Known as 'sand dogs' by the desert dwellers of Soblos, they are a common hunting companion. It is not uncommon to see a garuna running alongside a broomstick-riding merchant or traveler. Though they are only in the early stages of domestication, they are one of the most common familiars, and by extension simply pets, in the desert countries.
Anatomy & Morphology
Garuna most closely resemble the painted wolf, otherwise known on Earthside as the African wild dog, sharing a similar build, snout size, and ear length. However, they differ most notably in the claws, neck, and head. Their paws are padded for walking across sand, with claws that are good both for tearing into prey and kicking up sand, which they use when creating dens. They have exponentially longer necks than any other canine, which they use to avoid sand that is blown into the air by gusts of wind. These necks are also beneficial, as they allow their biting reach to be increased, aiding in hunting. Their final evolutionary distinction is two short, blunt horns on the males. While it is theorized that these horns were larger in the garuna's ancestor species, the horns now are simply decorative.
Genetics and Reproduction
The horns of a garuna, while not serving any functional physical purpose, are how female garuna pick their mates. The longer and sharper the horns, the more appealing they appear as potential partners. Garuna with shorter horns will fight alpha garuna in an attempt to incapacitate them, where they will then attempt to use their powerful jaws to break their horns off, or at least chip away at them. Alpha garuna will sharpen their horns against stone to stand out.
Ecology and Habitats
Garuna will dig out dens in sand banks, and find stones to seal the entrance with when they are out hunting. This also protects their young. They live primarily on the edge of deserts, not too deep into the dunes that it would be impossible to find food or water, but not too close to more habitable environments, where competition is more plentiful. Their longer necks also allow them to see further out over the dunes and over hills, in an effort to spot prey from greater distances away.
Dietary Needs and Habits
Garuna are primarily predators, but will eat any fruit or roots they find, to aid in hydration when water is scarce, or to help in ingesting vitamins. As pack hunters, garuna will typically travel in groups with a single scout ahead of the rest, who will alert the others when prey is located with a yip. They circle their prey, dashing at the prey one at a time to nip at them with the reach their necks provide. This will continue until they have tired out their prey, at which point they will all close in, to trample or claw them to death, before eating their fill and carrying any remains back to their dens.
Garuna are in the process of being domesticated in the same way wolves were in the past. Loyalty, friendliness towards sapient species, and ability to follow commands are all traits that are bred for.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
They have large, tall ears for detecting sounds across vast dunes, allowing them to even hear the padded steps of another of their own species. Their eyesight is average for a canine, being strong, but not perfect.