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First Mate In-Training

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Sherlock had a very important job to do. He had to train his new First Mate, Redbeard, his four month old Irish Setter puppy how to follow orders.

He needed someone who would follow his orders as soon as he gave them. Good pirate captains *always* had shipmates that followed orders. He was sure that all he had to do was tell Redbeard what he had to do, and the dog would immediately follow his orders.

It’s just too bad that they hadn’t gotten that far in the First Mate training lesson yet.

It should have been so easy. Sherlock would throw the stick across the garden, and Redbeard would chase it. He was supposed to catch, or retrieve the stick, and then bring it back to Sherlock.

Apparently something was wrong with the dog, because Redbeard would chase the stick, pick it up, and then to Sherlock’s great frustration, the dog would immediately lay down, and then start chewing on it.

Or sometimes, and this was embarrassing, the dog would come up to Sherlock as if he was going to finally give him the stick. only to wheel around as fast as he could, and then run away as if he was goading Sherlock to chase him.

Apparently this was Redbeard’s favorite game. Sherlock would have to chase the dog around the garden, and sometimes into the neighbor’s gardens to get the stick back from his reluctant First Mate.

Sherlock was considering ordering Redbeard to swab the deck of the “ship”. (the picnic table in the yard). But, he was pretty sure at this point in the training, Redbeard wouldn’t follow that order either.

He’d tried everything. Yelling, begging, chasing, and even sneaking up on the dog to try to get him to release the stick. Sherlock was getting really tired of the chasing.

He was also getting tired of Mycroft’s giggles from the backdoor of the house. His older brother had tried to help. He had suggested that Sherlock could “catch more flies with honey”. To which Sherlock gave his brother the “you’re obviously an idiot” look. He was trying to train a dog, he wasn’t trying to catch flies. (it did give him an idea to see which bees made the best honey for fly catching, and stored the idea for an experiment in his Mind Palace. He liked bees almost as much as he liked dogs).

His mum was ringing the bell by the backdoor to signal Sherlock that it was time for lunch. Redbeard beat him back to the house. Redbeard *always* went to his mum when she called him. Sherlock wasn’t sure why the dog listened to his mum, and not him.

After lunch, Sherlock and Redbeard went looking for bugs for several hours. But, what really ended up happening, was that Sherlock was bug hunting, and Redbeard was constantly trying to get Sherlock to play “chase me!” by stealing the sticks that he was using to dig in the dirt for bugs.

Giving up on the bug hunting, Sherlock was trying to herd the dog back to the house, but without much success. The dog kept getting distracted by everything.

Sherlock gave up, and walked angrily into the garden. Throwing rocks at the decorative bell by the back door. One of the stones hit the bell a little harder than he’d intended. There was a loud “clang!”, and Redbeard suddenly came running up to Sherlock. Looking at him expectantly, sniffling around as if he was looking for something.

Thinking that the dog had finally learned to come, Sherlock picked up a stick from the woodpile by the door, and threw it as far as he could out into the garden. Redbeard chased it, picked it up, and then immediately laid down and started to chew on the stick.

Frustrated again, Sherlock kicked the pole that the bell hung from. The bell clanged, and Redbeard came running up to Sherlock with the chewed up stick in his mouth. Dropping it at the boy’s feet as he leaped onto him, slobbering dog spittle everywhere.

Sherlock picked up the stick, ran out into the yard and threw it. Redbeard went bounding after it, picked it up, and without breaking stride decided it was an excellent time for another game of “chase me!”.

Sherlock sat down in defeat, and waited for the dog to stop running around him in circles. It was making him dizzy to watch the dog.

A little while later, his mum came back outside, and rang the bell to call him in for dinner. Redbeard broke more speed records running up to her as she put his food dish on the ground, and told Sherlock to wash up for dinner.

Sherlock looked at his mum, looked at the bell, and then looked at Redbeard gobbling up his dinner, and suddenly had a brilliant idea for an experiment.