The Koyot, also known as a "Jackal" or "Boar-Faced Coyote", is a sooty-coloured canine native to the mountains and deserts around the Norong’sorno volcano in the Truban province of Santharia. They are scavenging hunters in the wild, but known more commonly as a domestic dog in the household of Stratanians.
Koyots are occasionally known as "Pig-Dogs" or "Pidogs", a derogatory term for their pig-like appearance and behaviour, and one that is commonly applied to their owners or anyone who has a mutty, dirty appearance or attitude. Despite the allusion to filth, one that might be accurate for the wild Koyots, domesticated ones tend to be exceedingly clean, with little of the mannerisms that plague their wild brethren.
Appearance. Koyot, like their other desert relative the Ly'caon, are fairly small dogs, about a ped long, with short, black or dark brown fur, though occasionally have been known to be of a sandy colour in areas where the terrain is brighter than the darker slopes of the Norong’sorno. These lighter Koyots tend to still carry a dark-stripe along their backs, reaching from the base of the neck down to the end of the tail, and on the tips of their long, sword-shaped ears. Most Koyot pelts are of a slightly lighter shade on the undersides, usually gray or white. A rarer pelt can be found on the few Koyots that dwell in the Lands of Pain, which is of a reddish, almost rust-coloured shade which matches the dirt of those harsh lands.
Koyots are typically lean, and have long, thin legs ending in proportionally large feet, which allow them to run at impressive speeds, and long, bushy tails. In addition, they are known for their elongated, arrow-like snouts, giving them their ‘boar-faced’ name and used in a similar fashion to wild pigs - primarily for digging and sniffing in the desert sands. The front of their snout is flat, but very narrow, allowing it to reach far inside the burrows of small animals, like dune mice or egg snakes, or the day-sleeping sand mice. The skin of this nose is thicker than the rest of their body in order to withstand cuts from digging and attacks on their nose by their disturbed prey.
Unlike most canines, Koyots have fairly small, curved back teeth, similar to snakes. Once a small animal like a snake or mouse gets bitten, it will typically be unable to free itself from the jaws of the Koyot, which will squeeze down until the animal stops moving.
Special Abilities. Koyots are primarily known for their pig-like ability to scavenge and adapt. Like swine, they will dig through the dirt with their snout, looking for the burrows of smaller creatures. Their noses are very sensitive on the front, and typically the Koyot will close its nostrils and simply feel around the inside of a creature’s burrow with the tip. The tough hide prevents roots, rocks, or the teeth of annoyed prey from damaging its snout while it is lurking in their dens. Once it locates a sufficient meal, the Koyot will pull its gums back and take small, pointed bites, attempting to lock its teeth around its prey. The angle of the teeth, pointed inwards towards their throat, allows its prey to slide further down with continued bites easily despite the enclosed space, and unable to slide back out. They sometimes swallow their prey whole when it is small enough, but can chew larger pieces of meat with their flat rear teeth.
In addition, while not typically an animal that prefers to run down prey, Koyots are fast runners, and will chase down animals that manage to escape their burrows before the Koyot can kill them. Sometimes they will lie in wait at currently empty burrows for prey such as rabbits and pounce them with a quick dash when the animal returns to its nest.
Furthermore, Koyots have one other ability of note, and that is their tendency to occasionally 'sing' at night or while at rest. With their high-pitched barks, yips, and howls, a Koyot can fill what is normally a deathly silent desert with a reminder that there is indeed still life out there. It is believed that this howling is used to indicate the location of their lairs for other Koyots, as they frequently share their dens. This is especially true when a male desires a mate to lair with. The singing is rare, however, as most Koyots prefer to quietly remain on their own.
Territory. Wild Koyots are typically found along the slopes of the Norong’sorno in the Truban province and, less frequently, in the Yar’Dangs north of Strata and the southern base of the Nirmenith Mountains. Domesticated Koyots typically reside in the manors of Stratanians in cities like Thalambath and Strata. A rare few can be found in middle Sarvonia as exotic pets, though the temperatures are usually too cold for even domestic Koyots in places like Voldar or even further north. Considering their adaptability however, some do continue to thrive in these colder regions.
Occasionally, a smaller breed with more reddish-coloured fur can be found in the Lands of Pain, in between the Norong'Sorno and the Nirmenith Mountains. These Koyots are much more rare than the other varieties that can be found to the south or north, as there is significantly less food available, even for these scavengers, and the heat limits the amount of time they can spend hunting.
