of socks and one of Padraig's research papers, and from the way he eyed the thing, he had designs already on their sofa. It was a good thing that he was a young pup, and one that was easy to forgive. But he'd get bigger, and so would his chew toys.

And then there was the piddling on the floor in the night, right beside the bed where Padraig swung his feet over in the morning to get up. And apparently there were others in the same predicament as them. Some had walked their dogs in, pulling them behind on a leash. Others, the owners of the largest pup in particular, had been dragged in by theirs. He and Faith had opted to carry Cosmo rather than use the lead that they'd brought. Otherwise it was like walking a bouncing bean on a string that wrapped itself around every tree they came across, or around their legs instead.

He didn't feel too badly however. The mixed mutt had already left a puddle by a potted plant in the hallway. "Well he's definitely the smartest, and the most well read one here," he agreed with a grin once they were shown into a room with an open space in the middle, and chairs lining the wall. As they filed in, the little yippy dog snarled and snapped at the largest pup, which yelped and wrapped itself up in its handler's legs.

Once they were seated, and she mentioned ectoplasm, he wanted nothing more than to ask more about it. But in the meantime the woman who'd be conducting the class had walked into the center of the room, and was smiling while addressing them all. She was a middle aged woman, plump with a long, thick mane of white hair. She had plenty of rouge on her cheeks and she wore a dress that was as florid as they came, in spite of the dark and dreary weather outdoors.

"Good morning, all of you!" she said, beaming a smile not only at her two legged students, but her four legged ones too. "My name is Penelope Pepperswitch, and what a lovely bunch of pups we have here. I hope you've all brought a little sack of treats for your pup. Bits of boiled chicken is a nice choice. Some dogs also like dried fruit like apricots or apples. If you haven't brought anything this trial, some treats can be supplied to you. Now then, let's start with names shall we?"

She'd like them each, she explained, to introduce themselves and their pups to the class, and then perhaps tell her the most important thing they'd like for their puppy to learn, as the course went on.
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[Scalvoris Town] It's a Dog's Life....

"Cosmo the physicist, so he is. If he could only speak common, he'd be assisting you in your classes, you know." Faith watched the others with interest, taking note of the potted plant incident, the yipping beast terrorising the large dog and she came to the conclusion that Cosmo probably, probably didn't need these lessons, but it was a good thing that he was there to show the other pups what a perfect puppy would do. She wasn't at all logical when it came to Cosmo, it was true and she unashamedly admitted it.

The instructor came in and Faith, Padraig and Cosmo took a seat, Cosmo vying for both their attentions. Penelope Pepperswitch wanted them to introduce themselves and Faith looked at Padraig at the same moment that she realised she was going to be doing that, judging by the grin he gave her. She returned the expression with a baleful glare which she didn't mean at all and listened to the others. The older couple were introduced by Mr Green and he introduced them as Mr and Mrs Green. The dog was called Petunia and really, they were here to ensure that Petunia behaved appropriately. The young couple introduced themselves as Tim and Deb, siblings whose parents had insisted that they got their dog, Winston, trained before they asked Winston, Tim and Deb all to leave the family home.

That left the couple with the enormous beast of a dog. Laurence and Wendy and the enormous beast was called Tiny. There were titters around the room at that and Wendy smiled. They explained that they'd got Tiny for protection and company as Laurence travelled a lot but he was proving to be a rather big job already and this was a last ditch for them before they decided to get a smaller dog. The woman who was alone was named Cariad and the dog was Mitch. She wanted Mitch to be able to be in the house alone without her worrying about what was going to be eaten, chewed or destroyed when she got home.

Despite Faith nudging Padraig, who ignored her so well that she'd have genuinely thought that he hadn't felt it if he hadn't been grinning, Faith spoke. "I'm Faith, this is Padraig and this is Cosmo." Blue, black and white ears pricked up at his name and Cosmo gave a yipping wuff. "What would we like to learn? Umm. Well, he chews and when we try to walk him he trips us up. House training would be good. All of it, please?" She asked with a smile. She rummaged in her bag and pulled out the bag of treats she had for the pup in question. As she did, Cosmo leapt out of her arms, onto Padraig's lap and seemed utterly determined on clambering onto his shoulder for reasons best known only to the dog.
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[Scalvoris Town] It's a Dog's Life....

