are large, strong canines of Northern
Sarvonia, used by most of the Ice
Tribes people for transportation and as scout or rescue dogs. They are known
variously among different tribes as the "Munmut", the "Ankmut", the "Ankmar" and
other similar names. The northern Kuglimz
people call them the "Mari'fal" (the "People's Wolf"). However, the most
familiar name to southerners is the "Icemut " so we have chosen to use this
Appearance. The Icemuts of Northern Sarvonia are among the most beautiful canines to be found. Standing roughly about two fores or more at their withers, they are also one of the tallest. When measured standing on their hind legs they can reach two peds in height.
Picture description. The Ankmut, trusted companion of the Tarkyns, a Northern Sarvonian Ice Tribe. Pic drawn by Bard Judith.
The coats of these magnificent dogs vary as greatly as the many tasks they are
called upon to fulfill among the
Ice Tribes. Some have a
pure snow white fur with just a hint of pale blue reminiscent of
cerubell flowers. This blue tint is
believed to be a result of the centuries of dining on
snow mice. Others have a more colourful coat
that allows them to blend in better with the rugged southern portions of their
territory. The furs of these dogs may be tipped with colours ranging from
silvery grey to deep black with a hint of
cerubell blue from the rim
of their muzzles to the tip of their tails. The colour may also run down their
sides and partway down their muscular legs. This "frosting" creates magnificent
markings, making each animal unique in appearance.
Icemuts possess what might be described as two coats. The outermost portion of their pelts is formed by a permanent coat of longer and coarser hair which typically carries the pigment markings. As the temperatures begin to fall and the harsher, less forgiving, winters begin, a substantially thicker secondary coat grows in. This second coat is formed of shorter, extremely soft and fluffy hairs that will more than double in thickness giving the dogs the bear-like appearance they are known for. From the sides of their neck and along the front of their chests a thick almost mane like growth of hair will form and tufts of longer hair will be visible about their hind quarters. This added hair is always snow white and as soft and fluffy as sawis wool.
Their deepset eyes show a high intelligence, which is corroborated by the dogs' behaviour. The eyes range in colour from from a soft grey to a bright blue. Often an animal will possess one blue eye and one silvery grey. They tend to be somewhat short-sighted, but their other senses more than make up for this deficiency.
The dogs also have unusually large feet, which aids them in traveling over loose or deep snow. These appendages can be over a palmspan wide, containing five toes rather then the typical four. Each toe possesses a leather like fatty pad that is rough to the touch, providing traction. Behind these toe pads are two larger pads placed one behind the other providing a base or a palm of sorts for the paw. The pads are typically a charcoal grey colour with the occasional hint of blue and pink undertones.
Hard blue-white claws extend from each of the five toes. These extremely sharp and pointed protrusions may be over three nailsbreadths in length and are nearly a nailsbreadth in width. Each claw extends straight from its base for about thee quarters of its length and then begins to turn inward as it narrows to a fine darker point. A sixth nail, known as the dew claw, is visible a palmspan or more from their paws, and located on the back of the leg. This sharp appendage is greatly curled and darker than the other five in appearance.
The Icemut has large ears, typically a palmspan or more in length, but as they fold over half way to protect the delicate inner ear this is not quite so obvious at first in the adult dog. At their base they may reach four or more nailsbreadths. Long white hair rims the medial portions of their ears, extending laterally helping to provide warmth. In pups these ears seem to be even larger but they are typically proportionately oversized. A pup is often referred to as needing to "grow into his ears and feet", and this has led to a saying among the Ice Tribes which refers to their adolescent or younger children being in a hurry to grow up, i.e. "You need to grow into your ears and feet yet".
The fleshy portion of the Icemuts' nose, like those of other canines, is typically moist and shiny. However, instead of being cold as is the case with most dogs, their noses are warm to the touch. They are a deep nor’sidian black with a hints of of blue and pink that almost go undetected at a casual glance.
From the base of their rump a majestic plume like tail rises over their back in a gentle arch and ends a palmspan or two from their necks. This magnificent appendage is softened considerably by the long white fur that runs across the bottom and fans out towards the sides with a dramatic feathery effect which adds considerably to the apparent size.
Icemuts are able to handle extremely cold conditions. They seem to thrive in
coldest of environments. Their thick woolly coats provide much needed insulation
against the coldest of weather and the bitterest of
winds. Often, especially when traveling and
away from shelter after dark, their masters will get next to them to share in
their radiant heat and thus escape the bitter cold.
Their sense of smell is keen and they can detect scent from a stral or more away (naturally depending on such things as wind direction and strength, age and type of the scent, etc.). Many of the Ice Tribes utilize this ability to their advantage, by using the dogs for scouting purposes, finding injured people such as those trapped in snow slides, hunting game and so on.
One of this animals' sharpest senses is that of hearing. Icemuts are able to distinguish the barks of their pack members from great distances. Because of this special ability, they are prized as scout dogs. Due to this trait, they can often find their way home even in a heavy snowstorm, simply by barking or howling repeatedly until they can hear their pack mates' response. This ability has also saved many a lost or injured hunter, for the search teams can find him quickly if he is with a dog from their community.
