The Hound Mastery chapter of the Stormwind Army Field Manual gives an overview of types of war hounds, handling them, and their role in the Royal Army. Hound mastery is the learned skillful training of domesticated dogs into the obedient, protective, fierce, and resourceful war hounds seen on the battlefield. It is teaching your hound to resist its natural instincts without breaking their spirit through domination. It is building a bond of companionship that transcends all barriers.
- Lord Thomas Reignsford, Knight-Lieutenant of the First Regiment.
- Duke Maxen Montclair, Marshal of the Elwynn Brigade.
Bonds were built between man and wild canines since the tribal days of humanity. First tamed from wild wolves, hounds were valuable companions as not only could they help humans hunt, but they could also detect threats with their superior senses. As the human tribes banded together to form civilizations with standing armies, it was inevitable that a dog’s usefulness in war would be utilized.
Hounds have been recorded in war as early as the Arathorian Empire. During the Troll Wars, hounds were used to locate roving Troll war parties. Records even indicated that at some of the more distant outposts, hounds were chained to walls to warn of impending attacks. The Arathorian Legion often clad their hounds in coats of mail armor and spiked collars, sending columns of these war hounds in first to break the enemy ranks, shortly followed by their spear-bearing handlers, and then the Arathorian cavalry.
Originally from Arathor, the mastiffs in Stormwind have interbred occasionally with local wolves. Several generations of breeding with wolves and selective breeding have led to a variety of hounds not often seen in other parts of the world. Though some mastiff purebreds still do exist. Hounds in Stormwind have been used for a multitude of purposes, be it hunting, herding, companionship, protection, and cargo inspection. War hounds are still used amongst the Royal Army, though not nearly to the extent of the Arathorian Empire. Soldiers with war hounds are considered specialist units, and often are assigned to reconnaissance or guard duties.
Types of Hounds Edit
Breeds of war hounds commonly available to soldiers of the Royal Army shall be described below. This is not a comprehensive list, but one of recommended breeds for their niche uses.
Gilnean Mastiff Edit
The origins of the Arathorian Warhound are unknown, but is theorized to have been a stocky wolf of the hilly Arathi Highlands that was friended and domesticated by tribal humans. The Warhound we know has a square-ish head, short muzzle, is barrel-chested, with short, muscular legs, short hair, and thick, stretchy skin. These were desirable traits the Warhound was bred to exhibit to aid in its role as a protective, war-time companion.
The Gilnean Mastiff is a direct descendant of the Arathorian Warhound, keeping many of the same traits. Its size has slightly diminished from its progenitor due to lack of large open plains and the need to run through woodland brush for hunting small game and tracking larger prey. The Mastiff is known to come in varying shades of black, gray, and brown.
Duskwood Wolfhound Edit
The tallest of the local hound breeds, the Duskwood Wolfhound was bred precisely for its namesake, hunting wolves. The Wolfhound’s usage in Duskwood only increased upon the emergence of feral Worgen. The Wolfhound bears a commanding appearance, and is remarkable in combining power and swiftness with keen sight. Wolfhounds are rough-coated and very muscular, though equally graceful, their heads and necks carried high and their tails sporting an upward sweep. The Wolfhound generally exhibits colors of varying grays and tans.
Elwynn Shepherd Edit
The Elwynn Shepherd originates from the interbreeding of Arathorian Warhounds and wolves local to the southern colony that eventually became the Kingdom of Stormwind. The Shepherd is a medium to large-sized dog with a domed forehead, a large square-cut muzzle with strong jaws, and a black nose. An Elwynn Shepherd's eyes are typically brown with a lively, intelligent, and self-assured look. Their ears are large and stand erect, open at the front and parallel, but they often are pulled back during movement. An Elwynn Shepherd has a long neck, which is raised when excited and lowered when moving at a fast pace. The tail is bushy and reaches to the hock. Shepherds are most commonly a mixture brown and black or red and black. Rarer is a pure-black variant.
Elwynn Shepherds are working dogs developed originally for herding sheep. However, because of their strength, intelligence, trainability, and obedience, Shepherds have become the preferred breed for many types of work, including search and rescue, constabulary, and military roles.