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Introductions all around, as as Cosmo scrabbled his way up to his shoulder, Padraig seemed at a loss to evade all the slobbering and licking that followed. His chin, his ear, not even his left eyeball escaped the pup's attention. "And this," he uttered dryly, since their instructor had asked. "I wouldn't mind less of this."

"Ah!" Miss Pepperswitch exclaimed, "That's because your young Cosmo is establishing his dominance over your household. And he appears to be making very good progress." Meanwhile, Petunia had stopped trying to start something with Tiny, who was more interested in napping than engaging, and had begun wrapping himself around his owners' legs. "There must be a leader of every pack, and if you don't establish yourself as that leader," Penelope said to all of them, "Then your dog will step up and do it himself."

They should keep in mind too, she told them, that there were no bad dogs, but owners who failed at leading and making their expectations clear. The result of not doing that, was unacceptable behavior. "First of all," she said, looking directly at Faith and Padraig, "You've brought a leash. Put your puppy on the floor." Padraig was fairly sure that was a bad idea, but he complied. And as soon as he did, Cosmo began hopping on his hind legs and whining, trying to climb in Faith's lap again.

"Now then, the place to start," the instructor said, "is to make sure that you have your pup's attention. His focus on you and only you. You can't tell him what you want if he's not focused on you. These are clickers," she said, and passed out small devices to hold in the hand that when squeezed would produce an audible click."[/i] By then, Cosmo was examining the reach of his leash while trying to start a wrestling match with Mitch, who was cowering under his mistress's chair.

So what miss Pepperswitch wanted them to do, was click the device in their hand, which should cause their pup to look their way. Even if it was only for a trill, or a split trill, then give the pup a treat. Just one, and a tiny one at that. Just a taste. When the pup looked away again, click, treat, and again until the pup's focus remained on them for a much longer amount of time than when they'd started.

And then of course they'd move on to sitting. Which was much easier, she said, than many of them assumed. Click, get the pup's attention, as him to sit, and of course he probably wouldn't. But one should push down gently on the behind she said. And if still the pup resisted? Take a treat, hold it over the pup's head just out of reach, move the treat back towards the space between the ears, causing him to tilt his head back. And eventually he'd pass the tipping point and naturally sit down. Give him the treat, and ask for longer and longer sits each time.

Had to be said, Padraig was skeptical. Cosmo had mastered the art of chewing, slobbering, piddling on the rug. But sitting on command? Who knew though? He'd let Faith go first, then take his turn, and hope for the best.
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[Scalvoris Town] It's a Dog's Life....

Frankly, the face-drenching served him right for making her do the talking, Faith considered, but she couldn't hide her smile when Padraig delivered the line 'and this'. "At least your humour's still dry. Even if your face is soaked," she whispered. Her attention was mostly on the dog and so, when the instructor said that Cosmo was doing very well, Faith grinned in delight. Then, thinking about it she realised that this wasn't necessarily a good thing. But then, if Cosmo was top dog, that was no bad thing, surely? Mistral had certainly ruled the house in Tristan's.

Put him on the floor? "But he doesn't like being on the floor." Faith whispered to Padraig, even as she got the leash and attached it. "I'm sorry, Cosmo. Don't bounce, alright? She'll think you're a bad dog if you... he's bouncing." Faith clasped her hands together in her lap, desperate to pick up the puppy and give him the fussing he wanted. He just wanted attention, after all. "I know, it's alright. Shhh. Shhh. He doesn't like it." Faith said the last to Penelope, like anyone needed telling with all the fuss he was making. "I don't like it, either." Penelope had probably already worked out who was the disciplinarian of the two; it was never going to be Faith.

"Oh, I'm so sorry. He's just trying to be friendly!" She explained to Cariad as Cosmo terrorised Mitch and Faith tried to pull him back. This was where some strength and weight behind what she did would be really helpful, she thought, but alas she had none. "I don't want to hurt his throat. Will it hurt him if I pull him?" Faith whispered the question to Padraig before adding. "I think he's getting over anxious, you know. I'm not sure this is good for him. He might get anxiety, feel like we don't love him." She was entirely serious as she said that.

Still, she went and retrieved Cosmo as Padraig got the clicker and they listened to what Penelope Pepperswitch wanted them to do. Faith was highly dubious, but she was nothing if she wasn't compliant. How would Cosmo know the difference between their clicker, after all, and everyone else's? All those treats flying around the room would distract him and really, poor little puppy it wasn't his fault before it had begun, in Faith's eyes. So, she clicked the clicker and although Cosmo didn't look at her, well he did look at Mrs Green, who had clicked her clicker, so Faith gave him a treat.