Sensing the approach of storms is another ability they seem to possess. They will often burrow under snow or seek shelter when they feel a storm is approaching. Sometimes they will howl as if to warn others.
Territory. Although these dogs are largely restricted to the Icelands, north of the Kuglimz lands above the Tandalas, some explorers in those areas have obtained puppies, which they then brought back south with them. Due to expansion of trade routes, the Icemuts are becoming known among the Kuglimz people and the Injerin elves, both races of which appreciate the dogs for their hunting abilities, intelligence, gentle nature and beauty. However, the Icemuts will not thrive in areas south of the Heath of Jernais - it is too warm for them, unless the owner wants to spend a lot of time clipping the dog's heavy coat in summer.
Habitat/Behaviour. Icemuts are known for their gentle nature and their loyalty toward their owners. They make exceptional pets that can be trusted around even young children. However, the Icemut is an active, energetic dog and requires plenty of outdoor physical exercise to be happy and healthy. Strangely enough, an occasional pup is born with a vicious nature - perhaps one in every 8 to 10 litters - but these animals are usually killed. If they are allowed to live, they are usually neutered to prevent them from mating and passing on their temperament. In general, the animals are good natured and even-tempered, often too friendly to be good guard dogs. However, apart from the occasional raid, most Ice Tribes people do not need to worry much about theft, as banditry is rare in that inhospitable clime.
Diet. These members of the canine family will only eat meat. Often, since they are a highly domesticated breed, they will rely on their owners to provide this food. However, in the northern-most regions where food may be less plentiful, they will often hunt for their own prey in packs like the mari wolves, whom they resemble greatly. Cloaked elk, wild goats, and wison form the largest part of their diet. Working as a pack they will chase down the older animals until they have been weakened sufficiently to make them easier prey.
In the more southerly reaches of their habitat Icemuts will catch Sarvonian white deer. Using much the same tactics that are used on the elk, these canines can quickly catch this animal and use it as a food source. Even the massive thunderfeet are no match for a pack of hungry Icemuts. These dogs will take turns distracting their victim while the others will claw and bite at their legs until the animal succumbs to blood loss and becomes a large meal for several days. However, due to the danger, their owners rarely allow them to take on something of this size unless the people are also hunting them.
Mating. Typically, most of the Ice Tribes try to impose fairly rigid controls on the animals' breeding. Individuals who own particularly impressive male animals are often given many favours by others in the hopes of purchasing their dog's stud services. Oral breeding records are preserved (often in the form of songs or chants) in order to trace bloodlines and ensure that animals that are closely related to each other do not breed, for there is an understanding that this weakens the bloodlines.
The dogs that are chosen to breed are placed together when the female comes in heat, and are left together in a pen until the end of the heat period (about 7 days). Then they are separated and once it is certain that the female has conceived, she is excluded from regular duty as a sled or rescue dog, tenderly cosseted and cared for by her owners, often given the best of tidbits and fed extra well. The typical Icemut pregnancy lasts approximately 65 to 70 days, and produces between three to six puppies. The mother will not come into heat again until after the puppies are weaned and trained, a process which takes about 9-10 weeks. After this they are taken from the mother and begin learning their duties as sled dogs. An Icemut generally lives about 12-16 years on average. After age 12 or so, they are usually retired from active duty as sled dogs, though they are still used for rescue or scout activities.
Usages. As mentioned before, the Icemuts make excellent sled dogs, since they are very strong. A team of dogs usually consists of between four to eight dogs, depending on the weight to be pulled. They also function well as scout dogs or rescue dogs. They are not treated as pets, since the Ice Tribes would tend to see keeping a non-working animal as a waste of time, food and energy. Rather, they are seen as working members of the tribe, and treated accordingly.
The fur of the dogs is quite warm and tends to shed water, so when an Icemut dies, its fur is removed and used as clothing or bed covers.
Myth/Lore. Although each of the tribes has their own version, the myths about these animals in the various tribes are quite similar. Extraneous details aside, the basic story line is that an Ice Tribe baby boy was lost during a tribal raid, and was found and raised by mari wolves. When he grew older, he believed he was a wolf as well, and so took a female wolf for his mate. She had a litter of 6 pups, 3 male and 3 female. When the pups were born, they were bigger, stronger, smarter and more handsome than the average wolf and so the other young wolves, jealous, drove them away when they were scarcely a year old. The young pups wandered alone for a while, until they came upon a human village. Since their sire was human, they were not afraid of people and so entered the village. The people of the village were impressed by the beauty, fearlessness, and gentle nature of these "wolves", and adopted them. And so the Icemut came into being.
Researchers. The researchers are indebted to Minóki Kíuru for her assistance and the information she was able to give them on the Icemute and the roles it plays in the Ice Tribe communities. Thanks is due as well to Turik of Barsalon, who somehow managed to acquire an Icemute puppy on one of his expeditions and thus was also in a position to provide the researchers with much information regarding the animals.
 These names translate loosely and respectively as "ice dog", "loyal dog" and "loyal wolf". [Back]