Redridge Retriever Edit
The Redridge Retriever is a large breed of dog purposed primarily to retrieve fowl game such as ducks, pheasants, and turkeys during hunting parties. They are so named for their ability to retrieve shot game undamaged. Retrievers have an instinctive love of water and are easy to train to basic and advanced obedience standards. They are a long-coated breed, with a dense inner coat that provides them with adequate warmth in the outdoors, and an outer coat that lies flat against their bodies and repels water. Retrievers are well suited to residency in village and country environments. Although they need substantial outdoor exercise, they should be housed in a fenced area because of their instinctive tendency to roam. They shed copiously, particularly at the change of seasons, and require fairly regular grooming. Color variants typically include black, gray, tan, and white. Most retrievers’ underbellies will have a lighter shade than the rest of its body.
Retrievers can be trained to be hunting dogs, detection dogs, and search and rescue assistants. The breed's friendly, gentle temperament disqualifies retrievers from being professional guard or combat hounds. The breed is fond of play but also highly trainable.
Westfall Border Collie Edit
The Border Collie is a working and herding dog breed developed in the gently rolling plains of Westfall for herding livestock, especially sheep. It was specifically bred for intelligence and obedience. Considered highly intelligent, extremely energetic, acrobatic, and athletic, collies continue to be employed in their traditional work of herding livestock throughout the kingdom.
The collie is a medium-sized dog with a moderate amount of coat, which is typically thick and sheds often. Black and grey are the most commonly seen color pattern. The breed appears in just about any color and pattern known to occur in dogs. Some of these include brown, grey, and red. While varying shades within the coat is the most common, solid single-color coats may also occur.
Hound Service Roles Edit
Over the centuries, hounds have been utilized for various roles, whether it be a specific role or for general purpose. Common roles filled by hounds in the Royal Army shall be described below. There is a significant difference in the way dogs react to their environment and individuals based on the how they are trained.
War hounds are trained to attack and defend themselves in pitched combat. Often muscular breeds such as mastiffs or shepherds, war hounds are prized for their obedience, bravery, and biting strength. Trained to recognize friend from foe, war hounds often give in to their bestial nature when attacking, refusing to let go of an enemy until they succumb to inflicted wounds. While most war hounds are trained to eventually release their foe on command, some hound masters simply allow their war hounds to maul their enemies to death without reprieve.
Sentry hounds work on a short leash and are taught to give warning by growling, alerting, or barking. Their function is to detect and attack, on command, all intruders except the handler and others who have helped care for them. They are especially useful at night when attack from cover or the rear is likely. They are trained to accompany a guard on patrol and give warning of the approach or presence of strangers within the protected area. Sentry hounds are most often found at vital holdings or any place where security against intruders must be maintained.
Patrol hounds are trained not to be disturbed by the approach of people and to discriminate between a threat and acceptance of others by the handler. They can enter an empty building to search for hidden intruders or cover an area to find a lost or concealed object. They are trained to attack at the command of their handler with the aggressiveness of a sentry hound, but unlike typical sentry and war hounds, patrol hounds can be called off the attack at any time. Patrol hounds are typically employed by the Stormwind Constabulary, but may also find usage amongst the Royal Army.
Scouting hounds are trained to work in silence to aid in the detection of snipers, ambushes, and other enemy forces within a particular area. They work nimbly off of a leash and are trained to attack on command. They are considered some of the most loyal of hounds as they must resist the urge to run freely into the wilderness in survival situations. Rangers and scouts prize these hounds as companions as much as their human comrades.
Messenger hounds are trained to travel silently and take advantage of natural cover when moving between two handlers. They are bred for speed and obedience rather than combat effectiveness. The most desired quality in messenger hounds is loyalty, since the hounds must be motivated by the desire to work with two handlers.
Search and Rescue Edit
Search and rescue hounds are specifically trained to search for and report the location of wounded or vulnerable individuals in obscure places that would otherwise be difficult for search parties to traverse. In cases of severe injuries, minutes saved in locating such casualties often mean the difference between life and death. The breeds best for search and rescue are typically too friendly to be trained in combat.
Hound Care Edit
Care for your hound not only ensures it is stays in tip-top fighting shape, but also strengthens the bond between handler and hound. A hound has the same essential needs as we do; food, water, and shelter. A hound needs exercise, at least a minimum of two hours daily.
Questions you should ask yourself when caring for your hound:
- Do they have a fenced in yard? If so is it large enough for them to run in?
- Is there plenty of shade, be it from trees or structures?
