And now for a second. “Lay down,” Aster said, producing a treat and drawing the Wiurn’s attention down again. Like the first time, Nightshade’s head followed, but not the rest of him. However, this time, when Aster went to press on him, Nightshade went down as soon as he felt Aster’s hand on him. Aster arched his brows, impressed despite himself. This one was a fast learner, at least thus far. Only time would tell whether he proved to be easy to teach in general, but so far, so good. “Good boy.”
Aster let him rise, then repeated it a third time. “Lay down,” he said. This time the Wiurn followed the treat down with his whole body, which was a relief for Aster, since the way he had to reach to keep the treat low and push down on Nightshade was not a comfortable position. “Good,” Aster said, and fed him the treat.
The next step was going to be getting Nightshade to do it on the command, rather than following the treat like he had been doing until now. That might well just be a matter of repetition, come to that--- a transferring of the association from one cue to another. To that end, Aster repeated the command a few more times with Nightshade, then called the session to an end.
After all, they were just starting to work together. For now, Aster wanted Nightshade to acclimate to him and to the process as much as he wanted them to make progress on what they were actually working on. There would be time for the rest later.
The next day, Aster found time between some of the other things he was doing for another short session with Nightshade. He brought the Wiurn out on the lead again, just as he had done the day before.
They weren’t communicating through a ribbon or anything, and these new types of Wiurn weren’t noted for their intelligence--- though they weren’t particularly dull creatures either, like their predecessors. Still, Aster was hoping to rely on other cues, such as a routine, to settle Nightshade into the habit of training work.
Aster produced another treat, and brought it low. “Lay down,” he said.
Nightshade went down--- a little more slowly than he did the day before, but doing so all the same. When he had performed to Aster’s satisfaction, Aster fed him the treat.
They repeated it a couple more times, until it seemed like he had his confidence back from where they’d ended off yesterday, at which point Aster merely held out the treat and stated the command again without moving it. “Lay down,” he said.
Nightshade moved, though there was some hesitation as soon as he realized that one of the cues was missing.
When Aster repeated the command though, he slowly went down, dark eyes fixed on Aster’s own. When he completed the command, Aster fed him the treat as usual. “Good.”
From there, a couple more repetitions of the same saw Nightshade picking up the verbal cue, such that Aster felt comfortable enough to try it without holding the treat out at all. As it turned out, it hardly made a difference; apparently Nightshade didn’t need to see the treat to trust that it was coming.
After that, the only thing to work on was the duration of the command. Aster had Nightshade lay down a couple more times, extending the wait slightly before he gave the Wiurn his treat, then called it a day from there.
With the basic command established, however, it was just a matter of time and practice. The hard part was pretty much already over now.
Aster worked on ‘lay down’ for a couple more short sessions with Nightshade before Nightshade was staying down long enough for his satisfaction. It was a gradual process, but that was deliberate on Aster's part, again to try and keep the pressure off the creature for now. They had to learn to trust each other first, after all, even if things were going smoothly as it was right now.
But they did get there eventually, and then it was time to move on to something else.
It had gone pretty well. Nightshade didn’t seem particularly willful or volatile, and he had picked up a short, simple command relatively quickly. That much was a promising start, as far as Aster was concerned, not to mention kind of refreshing, given all the creatures he'd worked with in recent memory and how all of those had started out... Well, aside from Rhys, but even the two of them had had their hiccups.
Aster spent a little more time with Nightshade doing nothing in particular--- letting the Wiurn out to have some time on the grass with just him nearby, as much to let Nightshade out for exercise as to acclimate him to Aster’s own presence. Mostly, Aster stayed out of his way for now, content to observe the Wiurn as he went about his business. It was interesting to watch the way that Nightshade moved, braced on the knuckles of the arms of his wings, the three dramatic webbed claws tucked away.
It looked like it ought to be uncomfortable, but at one point Aster saw Nightshade really move--- maybe he’d spotted a rabbit or something in the grass, and was inspired for a moment to chase after it. Aster didn’t know. What he did know was that Nightshade moved fast, faster even than Avander had been over land before his transformation.
And Avander was no slouch in the speed department after all that training they’d done. Not to mention he had four whole legs devoted to the task of getting about on land, rather than the walking-on-wings gait of the normal Wiurn.
That gave him some ideas for things they could do later. But for now, they were still in that uncertain stage, and Aster wanted to earn a bit more of Nightshade’s trust first, before they got into anything that could conceivably be used in combat.
Start: Accept Noise
Moreover, there was the matter of desensitizing him first. Aster didn’t do this with all his creatures, and admittedly he wasn’t as thorough about this as he should have been even with the creatures he did desensitize… But Nightshade, though he seemed placid enough now, was undoubtedly capable of a lot of really dangerous things that Aster hadn't seen him do yet.
If he spooked and got upset, he could cause a lot of damage too. Better to do it earlier than later, and at least control the risk involved, rather than leave him as a ticking time bomb liable to go off eventually.
Noise was the easiest to start with, and probably the most broadly applicable, so Aster decided to go with that.
The estate itself was fairly quiet, aside from inside the house, and even then, it was probably still quiet compared to the general din of homes closer to the heart of the city. There, the people were more closely packed, and more desensitized to noise themselves. But there were still instances where some of the creatures did make a great deal of noise here; Grunty came almost immediately to mind, for example. And if it was generally quiet, then the intrusion of a loud noise would be all the more startling.
And not that Aster would have let such a large, untried creature near any of the Hara, but in case one of them--- Juniper, say, since she had an inclination for getting into trouble and being somewhere she shouldn't--- snuck out somehow anyway and then shrieked in his enclosure, Aster didn't want Nightshade to panic for it. Or, as a more likely scenario, take the opportunity to squash her flat.
