• Published 9th Aug 2014
  • 512 Views, 9 Comments

The Dogs Who Came to Beg - TinCan

The troubled new Diamond Dog kingdom sends its most expendable subjects as diplomats to their mysterious neighbor: the land of the magic ponies. Cultures will clash, nerves will fray, and, one way or another, history will be made.

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7. Pepper

She’d be the best for this, they said. Pepper’s going to have a litter someday, they said. Pony pups aren’t so different, they said.

Stupid, mangy, flea-bitten, toothless….

“Today we have a very special opportunity, class,” the teacher pony chirped. “We’re going to get a chance to meet a Diamond Dog and talk to him—”

I cleared my throat.

“Yes, Mr. Pepper?” she asked, looking at me with the most forced of smiles.

“I’m a… I’m female, and a hound,” I said.

That smile of hers twitched a bit. “Okay! See? We’re already learning. Now, who has a question for our guest?”

Her class just stared at me, wide-eyed and frightened. Ponies! Always scared. One of the friendship princess’s followers, the polychrome pegasus, was sitting in the corner of the room making sure I didn’t do anything to their pups, as if that was even a possibility. What did they think I was, rabid?

After an interminable silence, one of the little ponies raised its hoof near the back of the class.

“Yes, Snips,” the teacher said, “What would you like to ask Miss Pepper the Hound?”

“Just Hound Pepper, please,” I corrected.

The princess’s retainer snorted and rolled her eyes, as if calling me by my right name was too much bother for ponies. Haughty little feather-brain.

“Have you ever eaten a pony?” the pup in the back asked.

I probably shouldn’t have said, “Why, are you offering?” but it was just too tempting. The class burst into an uproar of squeals and whispers, and the rainbow pony looked like she was about to tackle me.

“That was just a little Diamond Dog humor,” I explained, watching the crouched pegasus from the corner of my eye. “Of course I haven’t eaten any ponies. It’s forbidden for dogs to eat ponies.”

“What about cows? Can you eat them?” the pup said.

“No, cows are also not to be eaten.”


“No sheep.”

“How about—”

“Diamond Dogs are not allowed to eat any creature with the power of speech.” I interrupted.

He thought for a moment. “What if—what if there was a pony who couldn’t talk? Could you eat that pony?”

I looked the pup right in the eye. “I would never rob the world of such a treasure,” I said through gritted teeth.

“O-kay!” the teacher said, stepping between me and the class. “Give everypony a chance, Snips. Who else has a question?”

The pup right next to Snips waved his hoof in the air.

“Yes, Snails?”

“Do you eat bugs?”

Several pups giggled.

I shrugged and said that I could if I had to.

The class recoiled in a chorus of eww-s and gagging noises. Oh, like eating filthy grass and leaves was any better?

“If I gave you a bug right now, would you eat it?” Snails asked.

Thank you, Snails,” the purple pony said. “Who has a question that’s not about her diet?”

A pony wearing oversized glasses beneath a curly mess of red hair tried to get the instructor’s attention.

“Yes, Twist!” her teacher said, looking relieved.

“Um, um,” the redhead stalled, “do Diamond Dogth have frienth?”

“What a good question!” the teacher said, beaming. She turned to me. “Do you have friends, Hound Pepper?”

Sheesh. Ponies and their one-trick minds. “I have more than just friends,” I told them. “I have a pack. We all look out for each other, and work for the good of the whole. Every Diamond Dog in the pack can trust every other one. None of them goes around trying to win fame or control over each other. We just give what we can and do whatever we do best to help the pack succeed as a unit. That’s what it means to be a Diamond Dog.”

Twist looked confused. “Oh. Um, but who are your frienth?”

I didn’t understand what she meant. We of the pack were all knit together into one!

“But like, is there a dog you share thecrets with?” the little pony lisped, “or a dog you make spethial promithes with that you’ll alwayth be together no matter what?”

The question was absurd. “Why would I keep secrets from the rest of the pack?” I shot back. “That’s little better than deception. It weakens us all. And Diamond Dogs don’t need to swear oaths. What kind of nasty, dishonest folk would have a special type of language just to show that they aren’t lying!?” My voice got a bit too barky toward the end there.

Twist shrank back into her seat and squeaked, “thorry, Hound Pepper.”

After another stretch of silence an especially tiny pegasus with glasses and a rhinestone tiara raised her hoof.

“Ah… yes!” the teacher said, pointing to her, then raised an eyebrow. “Zipporwhill? What are you doing here? You’re not starting school until next year, little filly. Do your parents know where you are?”

“I came because I heard about the doggy!” the pony said, undaunted. “She’s so pretty! Can I pet her?”

The teacher looked back and forth from me to the pup, embarrassed. “Zipporwhill, Hound Pepper isn’t like the doggies we keep as pets. She’s like a pony. You can’t just go up and pet a pony.”

The pup deflated. “Oh…”

Well, I was supposed to be getting ponies to like us, and I’d been tanking so far. At least this would be better than eating bugs.

“It’s fine,” I said, kneeling down and beckoning to Zipporwhill. “Come here, pup.”

Though the two adult ponies looked anxious, the little crowned pegasus let out a happy giggle and bounded over to me without a second thought. She fluttered up to my head, buried her face in one of my jowls, and began cooing about how it was so sad that I didn’t have any friends and how she would be my friend if I wanted.

When I just stood there and allowed the pup to cling to me, a couple other students got bold and walked over too. The dam broke a minute after that, and I was soon being prodded, grabbed and petted by the whole class.

So here’s something I learned about ponies today: being petted by them is awful. It feels like being lightly beaten and scraped by the dirty blade of a very small shovel. I don’t know how their own dumb dogs put up with it.

