Man, these blogs can be a pain in the ass. I have absolutely nothing prepared, what with vacation laziness still in place. We didn't go to the mountains, we went to Lake of the Ozarks, a family friend owns a forested area out there. No electricity, no running water, no people. Just us, gorgeous scenery, and a forest packed with animals and plants. We bring dogs to scare off the predators, they are interesting animals. I've grown up with dogs my whole life. I'm from the country and most of them were working dogs.
Normally, we take two experienced dogs with us, and a little runt dog for a noise maker. The dogs themselves determine the work load. If you bring more then 4, two will work as runners and the other two will act as guards. The guards won't leave the camp, they will just stay awake all night and bark at anything that they don't like, alerting the two runners who work together to flank whatever is out there. One is quiet, while the other is loud, but I think that that depends on the breed of the dog. Huskies are silent hunters, they don't make a noise until they attack, while the other dog of a mixed breed is rather verbal.
Our main husky isn't doing so hot, he's getting old and he just couldn't make the trip, so we brought a younger husky with us who hasn't been out there for a couple of years and doesn't know what it's doing yet.
Boots, the female mixed breed at one time was beta female, but because of deaths, she has had to become an alpha. She is very interesting to watch. She has always been a really expressive dog, but now, because of circumstance, she has had to become more aggressive. The other dogs have given her all of the authority and you can watch her struggle with it. At this time we have no Alpha Male, like I said, he is to old, so she has to do both jobs.
Dogs train the younger dogs who are of age. Children are also considered to be part of the pack, but the dogs don't discipline then, nor the puppies if they have any. Children and puppies are kept within the perimeter determined by the alpha, who marks it out with urine. Only runners are allowed beyond this perimeter, though the dogs are expected to keep the perimeter clean, they go to the bathroom on, or a little bit outside of the perimeter. If a puppy or child leaves the perimeter, one of the dogs will always go with it and keep a weathered eye, but always try to guide the little one back to the camp.
It's quite funny to watch, the kid is complaining because the dog won't get of the way, and the dog just keeps herding him right back to where he wants to leave. Most of the time, the kids slept in the camper, were they could be a bit safer if a cougar decided to pull some shit, or if a bear wandered into camp, however we let them sleep with us in the tent for a couple of nights, and this disturbed the dogs. One of the dogs was assigned to sleep with them and whined and cried all night when they weren't there.
Thumper, the youngest and inexperienced dog got in trouble a couple of times. During the night he decided to chase after a deer, he was gone for a half an hour and we were all hollering for him to come back. When he finally did, boy did he get it from Boots. She kicked his ass, even though Thumper is bigger then she is, but Boots always lets him know who the boss is. Boots would actually mount him from time to time, just to establish dominance. Thumper, of course, will one day be an Alpha-Male, but only once Boots says that he is ready.
Where am I going with all of this? Well, dogs have always been an important part of life, especially in the middle ages. The breeds were all different, the bulldog, for instance, looks nothing like the ones that we currently give the name to, today they are genetically broken, but their ancestors were more like mastiffs. Powerfully muscled beasts who were used to force domesticated beasts of burden into submission. They could either replace the bull, or boss the bull around themselves.
Large dogs, and Medium sized dogs would benefit the adventurer, he would only need to train one dog, or buy one trained dog who would make a good Alpha animal, this Alpha dog can teach other dogs how to perfect their trade quicker then any human can. Trained dogs can protect a camp as long as there are at least 3, and they can do this all night, but do require rest during the day. These dogs should be well taken care of, and treated as equals of the party. Most animals will always yield to them, but they do have ways of dealing with ones that won't.
Dogs do enjoy being useful, this is what gives them pleasure, and it is a shame that DM's and Players alike don't utilize these creatures properly. A dog is an effective fighter, they can work together with each other, and are loyal and brave companions who are ideally suited for a life of adventure. They can also track better then even the most skilled ranger. Dogs are amazing and sturdy animals that can add even more options to a party.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
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