Canine Personalities

An interesting article, People In Venezuela Are Abandoning Their Dogs Because They Can’t Afford Food, granted me — who owns no pets, and basically believes that animals should be either kept outside the home or cooked and prepared on the dinner table — a bit of insight into canine (read Vargr) personalities.

Celo was given her name because she was left outside the shelter in the middle of her fertile stage. “When the volunteers arrived, the place was a mess,” Silva said. “All the males, although they were castrated, were going crazy.”

An interesting insight, this.

Quite a lot of Noble Houses in history has used eunuchs as palace servants, as the Noble in question can trust these men to not chase his women, or slip in a ringer into his family line. Well, the second is true, but I wonder about the first…

(And even the second is up for grabs, given the state of biotech in the late fourth/early fifth millennium!)

“She suffered a stroke and although she never recovered completely, she is a very good guard dog. She lives outside of the shelter and when someone approaches, she starts barking.”

To their credit, the Vargr can and do understand what the cost of duty is… and are willing to pay the price. But even I, with no familiarity with canines, knew that!

“She was the posh girl of the shelter, she didn’t like to get her feet wet. All dogs used to attack her and because of that, she did not like to come out of her home.”

Ah, this is a new one to me – fancy-ancy Vargr females. Ah well, perhaps I should have known that females are females, at least so far as mammals are concerned.

“He was full of worms, literally, eating him alive, but after a week of medication and care, he finally started to eat well and is recovering.”

A hard life can strike any sentient, even any animal (actually, even plants!)

It’s the will to live, the willingness to fight, to grab onto even a shred of hope (a real hope, in this case), that interests me. The sick Vargr that should have died five years ago still holds out for the sake of his pack; the plant, struggling on a rock, still pushes his roots into the limestone, fracturing it.

“The loving but fearful dog did not like to leave the space where she slept, even to eat.” La China died in the week after the photo was taken.

Due primarily to the nature of the God I worship, I actually do believe in the power of love… but even love has hard limits. It’s a tough universe.

Also, dogs — like Vargr — are social animals. And despite being carnivores, they can be fearful and cringing, especially in social situations. If the master/alpha dog keeps on beating on a low-status pack member, things aren’t going to turn out well mentally for the dog at the bottom of the pack hierarchy.

El Mocho was given his name after he lost his leg in a road accident. “He used to live in a kennel inside the shelter, but a few months ago escaped and now likes living on the street in front of the shelter. He has a very bad temper – he always runs behind bikes, barks at cars, and bites people who walk near him.”

Merely losing a leg isn’t going to slow down a mean old dog.

I can definitely see such a Vargr make a challenge to someone he really shouldn’t be picking a fight with. Due to his weakness, the outcome is likely to be ugly: but if said Vargr – a hardened and experienced fighter – spots a weakness he can exploit, there is the real chance of an upset.

Win or lose, he’s going to make a challenge, though: no matter the odds. It’s what he does; it’s who he is.

Definitely a Vargr character I can work with in a game!

“She is very calm and never fights with anyone, but she is afraid of people. When someone approaches her, she immediately reacts as if they were going to beat her.”

Vargr inside the Hegemony of Lorean – an intensely anti-Vargr culture (but more into domestication than extermination) – are going to turn out differently than Vargr outside of the Hegemony.

“He was brought to the shelter by a neighbor called Alvaro after he saw a car run him over. He was in a very bad condition and almost died, but instead of putting him down, it was decided to give him a few days and wait to see if he could recover.”

Sometimes, after a nasty lost, even as death draws near, there is still a glimmer of hope. What happens then often defines a man… or even a Vargr.

Ojitos was given her name because of her blue eyes. “She arrived at the shelter two years ago and from the very first moment has always been very loving. She never fights with the others. She has been offered up for adoption on many occasions, but no one wanted to keep her.”

Times are hard: but actually, the odds are better for Ojitos finding a new master than for most. In hard places, you need fighting ability: but in the cities and the wealthy lands, social skills are key.

Most of the time.