Still, it did feel a little ridiculous to be coming out with him to the field with a tape player in hand. And yet, the tape player was the lesser of a series of ridiculous evils. The alternatives had been more along the lines of noisemakers and other toys, which were moreover made for smaller users than Aster himself. Holding something of Juni's, or, gods forbid, one of the Sarane whelps' little squeaking rubber chew toys, would have been completely humiliating.
… Not that Nightshade would know… But Aster would. He'd have to live with himself. It wasn't worth it.
The good thing was that, being what looked like a special commission from the labs, Nightshade was fairly quick to trust. Even if Aster hadn't been his original intended caretaker, the Wiurn seemed to take his change of fortunes without much fuss, and was willing enough to do as Aster directed. Hopefully this wouldn't break whatever trust he'd formed clear in half, but Aster kept the possibility in mind. He had plenty of treats in hand, if it came to that.
"Are you ready?" he said to the unsuspecting Wiurn, who couldn't have had any idea about what was to come. Nightshade didn't answer, though he looked up slightly at the sound of Aster's voice.
Here goes nothing, Aster thought, and flipped the switch. Right on cue, the noise of trains began to play.
They weren't deafeningly loud, and it was a continuous wave of noise rather than a single sudden loud instance. Aster wasn't making an honest attempt to freak Nightshade out, after all. He just wanted to get the Wiurn acclimated to loud noises, so that he wouldn't panic when they happened, the same way an inoculation wasn't the same thing as siccing a disease wholesale on someone.
Nightshade’s head came up at the noise, and he looked around for a moment as though trying to determine the source, before settling on the tape player in Aster’s hands.
The good news was that he didn’t become immediately hostile. But from what Aster could read in the Wiurn’s body language, Nightshade wasn’t exactly enjoying himself either. The Wiurn’s tail lashed, and his gaze followed the tape player as Aster set it down somewhere off to the side so he could free his hands.
Moving slowly so as not to startle Nightshade any further, Aster moved to Nightshade’s side, treat in hand. “Easy boy, easy,” he said. Slowly, Nightshade’s attention shifted to the food, though Aster could still see him keeping some attention reserved for the tape player.
Aster led Nightshade with the food for a while before picking a calm moment to let the Wiurn have the treat. When Nightshade was finished with it, Aster produced another. He was hoping to make the experience as positive for Nightshade as possible, so that he came to associate the noises with being calm. And, well, with food, at least in the beginning, but the main goal was to get Nightshade to ignore the noise.
In the interest of taking things slow like he had before, Aster kept the first session short. When Nightshade had tolerated the noise for the better part of ten minutes, Aster turned the tape player off.
The two of them then practiced ‘lay down’ with the Wiurn a little more before calling it a day. But the next day he was back with more of the same.
“Easy boy, easy,” Aster said. Nightshade was staring at the tape player before Aster even turned it on. But after some initial hiccups, he was easier to distract in this second session, and Aster left the tape player running a little longer because of it. He still kept the Wiurn supplied with a steady stream of treats, and continued talking to him in a slow, soothing voice.
He also took the opportunity to gage Nightshade’s reaction. He wouldn’t really have called it ‘frightened’, the way that Nightshade reacted; it was more that the noise annoyed him, if anything. But even today, his tolerance for it had improved quite a bit.
The third session went even better. The tape player was largely forgotten in favor of Nightshade bothering Aster in a general sense.
Aster tentatively stopped with the treats, but for some reason that seemed to hardly make a difference to Nightshade, who was content to nose him around and even play a little, though the kinds of games Aster could play with a grown Wiurn were pretty limited in scope.
A couple more sessions, and Aster began to just leave the tape player running while he spent time in the field. He cycled it through a few different tracks, for variety’s sake, but so long as it was ambient noise, Nightshade didn’t seem to mind.
That meant it was time to try their luck with something harder to tolerate. Aster picked more dynamic noises this time, like the sound of a horn, or the wailing of a small child, and compiled that into its own tape. He was already not looking forward to this, but it had to be done.
Returning to the field where he worked with Nightshade, Aster set the tape player down where he usually would, and turned it on. At first nothing happened, because he had inserted a buffer period of silence, to give himself time to engage Nightshade, before all the nonsense went down. Aster took the time to do just that, entering the pen and greeting the Wiurn. "Hey there big guy," he said. It was something he said to a lot of his creatures, since most of the ones he trained on a regular basis were in fact large and male.
Nightshade seemed happy to see him. The Wiurn picked up his head from whatever he had been inspecting, and shuffled forward to thump his head plate into Aster's chest. Aster was beginning to get a bruise right along his sternum from being greeted like this, but apparently it was a sign of affection.
Ashe: When the credits have been handed over IC, and the transfer is posted. Threads are often left open a little longer, in case the customer wishes to RP their exit or anything else.
Sept 13, 2020 14:49:02 GMT -6
Renathan: I've been meaning to ask- is a person considered out of the shop when the shop transfer is posted/items are given, or when the shop thread is locked?
Sept 13, 2020 14:20:16 GMT -6
Flare: It was hinted in the discord, so nothing officially announced.
Sept 10, 2020 22:30:10 GMT -6
Riku: Oh, when and where was that announced? Lol
Sept 10, 2020 21:38:50 GMT -6
Xentus: Sarane eggs. Lil' egg hunt around the boards to get a brown with neat markings
Sept 10, 2020 13:45:16 GMT -6
Riku: What eggs...? 😅
Sept 10, 2020 13:40:49 GMT -6