Habitat/Behaviour. Koyots are mostly solitary scavengers. Some will travel with packs as large as three, but tend to spend their time hunting alone. They will den with other Koyots when necessary however, frequently sharing their dens with other Koyots despite having no relation to them. The Koyots often separate their kills in different parts of the den and mark the space around them with their scent. The other canines in the den will frequently leave the kills of their den mates alone, so as to not overstay their welcome.
Koyots leave their dens early in the morning to go hunting at dawn, prowling the footsteps of the Norong’Sorno volcano for the small burrows of their prey. Once they’ve found a meal, they will return it to their den, and then go out hunting again for more food to stockpile during the hot Ráhaz’Dáth days. Some will hunt again during dusk if the morning catch was not sufficient enough. Following the hunt, the Koyots will lounge in their dens or under the shade of a rock, staying out of the burning sun. When lounging, the Koyots tend to remain very still, with their heads raised, their sharp ears perked and their eyes constantly roving over the horizon.
Diet. Koyots typically feed on small animals that live in burrows, such as dune and flying mice, or the Rahaz’Norong that live on the slopes of the Norong’sorno volcano. When mammalian food isn’t available, the Koyots will feast on larger bugs and beetles, or, if necessary, it will steal the carcasses of larger animals that died from other hunters or the desert heat. When desperate for food, Koyots may go after larger prey, like the striped kara, but generally they prefer smaller, easier meals, which they can swallow whole.
Domesticated Koyots on the other hand have been known to take a fancy in flavourful fruits like berries. Artwork depicting them typically shows them with platters of grapes and raspberries rather than chunks of meat that might normally be associated with dogs.
Mating. Domesticated Koyots are typically breeded by their owners for the best quality in fur and behaviour. Among the Thalambathians in particular, a deep, rich nor’sidian-coloured fur is considered the epitome of breeding, which is then usually honed with various chymicals and brushers to bring out a noticeable but not too bright sheen. Oftentimes they will be dressed in various golden jewelry as well, which contrasts beautifully with their dark fur.
Koyots in the wild are most likely to mate when sharing their den with another. The male will bring an extra meal and place it in the female’s circle while she is out hunting, marking it with his scent. When she returns, the male will cautiously attempt to enter her circle. If the female accepts his offering, she may allow him to enter, and the two will share her circle for several days until mating. If she does not accept his offer, she will rebuke him, but the male is free to attempt more offerings if he still fancies her, and eventually she may acquiesce.
After mating, the female will go into a pregnancy period of roughly 60 days, during which time the male will largely provide sustenance for both animals while also building up extra for the young. Typically, the male during this time will be hunting at both dawn and dusk, while the female will only hunt during dawn, and only for the first 40 days of her pregnancy. She will usually birth a litter of around 4 to 6 pups, which are known as jhoties. The mother will spend the next month in the den to raise and play with the pups, while the male continues to hunt for them. After a month, she will return to hunting herself, and both parents will begin bringing the Jhoties along to protect and teach them. The pups will leave the den when they reach approximately 10 months of age, after which time the two parents will likely go their separate ways, unless the den is still the most convenient for both of them. Should they continue living together, they may mate again, usually in the same manner as their original pairing.
The grown pups are usually capable of mating themselves by the time they reach two and a half years of age.
Usages. Domestic Koyots are typically kept as pleasure animals, trained to lounge about for their masters, merely showing off their usually well-bred black coats. These Koyots are generally very polite and quiet, and never 'sing' like their wild kin. They are usually watching the goings-on of their master, taking the presence of their desert watching, which can unnerve some foreigners not used to them.
On some occasions however, a Koyot will be trained as a guard-dog, or a rat catcher. Both are typically the under-bred dogs that are not pristine enough to be used as showpieces. The guard dogs act similar to their more regal kin, but unlike the quiet lounge dogs, these ones will bark when they see or smell something they do not like. Unlike other guard-dogs however, these are not generally fighters, and are typically used for alarming their owners rather than fighting off an attacker.
The rat catchers on the other hand are trained to not give up their more wild tendencies, and are allowed to roam their homes in search of pests, particularly the flying sand mice who are usually sleeping in some hole during the day.
Myth/Lore. The Koyot’s tendency to sit very quietly and diligently watch its surroundings has given it a rather respected tale amongst the Kaizranians that originally domesticated them. According to the Kaizranians, the Koyots were entrusted with watching the souls of the many dead that the desert claimed as they departed from the sands. If any became lost on their way, the Koyot let out a warning, barking its song to the deceased, telling it was on the wrong path to the afterlife. For its work in guiding these lost travelers, the Koyot was blessed by the Kaizranian High God, Avhan, with divine knowledge of where to locate the hidden and buried nests of its food.