The Kite Dog
Primary Role: Navigation aid.
Secondary roles: Blanket, fan.
Distinguishing features: Skin flaps connect front and rear legs, forming a ‘wing area’. The dog also has uniquely double-jointed shoulder and hips that let its limbs to spread at right angles to the spine, allowing it, when tethered, to be ‘flown’ in moderate to strong winds. Extremely large ears and a feathered, prehensile tail are are both used to ‘steer’ when flying. Polarised eyesight in an extended range of the electro-magnetic spectrum lets the dog see beneath the water to depths of up to 5m. Highly intelligent, kite dogs can learn upwards of 200 commands, and are one of the few dogs capable of intelligible, if simple vocalisations. An extremely independent, almost show-off personality, but will be be companionable if bribed with food and affection.
History: The kite dog is a ‘later’ breed (circa 500AD), and, with the otter dog, is regarded as the pinnacle of middle Jiang dog breeding ambitions. The introduction of the kite dog was a major reason for the acceleration of Jiang expeditionary and collecting voyages from 750 AD onwards.
The Lice Dog
Primary Role: Personal hygiene aid
Secondary roles: Hand-warmer.
Distinguishing features: Uniquely among dogs, the Lice Dog’s skin had sweat glands, and the animal could turn these on and off at will. When activated, the sweat glands exuded a scent that is irresistible to mammalian specific parasitical insects such as lice, fleas, ticks etc. The scent causes rapid congestion of insect spiracle function when respired, causing near instantaneous suffocation. The Lice Dog subsisted on the dead insects so, although omnivorous, it had evolved sufficiently to be regarded as insectivorous.
History: The Lice dog is a ‘later’ breed (circa 500AD) and its development played a major part in the history of the Kingdom of Jiang, as the presence of the animal not only meant that Jiang was spared the ravages of the Black Death, but its explorers were effectively immune to any insect born illnesses they encountered on their travels.
Little known fact: Samples from exhumed Lice Dog remains reveal that their sweat functioned in a similar way to modern insecticides but without any long term environmental downsides. Researchers at Beijing University are currently working on recreating Lice Dog sweat with a view to producing more ecologically benign insecticides.
The Crew Dog
Primary Role: General purpose sailing vessel working dog- tackle pulling.
Secondary Role: Fresh water supply
Distinguishing features: The crew dog is powerfully built with a low centre of gravity and immensely strong jaws. Working either alone or in packs, it is capable of stupendous feats of haulage- a well disciplined pack of twelve can easily out-pull a cart horse. Highly intelligent, their co-operative instincts are particularly well-honed- a pack of crew dogs can work a ship under the command of just one human. The dog’s saliva glands produce a thick drool that lubricates their mouths, limiting rope damage to soft tissues. The Crew dogs’ ability to drink sea water and produce prodigious amounts of potable saliva makes them particularly valuable on long voyages, to the extent that Jiang Ships do not have to rely on accessibility to fresh water supplies, greatly extending their ability to undertake long voyages of exploration.
History: The Crew Dog is an ancient, primary Jiang breed (circa 1000BC), derived from early agricultural working dog stock. Their universal co-option by Jiang sailors led to the radical redesign of the rigging and running tackle of all Jiang vessels so that they can be operated by these resourceful animals.
Little known fact: In 890AD a Jiang collector ship was struck by a typhoon off the coast of Chile. All the human crew, except for Captain Chang, who had been crippled by a falling spar, were lost. His Crew Dogs safely returned the ship to its home port, and those heroic dogs were the ancestors of the dogs that crewed the sampam commanded by Feiyan in ‘The Dog Hunters’.
The Otter Dog
Primary Role: Remote salvage, search and rescue.
Distinguishing features: The Otter dog is as much at home on land as in the water. Its broad paws and blade-like tail are specially adapted to help it swim, allowing it to achieve busrts of speed in excess of seventeen knots. Its ears and nostrils can be closed at will, and its eyes are equally efficient below and above water. The whiskers on its muzzle are particularly long and are used as sensory devices in occluded underwater conditions. The dogs are highly inquisitive and extremely independent minded. They are self-sufficient in that they feed tmemselves, mainly on fish and crustaceans- but despite many attempts to train the breed to catch fish for a living, the breed's willful selfishness has always got in the way. Puppies with red fur are most prized, not for aesthetic reasons, but because they are easier to see in choppy waters.
History: The Otter Dog was a relatively late addition to the Jiang breeding stock, the main barrier to its full integration into working status being the animal's annoying tendency to simply swim off and 'do its own thing'. It wasn't until the loyalty trait was incoroprated into the breede's genetic make-up that it could be relied upon on long voyages, although many Jiang sailors continued to be wary of its flakiness. However, most Jiang ships did include at least one Otter Dog on its manifest- their uncanny ability toe find and retrieve objects and animals of interest was indisputable.
Little known fact: There are several colonies of Otter Dogs still living in and around the deltas of the Irrawaddy, Mekong and Ganges rivers. They are nearly always mistaken for Oriental Small Clawed Otters.