“He did not have a bad temper, but the bigger dogs always attacked him.”

Perhaps the bigger dogs always attack him because they smelled the weakness of a chronic victim.

She arrived at the shelter two years ago and is very playful. She loves water. Whenever she can, she gets inside a bucket or bowl with water. If she lived in a house with a pool, she would never come out of it.”

Some dogs do have a fondness for water: I used it (for Vargr) in an adventure I wrote, “Retirement” (Stellar Reaches #8).

And yes, I am still working on the latest issue…sporadically. The problem, as always, is time.

“She arrived at the shelter almost dead and completely covered with scabies, to the point that her face bled. Carita is very aggressive, attacks any dog who is close, and during fights has killed several. So now she has to live locked in a kennel.”

Yes, the female is the born killer in this pack. Remember: female dogs are not particularly weaker then the males, and females dogs (and Vargr) do hunt and kill.

That’s what they were born to do.

“Got pups to feed, and threats to neutralize.”

Then again, that dog now lives locked in a kennel, while the other dogs get some fresh air and sunlight.

In the Wilds, killers can thrive: but on the Civilized Worlds – a.k.a. outside of the Empty Quarter 1 – they need to get more subtle and intelligent, or move to the ghettos and the no-go zones (a.k.a. “the Inner Wilds”), or get a patron who can provide legal cover.

“She was one of the most spoiled in the shelter, but barks at everything all the time.” Brisa was adopted two days after this photograph.

More often than you care to admit, the Queen Bitch gets to win. Again.

Pichurra is an elderly dog and a long-term resident of the shelter: “She is extremely calm, never fights with anyone, nor does she bark. In fact, at mealtimes the volunteers have to be very alert because if any other dog steals her food she would not complain.”

Some Vargr really aren’t meant to live in Vargr society. Perhaps they are just too deeply rebuilt by human geneticists to survive outside of peaceful, lawful cultures…

“She has never been given up for adoption because she is very nervous. When someone approaches, she begins to whine and react immediately. She never fights with anyone, but she likes stealing food from the other dogs.”

Ever wonder why the Vargr are so good at scrounging, at making things ‘appear’ when they are needed? Well, teeth and claws aren’t the only way to earn a living among the Vargr…

Mama was left outside the shelter with her litter of puppies. “All of them were taken for adoption but nobody wanted to take her. Mama is old and almost blind, so she does not leave the place where she sleeps and does not share with any other dogs.”

You know, when you old and worn and unwanted… but you know that all of your pups are safe… there’s no real need to go far from your bed. Soon, it will be time for a last long nap.

“She is both independent and feisty. She barks at all dogs and has a bad temper. When it is mealtime, no one can be near her.”

Maybe she’ll be cast off from her pack. Maybe she’ll be the last survivor. Maybe she’ll build her own pack. Hard to say at this stage…

“Everyone who comes to the shelter falls in love with him because he is extremely loving, always happy, and wants to play. He always wants to be near people.”

A model for the idealized Irilitok Vargr: “rebuilt by humans, for humans”. One thing about pet species: they tend to vastly outnumber their kin in the wild. This is true enough in the Empty Quarter, where the bloodthirsty Suedzuk has been largely destroyed by the Hegemony, while the Vilanized Ovaghoun – while quite wealthy and politically powerful – have fewer and fewer pups, every generation.

In contrast, the Irilitok — “Julian Vargr” — easily number in the hundreds of billions across the Julian Protectorate, and are likely to be around for a long, long time.

There’s even a real chance that they may outlast their human (ex)masters: not because they would ever overthrow them (I wonder if the Irilitok are even able of conceiving such an action, after their brains and instincts have been so extensively rewired…), but because they are so useful and easy to direct. Few people smash useful tools, or kill happy, obedient servants who are eager to please.


1 Of course, I’m including Alpha Quadrant – dominated by a very wealthy Vilani/Vargr culture – as part of the Civilized Worlds.

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About Alvin Plummer

I'm working to build a better world, a world that blesses Christ and is blessed by Him. I hope that you're doing the same!
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