Saturday, September 24, 2011

More About Dogs

Since I just made a post about dogs, prepare yourself for some dogs.

You probably know several yourself.  They've been domesticated for a long time, ever since our ancestors started leaving scraps for the wolves by the campfires.  Eventually, those wolves started following us around and considering us packmates, and the rest is history.

Dogs are primarily known as workers — they have some capabilities that we do not, are differently shaped (and therefore suited to different tasks), and have the advantage of being considered expendible (by some).  If you don't have enough money for a nanny or a bodyguard, or if you live in a society without extensive security systems, get a dog.

Basically: dogs are useful in any preindustrial society.  This includes the medieval era, and thusly extends to the pseudo-medieval fantasy of D&D.  Dogs are on equipment lists for a reason.

So, with that in mind, I have some stuff for you.  Zak Smith has some stuff about dogs, and he links to some stuff about dogs at Monsters and Manuals.  I also found another article at Tower of the Archmage about dogs in D&D.

Tales of military dogs also show how dogs are still used.  To put this in perspective, farming might look basically the same as it did when it was first developed, in the sense that water is diverted to fields to grow plants.  However, we've made many strides since then.  A Mesopotamian farmer wouldn't recognize a modern farm because we do a lot of weird things to increase yield, prevent pests, and suchlike; even the crops themselves wouldn't look familiar (he's never seen a tomato, and he's probably never seen plants of the size and variety that we grow today).  We domesticated dogs a similarly long time ago (estimates vary, but we can at least all agree on that magic "birth of civilization at 10,000 B.C." date), and they're basically the same.  Some of the breeds are strange-looking by ancient standards, but that farmer would presumably recognize and be able to train a modern dog.  (For a further analogy, consider your computer.  It'll be obsolete in a year or two, but your dog has remained basically unchanged for millennia.)

And finally, dogs have one use that we don't readily consider in the modern West: a food source (though even your fake-European characters might take to eating those war dogs if you've run out of supplies on some frozen steppe).  Well, the attitude about dog-eating in China is changing, and an annual dog-eating festival is coming to an end.

Hopefully, something in there will be useful to you.

1 comment:

  1. Got dags - d'yeh like dags?
    Yeh, dags.
    Dags, d'yeh like dags?
    Oh, dogs. Sure, I like dags.


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