It's come down to armed conflict, finally, and you anticipate engaging your enemy in hand-to-hand combat soon. Who do you want to guard your back? Even the most stalwart human friend has in numerous occasions turned out to be untrue, as many a villain has discovered, and though you may subdue your underlings so they will not openly challenge your authority, as soon as your attention is drawn away, they may likely become your weakest point. What you need is a sturdy group of hounds at your side, ready to take on all threats to the pack which you now head, so inflamed with the sense of solidarity that nothing your adversary can throw up in their faces will make them quail. But to earn the trust of a set of unknown canines is something you cannot do at the last minute, but must carefully craft like every other part of your warfighting plans. We present some important aspects of war dog husbandry here in hopes that it will make the process more of a science than an obscure dark art.
- The importance of breed. While all dogs are genetically of the same species, the wide variation in physical capabilities and in temperament make certain breeds stand out when it comes to combat worthiness. The working breeds traditionally developed for the hunt and for herding have worked the best under close supervision, while the toy breeds and fancy show varieties are less likely to stand up to the rigors of conflict. The upkeep associated with the more massive breeds both in terms of feeding and exercise requirements makes them difficult to adapt to an army on the move. Psychologically, too, one wishes to communicate an air of menace rather than one of lighthearted frolics or frivolous amusements.
- Consistent training. The majority of the hard work when it comes to dogs of war is in the preparation. Most prefer to start with young puppies who learn obedience, spoken and silent commands, maneuvers, and working with their trainer free of any previous imprinting. Then when they graduate this part of their training, the dogs learn the detailed plans for their mission alongside the members of their combat team and any other dogs who will be participating. They need to have a reward and discipline schedule much the same way your other minions do, using food rewards in the early stages and more substantial pleasure center stimulation as the behavior being reinforced becomes more elaborate.
- The support team. These are the minions who will be detailed to provide for the dogs' physical needs, watch for any issues which might arise, and provide enough stimulation between missions to keep the animals happy and alert. There needs to be sufficient staff to keep at least one support team member in among the dogs at all times.
- The call to arms. This usually goes out in audible fashion with the entire pack baying their rallying cry, though olfactory communication is also effective in times when this is not desired (see Ninja canines, below).
- The objectives. Combat roles are fairly straightforward as are guard duty. Search missions where the animal goes into the field to track their quarry require specialized preparation on the part of the handler who will interpret the dog's actions.
- The hierarchy. There is just one alpha of each sex in any task force, with any other dogs being assigned distinct ranks beneath the lead based on the degree of physical condition, toughness, and cybernetic enhancements.
Strokes of genius
- Dog supervillains. You may have an exceptionally endowed animal with an aptitude for carrying out complex capers and enjoying the resulting profit from them. The big advantage is that your adversaries are predisposed to discount a dog supervillain's capabilities at first, allowing what amounts to a free pass the first time they are encountered.
- Walks. The way a dog of war takes a walk leaves utter destruction in its wake, when it has been properly executed. So that you can be assured of this outcome, you should form associations in the dog's mind with the types of items likely to be encountered in the setting, rewarding the animal when the desired berserk rage has been manifested. On these kinds of walks, nobody expects the handler to have picked up after the dog.
- Water missions. Some dogs relish the chance to take a dip, which provides the opportunity to include them when storming beaches or fording enemy streams in the line of duty. These tend to be members of those breeds with oversize paws and an insulating coat. Allow a chance for the animal to dry off completely between immersions so as to avoid skin problems.
- Disguises. It is difficult, though not entirely impossible, to make a war dog look like anything other than a dog. If yours is a shapeshifting type of course the range of possibilities opens up considerably.
- Robotic dogs. The artificial hound is one well beloved by comic book artists, small children, and visiting extraterrestrials. Most designs feature a steel trap bite, fully autonomous operation, and armored construction, with some more fanciful ones adding things like built-in rocket propulsion and force field generators, which can prove to be quite a sensation on the field of battle. The same kind of considerations pertain to mutant hounds, alien canids, and undead pseudo-dogs.
- Ninja canines. If the action takes place in the dead of night, with infiltration as the main aim, you need to set the dog up with a matte black costume and pads on the feet to silence all sound, with special attention to suppressing any vocalization which might jeopardize the undercover operation. Of course an ability to ascend sheer walls and rapell down zip lines are among the skills which you will need to inculcate, as they rarely come naturally to most dogs.
Traps for mere fools
- Unspayed and neutered animals. There is no reason to worry about a decline in the ferocity of your pack, especially with the ease you can provide hormone replacement therapies.
- Fleas and other parasites.
- Requiring too much at once.
- Alien cats.
- Howling at the moon. Very rarely is this directed in a manner which will further your military goals.
Precious and needful
- Dog tags.
- Dog helmets.
- Little dog uniforms.
- Grooming supplies.
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- Image credit K9 by Glamhag
- Image credit Doggles for military working dog by The U.S. Army
- Image credit DJ Cavera presents the underdog mixtape by Nar8iv / Scott W
Created by: . Last Modification: Sunday 11 of December, 2011 06:35:31 EST by .