Dogs in Aligare

The world of Aligare has its distinctive fantasy races, but it also has many familiar Earth creatures. I did that to avoid spending a ton of energy reinventing wheels, and to lighten the reader’s burden of new concepts.

For instance, Aligare has some animals that stand about 3 feet/1 meter tall at the shoulder, eat meat, live in packs and communicate in loud cries. If I said these things are called lunines or yappits or worfs, the reader would need to keep reminding themselves of what the term meant. And they’ll probably think, “It’s like a fantasy dog.” So I thought, heck, let’s save everyone the trouble and call it a dog. I don’t think the dog-role creature loses anything by simply being a dog — as opposed to the peoplekinds, who are non-human for many reasons.

Anyway. The point is that Aligare society has domestic dogs.

 

johnny_automatic_collie_dog

Dogs met the peoplekinds through aemets. Unlike humans, aemet instincts are heavily skewed toward the “flight” aspect of “fight or flight”. If they’re not able to escape from a threat, they’re unlikely to be able to defend themselves. At some point, someone found orphaned wolf pups and thought it would be a good idea to care for these creatures — after all, they already live in family groups and protect their own. Maybe they would be willing to accept aemets into their families. Those wolves were bred for temperament until the distinct dog race showed itself. In more modern Aligare times, aemets still keep the majority of dogs, but they’re also available to ferrin or korvi. Ferrin tend to get along especially well with dogs, since ferrin are fluent in the scent and body language cues that dogs use.

 

Since they’re viewed as non-sentient friends, not mere tools, Aligare dogs haven’t been so intensively bred as Earth dogs. There aren’t any toy breeds, or highly refined breeds like the dachshund. Dogs are still quite similar to their wolf cousins in body size and physical ability, just with gentler personalities and slightly floppy ears. They have a thick coat of fur for protection, in mottled patterns of black and dark brown.

 

And like wolves, dogs are born with darkcasting magic. It’s used to blur their form and hide in shadows. That’s useful for the wolf, but not so much for the dog unless it’s hunting its own dinner. Dogs’ darkcasting abilities haven’t received much attention in the breeding process: dogs are simply taught not to disappear into the forest. The only time Aligare society pays much attention to dogs’ darkcasting is if a dog gets injured, because it means they need darkcasting healing. Mismatched bright healing would endanger their health even more.

 

To match aemets’ original intent, dogs are working animals and they’re often taught to be guard dogs. Aemets are instinctively nervous of being alone, so a well-trained dog can often give them the confidence to live alone or travel by themselves. In Render, Rue is given the young dog Feor, who knows many basic commands and is trained to a guard ring. This piece of jewelry is made of juniper wood so it has a distinctive scent. Like many other guard dogs, Feor has been taught from a young age that the holder of his guard ring is the one he must protect. Rue is his preferred master, but if she gives the guard ring to someone else, Feor will obediently follow that newly-marked leader and defend them with his life.

 

So in Aligare, dogs aren’t common, casual pets. Their carnivorous diet is a burden to be taken seriously, and they must be matched with the right peoplekind companions. But there are still dogs in the Aligare streets, and they have the same friendly, devoted spirit as the dogs we know.

 

On Monday, I’ll blog about the legend of Juniper. Dogs’ guard rings are made of juniper wood for a reason — a reason held in an old aemet legend.


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