After a few moments, she looked at Padraig with a look of genuine delight on her face. "He's paying attention to all the clickers, isn't he clever?" Solemnly, she handed him the clicker and waited to see what he could do. Cosmo let out a low whine and his ears drooped as control of the treats moved from Faith's hands.
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"He's only going to get bigger and heavier," Padraig had whispered back when Faith resisted putting the pup on the floor. "Will you keep carrying him around then?" But so far as Cosmo was concerned, it was a fine idea that she should. "And he knows very well that you don't like it my dear," Penelope countered when Faith complained.

"He picks up on your energy, bad or good, and behaves accordingly. It's hopping and whining and pulling on the lead now. It will become snappishness and many other poor behaviors if you don't establish yourself now as a leader," the woman warned. Spoiled dogs became a menace, was what she was getting at, and the quivering mess that was Peanut beneath his owner's legs, also seemed to be well on his way.

"I think he'll be fine," Padraig whispered back with a grin when she worried. "I think the point of the clickers though is that he shouldn't need to be pulled back." Or at least, that's what he assumed. "And I'm not sure that's how it's supposed to work," he added when Faith gave the pup a treat when he looked away. And in a split trill, miss Pepperswitch confirmed his suspicions.

"You must not reward your pup for unwanted behavior. I'm not suggesting that you should punish him, but you should only reward what is wanted." Never fear, the woman added, Cosmo would catch on quickly enough. His breed was a very clever one. Which implied that some of those in the room might not be, as a general rule. Case in point, Tiny who was dumbly staring at his owners clicker or not, and devouring everything they tossed his way.

"Each time you click, try saying his name at the same time. In that way he'll understand that it's you he's to focus on and no one else." Padraig was willing to give a try in spite of being skeptical, but after a great deal of effort and half a bag of treats, he managed to hold Cosmo's attention for a half dozen trills at a time. That was progress. And once they'd managed it, the sit command came much easier. It appeared they did indeed have a very smart pup on their hands, and one that caught on quickly.

Practice, practice, was Penelope's mantra and she encouraged them to keep doing the exercise until Cosmo remained focused on them for longer and longer amounts of time. Padraig at least felt that they'd climbed a mountain here with their pup. At least, that was, before the next task came along. "Alright then, I want all of you to let your pups off their leads. Don't worry, the door is closed and they won't go anywhere. The point though is to keep your dog's focus on you so that they won't wander away."

And if the pup did, she added, then he ought to come right back when they called him. "Something tells me this is a very bad idea," Padraig whispered to Faith while Cosmo stared at them happily, tongue lolling out. But by then the others were removing the leashes from their pups and the trainer was right, the door was closed and the room was safe. And all eyes were on Faith then, expecting she'd turn Cosmo loose too.
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[Scalvoris Town] It's a Dog's Life....

"Yes, it will help me get stronger and be good exercise considering my increasingly sedentary lifestyle." Faith's whispered retort was accompanied by a smile, but there was an element of truth to it, also. If the dog wanted to be carried, then why shouldn't she carry him. Looking at Cosmo, though, a thought occurred to her. "How big is he going to get?"

Did she have bad energy? Faith looked down at herself for a moment and then sighed slightly. "I'll do better. I just.. well, he's so cute." She smiled at Padraig and nudged him gently. "So's the dog," she whispered wickedly. "I wonder if these techniques work on physicists, too?" However, she concentrated and tried, genuinely tried to do better, but it was completely against her way of being. She just needed to keep focusing on the fact that, by giving in to him now, she was hurting Cosmo in the long run. "It's the same philosophy the trainers in Athart spout, you know. Watch out she hasn't got feathers growing somewhere." Her grumble to Padraig was half genuine, half amused and all very low pitched whisper when Penelope Pepperswitch caught her giving the dog treats for looking at someone else.

When Padraig actually got him to sit though, Faith was genuinely delighted and, whether it was the right thing to do or not, she fussed Cosmo and told him that he was a very, very clever dog and a very good boy. It gave her the impetus to try it herself and she did so in a much more compliant with the rules manner, which in fairness led to him sitting fairly quickly. "I told you ours was the best and cleverest dog, didn't I?" She was delighted. Right up until Penelope suggested, or rather instructed them to take their dogs off the leash.

