I'd originally planned to use today's travel diary to talk about how much I love climbing mountains in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I do. Hyrule's topography is masterfully sculpted in this game, and it's worthy of being gabbed about. But then I realized I haven't talked about Breath of the Wild's dogs at all, and that is a grave sin.
As we all know, the Universal Scale of Good Things runs thusly: Mountains are good, pizza is better, puppers are best. I need to get my priorities in order. Surely you all agree with me on this, so let's get it done.
I've talked a bit about my past as a dog groomer, during which I developed a keen interest in the history and origin of different dog breeds. So when I met my first dog in Breath of the Wild, I wondered about its lineage.
"I doubt the game will go into much detail about what kind of dogs these are," I said to myself, forgetting for a crucial instant that Nintendo programmed appropriate reactions and consequences to most of the stupid things they anticipated people doing in its game. Of course there's information about the dogs. You simply need to snap a picture of one to fill out the relevant entry in the Hyrule Compendium.
The dogs Link comes across are called Hylian retrievers. Physically, they look quite a bit like a border collie (not surprising, as most of the dogs Link comes across are guarding the livestock in stables), but they're a little bit broader than collies. Technically, working "retriever" dogs are used for hunting more than herding; as their name implies, they're meant to retrieve ducks and other waterfowl that are shot down. It's interesting these retrievers are used as herding dogs rather than hunting dogs, but I guess dogs are nothing if not versatile. That's why they're such good boys (and girls).
Hylian retrievers come in a variety of colors, too. I've seen black, white, and tan variations, black variations, and even a pup whose copper color made it look like a duck toller, a breed I don't see outside of Canada very often.
According to the Hyrule Compendium, legend dictates the Hylian retriever is descended from a dog owned by the King of Hyrule (the Compendium does not specify which King, or when he reigned). Unfortunately, I've yet to come across a dog breed other than the Hylian retriever. I'm hoping one is out there. One of the coolest things about dogs in the real world is how they've been bred across centuries to fit specific jobs and tasks, and it'd be nice to see Hyrule's dogs reflect its very different cultures.
Then again, eons of selective breeding and training has made dogs neurotically dependant on humans, which makes me feel kind of bad. Maybe it's best Hyrule has a single all-purpose dog. I'll just pretend the realm's breed diversity was decimated by the Calamity.
Oh no. That's even worse.
Well, whatever hardships the Hylian retriever suffered across the past 100 years hasn't left a mark on its doofy exterior. Nintendo really nailed down the puppers' good-natured body language: The easy, panting smile, the tail that never stops wagging gently, the enthusiastic "bows" that wordlessly invite Link to play.
Heck, Link just has to look at a dog to win its affections, which is pretty much the most "dog" thing ever. "Oh boy! I'm being acknowledged! This is even better than the squirrel I ate, threw up, and ate again!"
We're all richer for Nintendo's attention to detail. The first time I saw a Hylian retriever chase its own tail, catch it, and stand stock-still without an idea of what to do next, I died. I've been writing these travel journals from beyond the grave.
TOMORROW: Wrapping it all up.