by Quintas von Ortlas
The mythic relationship between Foundchild and Brother Dog is a mythic one replayed through Balazar in thousands of places every day. It is one that civilized men such as us cannot fully understand and am I left unsure if I want to.
Why do I say this? because to most Balazarings the clear and obvious distinction between human and dog is somewhat blurred. To a civilized mind a dog is an asset, a pet, a tool, a servant or even a friend. But to most Balazarings a dog is family, and to a dog a balazaring is part of its pack.
I am always tempted to view the humans as masters and the dogs as pets in a hierarchical relationship which is not one of equals. This would be foreign a foreign concept to most Balazarings and their dog companions. Though they would not use these words to them the relationship is a mutually symbiotic partnership of equals.
To both parties their very existence in unthinkable without the other, to their mind they are Kin, they are a substantial and permanent part of each others social structures for generation upon generation. A balazaring separated from his dogs is just as lost as an Orlanthi separated from his sheep clan.
Both parties gain significantly from the relationship;
For the Balazaring he gains speed and physical attributes which as a human do not posses, they has his security increased by guard dogs, he gains the ability to track quickly by scent, he can access burrows and other places which as a human he cannot and magical effect of a larger social grouping means that dogs contribute to the spiritual power and capability of his clan.
For the dog he gains insight and intelligence he cannot possess, he gains shelter and access to heat sources, he part of a much larger social unit than he could otherwise be part of, his social unit is much better lead than an exclusive dog pack would be, and he gains access to magical effects which otherwise would be alien to him.
Before coming to Balazar I had been informed that Balazarings had two types of dogs, this information is not incorrect but it is highly simplistic, and upon experience I would describe it as three broad different functions of dogs, with certain distinctions and a mix of breed for each function.
Most Balazaring clans will have a good mix of different types and breeds of dogs, but the balance will change to meet the traditions, spiritual dynamics, hunting styles and needs of the clan. It is worth noting that the Dogs of Saird and the dogs of Balazar are distinctly different in breed and the breeds rarely get on and tend to fight.
The most common use of dogs by Balazarings is for hunting. Hunting dogs spend most of their time with the male hunters and little time with the women and children.
Hunting with dogs can take a number of forms and there is great variation in differing breeds capabilities and sizes of dog.
Tracking Dogs – The most common use of dog is for scent tracking prey, these come in two distinct types, there are pack tracking dogs where a pack will scent track its prey whilst making large amounts of noise and panicking the prey before running it down. The ubiquitous Stavac is most often used for this style of hunting.
However for a stealthy pursuit Balazarings are more prone to use one or two larger Pachu who have a better sense of smell but who cannot maintain speed over longer distances for a chase, these dogs tend to be used only for the tracking and the hunter tends to make the kill.
Chasing Dogs – The Stavac is often used a very functional pack dog for chasing down herds an running one or two animals into trouble, however do not have the explosive pace needed to bring down faster animals or the size or bravery to tackle larger beast such as bison.
For these tasks Balazarings tend to use either the larger Tiplav for a high speed pursuit and to hamstring and pull down faster prey. Or the bulkier Mistro which is not as fast but is more effective against large slow prey animals.
Retrievers – For hunters who use bows or slings to bring down small game, there are a number of dogs which are used as retrieving dogs. The Stavac is common choice but the best retrieving dog is the Kausta, because of its quiet nature, intelligence and soft mouth
Game Flushing Dogs – The Stavac excels when used as a pack to flush and herd animals towards pits, nets or hunters line of fire. No other breed of dog comes close and this is probably why they are so common in Balazar
Underground Dogs – Some clans use dogs to chase smaller animals out or their dens and burrows, these dogs tend to be small squat and pugnacious, the most famous of these breeds is the Ruzno which could take on a fair sized badger.
Guard dogs spend most of their time guarding over the women and children of the clan, either at the hearth of when they are out gathering food.
The Mistro breed is often used for the combative element of the task, however a smaller less aggressive breed called the Ucho is used due to its significantly better hearing and general awareness. Also the Stavac is often used because of their ubiquitous nature and they are apparently very good with children.
Very few groups of gatherers will leave the clan hearth without at least 3 or 4 dogs as guards
There are not many fighting dogs within each balazaring clan and most usually belong to the Chieftans hearth, they are used in raids and to hunt dangerous animals such as bears, wolves and mountain tigers.
Brudny – A very large shaggy white haired breed of dog, used for fighting. Its size, reach and speed make it an awkward opponent
Kausta – A quiet natured small to medium sized long haired thin yellow dog, with long ears and pointed face
Mistro – A large strong athletic dog similar to a large German shepherd. Very loyal to their pack but can be aggressive with outsiders.
Pachu- Large thin longhaired brown dogs with a slight frame and ungainly gate, but have an excellent sense of smell, and are the best scent trackers in Balazar.
Ruzno – Small Squat vicious dog, with short black fur with brown markings and a pug nose. With strong jaws neck and shoulders.
Stavac – Most common Balazaring dog, it is medium sized hunting dog with short brown fur with white markings. It has a pointed nose and a sleek body. It is a bright energetic dog used for a number of different roles and is very loyal to its family.
Tesak – A shorthaired brown and back large muscular dog with wide shoulders and no tail, with a squat face and powerful jaws
Tiplav – Large strong sleek black running dog who is an excellent stag hunter, they are extremely fast over short distances, but big enough to pull a stag down, if not finish it off.
Ucho – A medium sized dog in a range of shades of brown and black, with strong upright ears , this breed has a excellent sense of hearing and is probably the most complex audible communicator with a wide range of meaningful howls, whines and noises.
Please note that from bitters experience that offering to buy a Balazarings dog often is highly rude and is likely to cause a fight. Also the offer of a new pup is a great complement and is only usually made to clan mates and very close trusted friends.