Vital Training Mission
by Evan Kent
D-Dog shrank under Revolver Ocelot's scowl. The hound was stubborn. Wouldn’t stay on the damn treadmill. He could identify useful herbs, pick out hostages in the middle of a gunfight, and was even getting pretty good with that knife, but running in place was the one thing he couldn’t seem to master. A complete breakdown of field discipline. Ocelot’s frown broke at the thought, curling into a frustrated smirk.
The whole thing was kind of laughable.
The base engineers had certainly chuckled at the order for a doggy treadmill. But the stakes in this line of work were always life or death.
The pup may have been born in scorching Afghanistan, but by now was probably accustomed to the balmy weather Mother Base experienced year-round. Big Boss often had to run miles at a brisk pace in triple digit heat to get from one area of operations to the next, and D-Dog was going to have to be able to keep pace. The weight of body armor and mission equipment certainly wasn’t going to make that easier. Soldiers die for stupid reasons every day, and Ocelot was certainly not going to let a lack of regular cardio for Boss's littlest buddy be one of them.
An excited bark brought the major out of his musings.
Looking over, he saw Bronze Badger clenching his jaw in a concerted effort to not play with the puppy. Badger was, after all, still in the presence of a superior officer. Ocelot waved with a grunt and Badger immediately dropped down to a knee, cooing and rubbing D-Dog's belly. D-Dog, for his part, always soaked up every drop of attention the men gave him (and they gave him enough to spoil him rotten). As Ocelot watched, a thought occurred to him and a grin spread across his face. Maybe he could put both of them to work.
When Big Boss returned to base an hour or so later, he found a man at each corner of the Command Platform eagerly beckoning to a sprinting D-Dog, only to stand stock still as the wolfdog got close. Each time, the next soldier down would start hollering affectionately, causing the pup to immediately start off in his direction instead.
Proudly supervising all of this was one stern, greying gunslinger. Curious and more than a little amused, Big Boss tapped him on the shoulder inquisitively. “So, tell me about this game. Something you whipped up for patrol duty?”
Ocelot grinned back. “Game?” He replied, “This is vital mission training.” ◒