"Not a very good idea? I think you're very right there, you know." Faith's whispered reply was genuine and she glanced over at the door. The room was closed up, there was nowhere that the puppies could go, but really, this seemed like a recipie for disaster to her. Still, with everyone looking at her and expecting her to behave in a certain way, there was only one thing that Faith could do, really. She let Cosmo off the leash, but kept hold of his collar.

That didn't work, though as they were still looking at her. "You're going to get his attention, yes?" Padraig was better at this whole being stern thing and, just as she was about to tell him so, Faith caught Tim and Debs looking at her a little sympathetically and that got her back right up. It wasn't like Winston was the bee's knees, and Cosmo wasn't in any danger of getting thrown out of the house, she thought to herself rather huffily. Suddenly aware that she was probably taking this all a little too seriously, she let go of Cosmo, though she closed her eyes as she did.
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Cosmo would grow a great deal larger than he was now, Padraig guessed. He'd been told, or maybe he'd only heard it somewhere, he told Faith, that a dog's mature size could be somewhat predicted by the size of his feet as a puppy. Cosmo had large feet, in comparison to the rest of him.

Nonetheless, miss Pepperswitch had very good hearing. "He won't seem nearly so cute my dear when he's grown, and you come home at the end of the trial to find the guts of your sofa spread all over your home. Or he hops up on a visitor and knocks them over coming in the door." He guessed the woman had a point, Padraig thought.

But they'd had reason to be concerned. As soon as Faith turned Cosmo loose, and he realized it, the pup whirled and began pouncing and bounding around the room, visiting all the other dogs and their owners in hopes of comparing treats. Padraig whispered "Stop that," with no success as the pup chewed on Tiny's ear and elicited a yelp, caused the littlest attendee to cower further under his owner's chairs, and tried to start something with Winston.

"Look, a treat Cosmo," Padraig called out, holding the thing between his forefinger and thumb, and belatedly employing the clicker. Which cosmo summarily ignored, but the treat got his attention. And miss Pepperswitch was quick to correct him. "It's not a bribe, it's a reward," she scolded, and Padraig's expression wasn't so different than a child's who'd been corrected in public.

"Keep in mind that you will not be walking around with a clicker or treats at all times. You want your dog focused on you regardless. Trying switching out clicks with a voice call, and treats with praise instead. Any attention from you is a reward." It was a long haul, and a great deal of effort before Cosmo would come, and not immediately bound off again after receiving his reward. But eventually the effort paid off, and Padraig was able to get him to return, sit, accept his reward and stay.

Funny, the feeling of success was not unlike the earning of his letter in physics. It was about as hard won. "Last task," Penelope called out, "Now that you've got your pup's focus, you can teach him just about anything. Get him to walk beside you on a loose leash without pulling, winding around you or falling behind, you'll have successfully completed the course. Keep his attention on you at all times."

This one was for Faith, Padraig thought, so clipping the lead back onto Cosmo's collar and giving him a good round of praise and a treat for good measure, he handed the end of the lead to Faith. "Your turn," he said with a grin.
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[Scalvoris Town] It's a Dog's Life....

"He's got big paws, hasn't he? Oh dear." Her silver eyes were amused as she looked at Padraig. Miss Pepperswitch was quick to hear and tell her off about her 'but he's cute' comment and Faith looked contrite. "My apologies, Miss Pepperswitch. I'll do my best to consider that." She didn't mention that she might have been referring to Padraig as the cute one, since miss Pepperswtich seemed to not really find the whole thing very funny at all. When said instructor had gone, though, Faith was quick to nudge Padraig and whisper the word. "Traitor," with a grin.

They both knew that letting Cosmo loose was a bad idea and, true enough, their beautiful puppy bounded around the room and was very friendly to everyone. Faith understood some of the reactions from the others, Mr and Mrs Green seemed utterly horrified and both Tim and Debs had a look of relief on their face that theirs wasn't the worst, until Cosmo decided that Winston was fair game. "He's just being friendly, I promise you, oh.. Cosmo!" The last was a sharp exclamation at him as he chewed on poor Tiny's ear. "We do not hurt other dogs in this family!" It was as sharp a tone of command as Faith had ever utilised and she rather surprised herself, mumbled an apology and looked somewhat shamefaced.