- What is their water source? Is it clean and relatively cool?
- What do you feed them? How frequently do you feed them?
- What methods of exercise and play do you use?
Hounds are social animals. Loneliness and boredom will lead to behavioral problems, no matter how well trained they are. As a hound master, your hound should be by your side for a significant amount of time every day. If this is not possible, consider obtaining another animal to provide companionship while you are away.
Food and Water Edit
All hounds are largely carnivorous meat eaters, but do eat some omnivorous foods such as fruits and vegetables. A healthy and balanced diet it optimal. Meats can be given raw or cooked. Some fruits, vegetables, and rice are acceptable additions. One or two bones a week are good for helping to keep a hound’s teeth clean, however, only uncooked bones should be given and large enough that they cannot fit into the hound’s mouth whole. Cooked pumpkin and grated carrots are great ways to add fiber to your hound’s diet to help maintain healthy bowels.
Ensure that your hound as just as much access to water as you do. As living, breathing beings, hounds need water to survive and will perish within days if they are denied access to it. This water should be as clean as that which you drink yourself. Hounds may attempt to drink spoiled or tainted water if left unsupervised, so a hound master should keep their hounds away from such bodies of water.
A routine feeding schedule is ideal. Feeding just before an exercise activity or immediately afterward are ill-advised as both my lead to vomiting. While it is more common to feed your hounds twice per day, in the morning and in the evening, more frequent small portions are recommended while on campaign to prevent overeating when sudden relocation may be required. Treats in the form of palm-size portions of food are effective rewards for good behavior. Treats will help keep your hound happy, healthy, and responsive when you’re out in the field and you know it may be a while before you both can properly rest.
You should never feed your hound the following foods:
- Onions and Garlic – Very toxic to Hounds. They cause anaemia, often resulting in death.
- Chocolate – Hounds love the smell of chocolate, but it is toxic to them.
- Citrus Fruits – Likely to cause diarrhea and vomiting, leading to dehydration. They can also potentially cause central *nervous system damage.
- Dairy Products – Some breeds cannot digest milk, resulting in vomiting and diarrhea.
- Raw Yeast Dough – Raw dough can cause excessive amounts of gas and stomach pain.
- Overly Fatty Foods – Unhealthy in large quantities, they could lead to later health problems.
- Salted Foods – Trace amounts of salt are essential to a healthy diet and muscle functions, but excessive amounts of salt can lead to heart, liver, and kidney problems.
Shelter is a simple concept, but the varied climates encountered in Stormwind and abroad can present challenges to provide adequate shelter. Shade is important in any environment. Cold winters require a warm refuge from the biting wind while hot summers require adequate ventilation to prevent overheating. Large trees provide the best natural shelter from Spring to Autumn while a doghouse will protect it during the winter. Bringing a hound into your home allows it to stay out of adverse weather and provides more companionship time for you both. However, you must still ensure that your hound as plenty of outside time for exercise and play.
Tips for sheltering your hound:
- Craft a wooden dog house which will shelter your dog from the elements.
- Ensure the dog house is large enough that the hound may comfortably stand and turn around.
- Place the dog house on an elevated platform to prevent potential flooding.
- Face the entrance of the dog house away from prevailing winds.
- Hay makes for fine bedding, but make sure it is free of dust and mold.
- Check the bedding monthly to see if it needs replaced due to matting or soiling.
A healthy hound is a happy hound. Spotting the signs of an illness early on makes it easier to treat. Veterinarians can treat most illnesses with natural remedies or surgery if necessary. Magical healing should be reserved for only the direst of circumstances, and even then, Nature Magic is preferred.
It is the tragic, natural order of life that at some point there must be an end. If all attempts to heal your hound fail, you may have to consider ending its suffering and mercifully dispatching your companion. This is undoubtedly the hardest decision a hound master has to make.
Listed below are ailments and how they may affect your hound:
- Combat injuries pulsing blood can be healed depending on the severity as one would treat on a person.
- Strange, erratic behavior, such as a playful hound being pensive or a quiet hound barking incessantly can indicate it being stressed and uncomfortable in its surrounding.
- Difficulty in urinating and or defecating can indicate either an illness or possible blockage. This might be accompanied by your hound eating large amounts of grass or weeds. This could result in death due to septic shock if not treated. Ensure a proper diet to avoid this.
