He pulls into the room and resists his instinct to fight even harder against the tension on the collar, but only because it earned him a kick in the ribs the last time he did that. And he's a quick learner. The human on the other end of the leash has no understanding of canine body language, oblivious to an eminent danger of being bitten. But though it's been a while since Alpha Handler left, his strict training is still in force. Learned behaviors. Rules.

And the first rule is…don't harm the human holding your line, even if they kick you.

It's difficult to follow directions from these men. The humans now taking control are all mere pretenders, posturing for position. And they only know how to dish out negative reinforcements. Not like Alpha Handler, who was a real Leader and had taught him all he knew. Alpha Handler would always make sure he understood the meaning of a command before expecting compliance.

These humans only shout, jerk his collar, and kick.

"See Butcher here is a military dog…"

He's been brought in to face new people, two human males in a high state of tension. Not members of this current pack, the one he's been forced to be part of lately. He hasn't fully assimilated into this pack as there doesn't seem to be any specific Leader, or at least no one who has earned his loyalty. Besides, his Alpha Handler may be back, and he doesn't switch his allegiance that quickly. And certainly not to humans such as these!

In this group, the Light Hair gives the commands, the directions the others follow…but they follow out of fear, not respect.

Light Hair has the line now and with some confusing hand signals and harsh words seems to want him to alert. No problem! He's very thirsty and is getting more so by the minute; it's put his temper on edge. He barks, throwing in some growls for good measure to relieve his own stress, because all this activity is just making him more agitated. More thirsty.

Alpha Handler understood that. Stressful activities earned him long soothing strokes helping him control his drive. And there was always a full bowl of water available to him. But these humans seem ignorant of the fact that anxiety stress panting causes thirst. And he'd been panting a lot over the last several days!

And hunger? When was the last time his stomach had been full? A long time…ever since Alpha Handler left. A piece of left over hotdog last night and that sweet doughy thing this morning did not make a full meal!

"The guy that had him didn't have our money either, so he paid with his dog…and his balls."

He's barked, growled and it evidently is the correct response. Good Boy to him for reading Light Hair's body language correctly, because this human certainly doesn't know the proper commands! He inhales the odors around him, concentrating on the new ones to the pack. Arid fear comes off the two on the chairs, along with the scent of blood. More terror from the little man than from the bigger human, but still enough to cause him to echo concern.

He barks, pants some more, and his thirst worsens as Light Hair continues to communicate with the new comers, all the while brandishing a metal tool.

"Now, I'm gotta to leave some for Titus, but I'm sure he won't mind if I take a head start."

The sound of the door banging open has his hackles rising. More humans enter, all puffed up with hostility, though not one of them is a Leader and so really have no right to come barging forward like this. If Alpha Handler were here, these interlopers would certainly not have dared such a violent intrusion into the pack. And they are pushing another of their kind in front of them. One who is resisting, but only weakly.

He sniffs the wave of new scents brought in with the opening of the door. Interesting…

"Oh, it looks like Butcher is going to eat well tonight."

He savors the air several more times, focusing on one man. Tension and posturing is emanating from the aggressors, but not this one. The tall one is much more in control, though concealing it. There is no fear odor, no alarm. That meek attitude and deceiving body language is at odds with other, more reliable indicators…like anger. So why does this human allow the others to dominate like that? They've even attacked and the tall one didn't fight back, though the anger vibe is increasing. This is confusing…

Light Hair directs some harsh words to him again. Bark? Yes, that is evidently what he wants. So he barks, but his heart is not in it. He is merely trying to intimidate the tall one who is now at eye level, and it doesn't work. Not that he really expected it to…this man is a true Leader. And has made unapologetic eye contact with him.

He averts his gaze in respect to the Alphas higher status.

"Foei...Stil...Af Liggen…!"

Now that's more like it! Finally some actionable commands he understands. He immediately goes silent and stills, indicating his willingness to follow. Another command and he drops to the floor, tucking his hind legs under him for a quick release if necessary. He pricks his ears to catch more sound, closes his mouth and focuses on the kneeling human, waiting for the next command.

Switching loyalties is not always easy; he's been waiting for his Alpha, but this one will do nicely…

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

As with my other animal centric stories, I am taking some literary liberty, though attempting to stay as true to nature as possible. Obviously, a dog thinks differently than a human, and certainly not in our language! They also rely far more on body language for communications than humans ever do.

A well trained protection/police/military dog's desire to work willingly for its handler is in direct correlation to its trust and respect for that person. It's a partnership: the animal will follow its Leader, but only if it trusts that Leader to protect it, and the pack.

"Butcher" was willing to work for Reese when he saw that the 'tall man' showed no fear and knew the proper commands. At that point learned behaviors took over, and the Alpha Handler position opened to a new candidate.

Of course it takes time (weeks to months) for such a dog to switch loyalties completely, but I hope Bear becomes a permanent part of the S2 story line!