He wasn't quite sure when it had happened. Actually, he wasn't entirely sure how it had happened, either. By all accounts, it really shouldn't have. He just wasn't that type of person. For the most part, he was pretty solitary, except for the few occasions where he'd hang out with a close friend or two. But it had happened. All the same, that-type-of-person or not, it had happened. Somewhere between the initial curiosity and the eventual irritation, Dutchy had fallen in love.
The tall blonde sat now in an empty alley, head in his hands, as he attempted to salvage some shred of dignity from the entire situation. The object of his affection – and resulting irritation – sat quietly across from him and watched. Dutchy lifted his head and glared. "Don't look so smug an' happy 'bout this," he snapped pitifully. "You ain't got a reputation to keep up." A small flurry of excited movement was his only response, but he kept talking anyway, realizing full well that any dignity he'd hoped to recover was quickly dissolving thanks to his strange urge to speak to… Well…
To a dog.
The mangy mutt thumped its tail again as Dutchy continued to glare at it. "I don't even like dogs!" he muttered pathetically. "What am I s'posed to do with you?"
It really was a rather comical situation, if you stopped to think about it. Dutchy had found the little black-and-white spotted thing a couple weeks back, wandering the streets plaintively. At first, he'd done his best to ignore it, because, as he so fervently put it, he wasn't particularly fond of dogs. He'd had the misfortune of being chased numerous times as a child by the large, rabid alley dogs that occupied the streets he'd had a bad habit of frequently wandering into. As a direct result, he made it a point to avoid all dogs, including the wretched, half-starved creature that crossed his path that day.
He saw the poor thing several more times that week, and, against his better judgment, actually started to feel sorry for it. One day, he even left a few spare scraps from his lunch in the alley for it. He soon realized that was the worst thing he could have done. The friendly little mutt considered the gesture a sign of affection, and took to following Dutchy absolutely everywhere.
Part of him found the poor creature's loyal shadowing to be endearing. But on the other hand, having a dog underfoot every minute of the day on top of trying to sell his papes was more than a little irksome.
The other boys thought the whole thing was incredibly amusing, and appropriately named the dog Shadow, given the fact that it was always at Dutchy's heels. Shadow quickly became popular among the newsies, and was often invited to sleep in the Lodging House with them. But no matter how much attention he received from the others, he never once left Dutchy's side. Nobody could quite understand it, least of all Dutchy himself, especially since he tried very hard to ignore Shadow as much as possible. Which wasn't easy, since, as stated before, he'd actually grown rather fond of Shadow somewhere along the way. And so, here he was, sitting in the alley with Shadow watching him intently, trying to puzzle his way through this incredible phenomenon. Eventually, of course, he gave up pondering the why and the how, and just accepted the strange friendship as it was.
Weeks later, Specs found him sitting in the same alley, the alley where he'd found Shadow in the first place, again with his head in his hands. But Shadow was nowhere to be seen. As it turned out, Shadow was particularly protective of Dutchy, and when the bulls had shown up that afternoon to break up the protesting strikers outside the World distribution center, Shadow had leapt into action to defend him.
It hadn't ended well at all.