- A wound that has become infected results in you putting down the beast unless cleansing magic can be applied. The remains must also be burned. Blighted corpses may spread illness.
- A persistent cough may be a result of dusty or moldy hay. Change your hound's bedding regularly. If coughing persists, or includes blood, you may need to put down your hound to end its suffering.
- Limping may indicate either foot or leg tissue injuries or bone fractures. Inspect the hound and consider a resting period in training when limping is first noticed. If limping persists for longer than a week or two and is untreatable with magic, you must consider putting down your hound to prevent suffering.
Grooming and Exercise Edit
Hounds are usually self-sufficient in keeping themselves clean. They may need assistance occasionally, whether it be brushing mats out of their fur, removing plant burrs, or washing copious amounts of mud off. Grooming is also a way to strengthen the bond between hound and hound master. A quick brushing of their coat after some exercise is also a good way to calm them down, massage their muscles, and help transition to a new activity.
Typical exercise activities include walks or jogs around the surrounding area, playing fetch or tug-of-war, etc. For a more vigorous exercise, visit a hound obstacle course. As stated earlier, whichever exercise activity you choose, ensure they receive, at a minimum, a total of two hours of exercise beyond free play in the yard. This will burn off excess energy to prevent restlessness which can turn into behavioral problems and potentially removal from service.
Hound Commands Edit
A properly trained hound knows a plethora of verbal and signal commands, executing these orders without hesitation. Below are just a few of the most basic commands.
The "Look" command directs the hound to look in the direction you are pointing. This command is good for drawing the hound’s attention to something or someone in particular, or even yourself. The hand signal involves the right hand coming up to the left shoulder, then pointing at the target, or hold on the shoulder if you want the hound to look at you.
The "Come" command instructs the hound to return to your side. The hand signal is snapping the fingers on your right hand and pointing down by your side.
The "Heel" command instructs your hound to keep pace with you on the move. The hand signal is snapping the fingers on your right hand while your hand and arm are at a ninety degree angle forward.
The "Sit" command instructs the hound to sit where it’s located. Hindquarters to the ground, fore-paws spaced evenly and straight in line with its chest, head erect and forward-looking. This is the equivalent of the position of attention for war hounds. The hand signal component is your right arm at a ninety degree angle, hand and fingers are straight with palm down. On the command, flex all four fingers in a downward fashion at the first knuckle only.
Lie Down Edit
The "Lie Down" command instructs the hound to lie with it’s chest and belly on the ground, hind haunches neatly tucked along its sides, forelimbs tucked in and bent at the elbow with the fore-paws, extended out in front and evenly spaced, head resting on the ground nestled in between its fore-paws. The hand signal is the right hand, with fingers straight, executing a sweeping motion at the wrist from left to right.
Leave It Edit
The "Leave It" command tells the hound to ignore whatever it’s attention is currently drawn to, whether it’s wild game, a passing wagon, or another person. The hand signal component is the right hand extended towards the hound, palm outward with fingers extended upwards.
The "Release" command directs the hound to drop or let go of anything in its mouth, be it food, toy, or enemy. The hand signal is an extended right hand, palm to the left, with fingers straight and pointing towards the hound. On the command a downward motion is executed at the wrist.
The "Stay" command tells the hound to remain where it is. This command often follows a "Sit" or "Lie Down" command. The hand signal is an extended right hand, palm forward, with fingers curled into a fist.
Similar to the "Stay" command, the "Wait" command builds anticipation for command soon to follow. The hand signal matches the "Stay" command, except the index and middle finger are extended upwards.
Other Commands Edit
Further commands will be taught dependent on the hound's intended role and as the training progresses toward completion.
In order for a soldier of the Royal Army to be certified as a hound master and take on a hound of his or her own, they must prove their ability to care for and command a hound both on and off the battlefield to a member of the Royal Hound Master Society.
This process typically includes caring for a hound for a week's time, demonstrating proficiency in issuing hound commands, and in general, bonding with the hound that they will eventually take onto the battlefield.
Once a soldier demonstrates sufficiently that they are prepared to take a hound into service in a specified service role, they will be issued a hound from the breeders of the Royal Hound Master Society; typically the very hound that they trained with.
Additional Readings Edit
- Pet Dogs in Ancient Rome
- Ancient Dog Food of Rome and Greece
- 10 Most Ancient Dog Breeds on Earth
- Dogs During World War I