That brief few trills of stern, though, and where they'd come from, disappeared in a grin as Padraig looked like he'd been told off in a playground. Faith squeezed his hand with a gentle and reassuring squeeze, but she didn't say anything in case Penelope heard her. What followed was a slow and difficult time where the pair of them tried; him more than her, she had to admit, and then finally Cosmo seemed to be almost starting to behave.

Last task? Oh, no that was an impossibility, Faith was quite sure. "I don't think I can, you know. I'll try." She did her best not to sound afraid. It made sense, she thought, that they started at calm and quiet, still even and then moved from there. So, she stood and she called him, to get his attention. "Good dog. Sit." Faith risked not giving a treat for the first obeyed command, but did give him a small one when he sat first time. "Good boy, Cosmo. Good boy. We're going to walk now. Walk, Cosmo. Not run like a lunatic, alright?"

The first time that she stepped forward, Cosmo shot off like a lunatic, trying to pull her with him. Faith tried to stand her ground and get his attention, but she wasn't actually strong enough for the growing puppy and his enthusiasm, so she sat on the floor. "Cosmo! Come on, back here to me." He came back and somehow looked vaguely confused at this strange behaviour. Faith stood and held her hand down, not touching him but in front of him. "We're walking, Cosmo."

There was a good few minutes of what probably seemed quite a comical push and pull between the two but Faith did not give up. This meant that, at one point, not really thinking it through, Cosmo's pulling had meant that she'd slid across the floor on her bottom a few inches before getting back to her knees. Eventually, though, with a delighted grin she gave Cosmo the last of the treats, after completing a lap of the room with him walking, calmly, by her side. The other dogs and their owners might be terrorised, Faith and Padraig both might look like they'd been in a combat situation and feel like they'd been naughty school children, but the cause of the terror seemed quite content with himself and rather proud, too, wagging his shaggy tail and walking up to Padraig with a very self congratulatory expression on his face.

Faith looked at him, then at the dog, then back to Padraig and she couldn't help the laugh which escaped her. "Maybe we should have started with a goldfish, you know?" She slipped her hand into his and smiled up at him. "We're out of dog treats."
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[Scalvoris Town] It's a Dog's Life....

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When it came to surviving miss Pepperswitch's sharp tongue, it was every man, and woman, for themselves. Padraig failed to apologize then but only grin dryly when Faith accused him of treachery. He'd already been chastised once after all, and hadn't found it much to his liking.

But when Faith employed a sharp tongue of her own after Cosmo had stirred up some trouble of his own? Apparently it wasn't only a smart pup they'd gotten but a sensitive one. In response to her scolding, he collapsed on the floor in dramatic fashion, rolled over on his back and piddled himself. Struggling to keep a straight face throughout, Padraig whispered, "That's telling him."

Still, in spite of being corrected himself, Cosmo seemed to be catching on fairly quickly. Of course he was. Why wouldn't he be the smartest pup in the room? Look at who his owners were. "Of course you can, my dear," Penelope countered when Faith worried she wouldn't be able to get Cosmo to walk nicely on a lead. "The groundwork has been laid after all."

And in spite of a rough start, that came of the pup lunging away and Faith scooting across the floor on her backside to stop him, and Padraig suppressing, though not very successfully an amused snort, Cosmo did after all catch on quickly. In fact he seemed to embrace this business of performing well. His eyes were bright, his teeth were on display so that it looked like he was smiling, and his tongue was happily lolling out. The tail wagged and he seemed to be carrying himself quite proudly.

Meanwhile, poor Winston was having to be dragged across the floor while collapsed on his back, and the littlest attendee had wrapped himself round his walker's legs and stopped progress altogether. But Cosmo was excelling and just in time too. Faith was right. They'd run out of treats. "Wonderful," miss Pepperswitch said, to those who'd managed it well, while offering those who hadn't some comfort and additional advice.

Ultimately though, a few of the owners might want to sign up their pups for a second class, but Cosmo, as it happened, was among the proud graduates. Praise was heaped all around, and a wood crate full of stuff toys and leather ones was passed around, so the pups might choose their own new rewards to take home with them. Naturally, Cosmo leaped into the box and reveled in grabbing each one and tossing them out before he could be stopped. But eventually he'd make his choice, and they could return home with their semi newly trained pup.
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