Lanisen is in the back of the kennel building, sitting on a low stool, deep in conversation with a silver-black deerhound.
Imogen walks into the kennels, holding herself perfectly straight, her hair pulled neatly back. She peers owlishly through her spectacles as she tries to get her bearings.
Lanisen glances up as the door opens. He gives the deerhound a quiet command accompanied by a hand signal, and she flops down, tail flipping. Lanisen grabs his stick, hauls himself up, and limps off toward the door. “Afternoon, ma’am,” he says, dipping his head respectfully. “‘Fraid Master Danall’s not in right now.”
Imogen watches the young man with professional interest. “Oh. I was hoping to speak with him.”
Lanisen says, “He’ll be back sometime this evening, I figure. Not sure exactly when. I can let him know you dropped by?”
Imogen glances, a little dubiously, it must be said, at some of the puppies. She blinks nearsightedly. “Thank you. I would appreicate that.”
Lanisen asks, “Who shall I say is looking for him?”
Imogen snaps her attention back to Lanisen. “My name is Imogen. I was hoping perhaps…”
Lanisen waits attentively.
Imogen brushes an imaginary speck off of her skirts. “Well, I was hoping I might be able to find a dog to be my companion. I travel a good bit, and the roads don’t seem as safe as they once did after what happened here, especially as a woman alone…”
Lanisen shifts slightly, winces, and shifts back. “Ahh,” he says slowly. “I see.”
Imogen frowns again, her profession coming to the fore. “Are you taking anything to help manage the pain?”, she says with some concern.
Lanisen’s expression flickers with surprise. “Um,” he says. “Yes, ma’am, thank you, I’ve got willow bark if I want it.”
Imogen blinks again. “Good. Did you break a bone? What else you might try if that stops being as effective will depend on what the injury is…”
Lanisen says, “Uhh, no, ma’am.”
Imogen ahs, her attitude calmly efficient. “Well, that sling is good work. It looks to be holding the arm at the proper angle to keep the weight off. Is it comfortable? I can rewrap it for you if you’d like.”
Lanisen seems rather flustered by the woman’s interest. “Y-yes–I mean, no, ma’am. It’s fine, thank you.”
Imogen smiles. “I’m sorry. I should’ve mentioned that I am a healer. It is a bad habit to see everything in light of my work.”
Lanisen says, “Ahh, I–sort of surmised that, ma’am.”
Imogen ohs. “That is why I travel. You know the dogs well, then?”
Lanisen relaxes a little as the topic shifts. “Yes, ma’am. Most of ’em I knew from a pup.”
Imogen blinks at each of the pups in turn. “Would you mind giving me some advice, then?”
Lanisen hesitates. “I’m not in charge of the breeding,” he warns. “That’s Danall, and I’m not altogether sure which he’ll be wantin’ to keep for the pack and which he’s lettin’ go from this season. They’re the king’s hounds, you understand.”
Imogen nods her understanding. “Of course. I am afraid I don’t know nearly as much as I should going into this, and I want to make sure it is a success for both me and whichever pup Danall is willing to part with.”
Lanisen gives her a measuring look. He murmurs a beg-pardon, seats himself on a overturned crate, and whistles.
Imogen watches these proceedings with a mixture of curious interest and perhaps just a little bit of apprehension.
Puppies, not /very/ young but certainly less than a year in age, stream toward Lanisen from all directions. They are moving quickly, but there seem to be five.
Imogen stands still as the puppies approach, relaxing a little as she observes their antics.
Lanisen gives them a minute to rough-house and expend the worst of their energy, then snaps his fingers to get their attention and makes a simple hand-sign. Within a few seconds, they have settled down, most sitting or laying on the ground, tongues lolling and tails wagging furiously. The smallest stretches toward Imogen from her sitting position, trying to sniff at her shoes without actually moving.
Imogen looks rather impressed when he gives the signal. She kneels to put herself more on the pup’s level, extending a hand for the pup to sniff and studying it through her spectacles.