The teacher finally stepped in and pried them off of me when a couple started tugging my tail, and then dismissed the pups for recess.

“I’m really glad you could visit, Miss… Hound,” she said once the class was empty. “Young ponies are just so boisterous and full of energy! I think they really like you.” She looked imploringly at the rainbow pony, who was pretending to ignore me now that the pups were gone. “If you’d like to stay for the rest of the day, that’d be just fine.”

“Sorry,” the pegasus said, “I can only stay for a little while longer. I’ll take Zipporwhill home, then I got to get back to work. When I go, Hound Pepper goes.”

That was more than fine with me! I didn’t want to be in this stuffy pony-smelling schoolhouse one moment longer. I told them there was no need to wait around for me, excused myself and went outside into the fresh air.

The pups were running around all over the place, laughing and squealing or playing little games a lot like our own pups do, but with a lot less digging and wrestling. None of them were paying attention to me.

Good! I needed a break to work off some of the pent-up stress that comes from dealing with ponies. I picked up a nice long, straight branch from the ground, broke off the smaller limbs and peeled off the bark near one end to represent the blade. Nothing relaxes me quite like spear exercises.

I went through the routine from memory, flowing through turns, thrusts, feints, spins and reversals with the grace of years of practice. With each strike, I imagined I was plunging the spearhead between the belly scales of a dragon, or under the base of its wing, or right into its big slitted eye. That’s what I should have been doing, not hanging around here making nice with a bunch of ponies.

I got so caught up in the motions, I didn’t notice the crowd of pony pups watching me until I nearly hit one.

“Wowwww…” a pup said, as I stopped the stick an inch from his chubby face. “That was so cool!

“It’s like she’s dancing!” said another, stomping her feet (which I later learned was the pony version of the high-wag.)

A few others had already found sticks of their own and were trying to imitate me. It was really sad to watch. Ponies don’t have anything like the agility we have on two feet, and they can barely hold their sticks without opposable digits. A scrawny one ran at me, giggling, and tried to hit me with the point of his ‘spear’.

Now there was something I never expected a pony to try, especially on a creature eight times his size! I disarmed the upstart with a flick of my own weapon, snatched him off the ground with one paw and brought his face level with mine. A hush fell over the pups.

“That was the clumsiest spearwork I’ve ever seen, pup!” I growled. “If I was a bad dog, you’d be kibble by now!”

He whimpered and covered his face with his hooves.

Something moved me. Maybe it was how the tiny pony attacking the big dog was like how I wanted to fight the dragons. Maybe it was the same look of excitement I’d seen on Diamond Dog pups the first time they held a weapon. Maybe the Alphas were right after all, and we’re all of the same pack. Heck, if we’re going for long shots, maybe it was my maternal instincts finally getting in gear.

Whatever it was, I set him back on the ground, picked up his little stick, and held it out to him. “How about I teach you ponies how to do it right?” I said, tail swinging back and forth.

The pups cheered.

“Miss… um, Hound Pepper!” the teacher called to me. “Just what is going on here?”

I ignored her for the moment. “Don’t let your spear dip, Apple Bloom,” I barked. “Remember, angle upward beneath the breastbone then stab right through the heart!”

“Cutie Mark Crusaders Lancers, yay!” she and a couple other ponies yelled.

“Everypony, stop this roughhousing at once!” the teacher ordered, then turned to me again. “What are you doing? Why are my students hitting each other with sticks? —Ouch! Featherweight!”

“Bring the point over your head as you turn, Featherweight,” I admonished my star pupil. “If you swing it around your side it’s just going to smack into something.”

“Hound Pepper!”

I finally gave the noisy pony my attention.

“What are you making my ponies do?” she said, red-faced.

Wasn’t it obvious? “I am helping fill some major gaps in their education,” I said.

“We’re going to be really strong and tough and go fight the evil dragons!” Scootaloo crowed.

“Nopony is going to learn to hurt anypony at my school!” the teacher scolded. “Now put those sticks down and come back inside at once. Recess is over.”

A great ‘aww’ rose from the pups, but they did as they were told and filed back into the building. As the last one entered, the teacher stood at the door, staring daggers at me and fuming.

“You know,” she said, “I believed it when I heard that you dogs don’t kidnap ponies anymore. I would never have let you near my little fillies and colts otherwise.”

I tried to tell her that the ‘fighting dragons’ part was purely voluntary.

“No. I don’t mean that.” She said. “There are so many bad things out there. I don’t want my little ponies enticed into a life of fighting and struggling and pain. The princesses keep the bad things out so we can live in peace here. If monsters want to tear each other to pieces, they should stay in their own part of the world and do it and leave us alone.”

She turned to re-enter her schoolhouse. “Don’t you ever come back here again or I’ll call the guard.”

Ponies! What can you do? I guess the pups aren’t so bad, but you’ve got to train them early.

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Comments ( 4 )

Cutie Mark Crusaders Good Hound Scouts, YAY!

>kingdom of Diamondia

So, does this take Friends Forever #6 as canon?

Yep, that's the same Diamondia. That's the only one of the comics I expect to actually be important to the plot, though there's also a throwaway reference to the pirate arc of the main comic in chapter 6.

The next chapter might be a little while in coming; I'm currently making yet another attempt at continuing Mare Doloris right now.

This is such an interesting take on ponies as much as it is on Diamond dogs. It makes them very insular, panicky herd animals, without them seeming too different. Cheerilee here seems, quite frankly, close-minded and bigoted, and while that is not something most people would associate with her character, it still feels like Cheerilee, rather than a different character with her name latched on.

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