Lanisen says quietly, “Do this.” He turns away from the dogs to show her another hand signal. “That’s the release command.”
Imogen watches intently, and does as he instructs, practicing a couple of times until the gesture comes naturally. “Fascinating…”
The pup whose attention was on Imogen hops up immediately and approaches her to make friends.
Imogen lets out a quiet, “Oh”, both surprise and pleasure at this outcome in the noise.
Lanisen murmurs, “Hold, now,” as the rest of the pups begin to shift and whine that their sister has been released and they have not. He maneuvers himself off his stool and down onto the floor in their midst to keep them entertained while Imogen and the pup have their chat.
Imogen regards the pup solemnly as she settles on the floor next to her, speaking a few quiet, gentle words before allowing the pup to come near and give her a good sniff. When the pup scrambles into her lap, a slow smile spreads across Imogen’s face. “Fascinating”, she says again, very softly.
Lanisen keeps a watchful eye on Imogen’s interactions with the pup. He releases the rest, and they begin milling around again, two striking up a play-fight while one flops heavily against his right knee.
Imogen gently reaches out a hand to stroke the pup behind the ears, her expression softer than it has been for the entirety of their conversation.
Lanisen removes his right arm from its sling so that he can pet both of the hounds asking for his attention at once.
Imogen gives the little pup her fair share of attention, noting the condition of her eyes, ears, and coat before turning her atention to another who has been waiting for her notice. The little pup licks Imogen’s cheek before clambering down off of her lap to find another adventure. “I meant what I said about wanting a companion as well as protection. It gets lonely being by myself so often, but any pup who has a life with me will have to do well with travel, be strong enough for a life on the road and able to protect me, gentle and patient enough that I need not worry when I bring him or her along on calls with me, and be intelligent enough to pick up on what is needed. Do you think I can learn enough to train the right puppy?”
Lanisen listens carefully to this list, nodding occasionally. “You shouldn’t need to do much /trainin’/,” he says once she’s finished. “They’ll all know their basic commands, Danall don’t do the choosin’ until they’re almost a year old and he’s had time to figure out their temperaments and smarts and noses. Unless you’re talkin’ somethin’ besides the normal stuff?”
Imogen shakes her head. “No, I don’t think so. Though some animals are uncomfortable around illness, aren’t they? The patients I treat are either sick or injured, and I can’t worry about a dog acting up…”
Lanisen glances at her, considering this for a moment. “I wouldn’t know about that, ma’am,” he finally answers frankly. “Danall might know more, but I never heard of that. We don’t train ’em to be around sick folk, anyway.”
Imogen nods, seeming to appreciate this frankness. “I have also heard that some dogs are able to find people who have been injured by scent. That would be useful…”
Lanisen says, “Ahh.” He pauses awkwardly. “Some dogs can do that, yeah, but these’re sighthounds, not scenthounds so much. They’re bred to be runners, more. Danall don’t usually let the ones with the coldest noses go, even so.”
Imogen nods again. “Of course. More useful for the hunting they do, right?”
Lanisen says, “‘S right, yeah.”
Imogen adds, “I was thinking that I’m going to be the one needing the training, to be honest. Not the puppy.”
Lanisen gives her a quick grin at this, agreeing.
Imogen greets another of the puppies who comes over to investigate. “If he thinks he can part with one. How do I start to learn what I need to, then?”
Lanisen says, “You’ll want to know the signs, I expect–” He makes a quick series of hand signals, rather too quickly to follow. “But they know the words, too.”
Imogen agrees. “Yes, I would care to know both.” She tries to watch him but ends up looking confused. “I have to see to a patient, but would you ask him for me when he returns? And…if you have time, maybe you could show me those signs again, in case.”
Lanisen says, “Yeah, sure. Be glad to.”
Imogen thanks him, gives the pup she’s been interacting with a final pat, and heads on her way.