Horses are great for traveling, but we can't forget about man's best friend: the dog.
Last month, we embarked on a year-long quest to find video games' greatest animal. We started off with finding the best horse, and our all-star panel of judges chose the one fine equine who will represent horses in our end-of-the-year competition.
Now this month, we move on to canines. That includes dogs and wolves, to you non-veterinarians out there.
While dogs (and wolves) have certainly proven to be a gamer's best friend, they also can be a gamer's worst enemy. You have played "Resident Evil" haven't you? From survival-horror to action-adventure to first-person shooters to casual titles, we take a look at all the canines we could think of for our judges' consideration. And dear readers, feel free to weigh in with your favorite hound and suggest any that we missed.
Then check at the end of the month, when our our judges will select The Greatest Canine In Video Game History.
The leading contenders...
When legendary monster Orochi is resurrected with an evil curse in tow, it's up to the wolf-embodied sun god Amaterasu to regain the 13 powers of the Celestial brush and restore peace to the world.
When unlucky protagonist Jennifer is stranded on an abandoned airship, her only companion is Brown, who helps her find items and wards off all the creepy-crawlies in the survival-horror title.
Forget Minotaurs, Harpies and Wraiths: Kratos' most physically formidable enemies were the Cereberi, giant three-headed dogs that breathed fire and spawned progeny while they fought.
As if dudes with guns weren't trouble enough, wait'll you see what your enemies' dogs can do. Keep your eye on the cross-hairs too long and you won't see these chompin' canines coming -- they'll knock you off your feet and go right for the jugular.
When hunting for game and various varmints, a good hunting dog is just what you need. These dogs scare the animals out of the bushes so you can get a clear shot.
When a pet spa opens up shop in Dinertown, it's up to the player to help get these crusty canines clean.
Pick the pup of your choice, dress it up in "fun puppy clothes" and customize their environment with various toys and items. (Animal cruelty or not, that beanie is hilarious.)
This legendary no-name dog accompanies you while you attempt to shoot ducks with the Zapper. Get one and he congratulates you; miss and he gives you that infamous giggle. And no, you can't shoot him (at least not in the original NES version).
Yes, "Fable 2" isn't out yet, but its dog is nominated just based on hype alone. Controlled by advanced AI, this dog promises to respond to the player's actions, and whether you love him or hate him, he's designed to love you... unconditionally. Awww.
Charged with taking over his late grandfather's farm, the player-character must also care for Grandpa's pet: feeding him, letting him inside when the weather's bad and of course, hugging him every single day. Who could say no to that?
While there were multiple endings for "Silent Hill 2," perhaps the most bizarre one was the "dog ending," where protagonist James Sunderland discovers a canine that's been controlling the entire game from a computer console. (Maybe that's why "dog" is "god" backwards.)
The dogs in "Ultimate Duck Hunting" can be personally trained by you to become the best bird-retrieving dogs they can be. (And they won't laugh at you when you miss.)
Entei is a "Legendary Beast" in the Pokemon Universe. By embodying magma, it is able to breath scorching fire from its mouth, consuming everything in its path.
When Fiona wakes up in a strange castle following a car accident, this white German Shepard helps her solve puzzles and outwit the castle's spooky "residents."
Interceptor is the loyal companion of mercenary character Shadow. His master claims that Interceptor "eats strangers," a statement that seems likely due to the dog's ruthless attacks against Shadow's enemies.
Players take on the role of Jake, whose mission is that of any noble dog's: to save his love interest Daisy and other dogs from a corrupt cat lover named Miss Peaches.
Every Saturday night you can find K.K. Slider performing one of his many songs in town. Stay and listen, and he'll give you a bootleg of his music. He also takes requests. Good boy!
In "Twilight Princess," Link has the ability to switch between human and wolf forms. In wolf form, Link can communicate with animals and gains an improved sense of smell that helps him see wandering spirits and hunt for Poes.
Train, feed, pet, walk, groom and play with your dogs in real-time. It's just like having a real dog, only you don't have to carry a pooper scooper.
Like most rappers, PaRappa must make his way to the top of the hip-hop world by baking cakes, cutting hair, getting his driver's license and beating a military dictator named Colonel Noodles. (That's how 50 Cent did it, right?)
Like the title suggests, puppies abound in this game as the player gets to manage his/her own pet store. Buy and sell these pups like the hot commodities they are.
Another "Legendary Beast," Raikou is an Electric-type that embodies the speed of lightning. Raikou shoots electricity from the rain cloud on its back, roaring thunderously and sending shock waves to offending foes.
When summoned, the shape-shifting mechanical canine can help Mega Man fly higher, float over dangerous areas or swim underwater. (Talk about a multi-purpose pet!)
An anthropomorphic dog in detective's clothing, Sam loves justice and uses his brain to solves mysteries along with his crazed bunny partner Max.
When model police officer Jack Slate turns into a most wanted fugitive, his K9 unit Shadow accompanies him on the run, obeying his orders and doing handy things like sniffing out bombs.
The third "Legendary Beast," Suicune embodies the northern winds and the spring, using its powers to purify polluted water and change them into clear liquids (making it easily the most housebroken dog on this list).
Be the wolf you've always wanted to be in "Wolf Quest": harass coyotes, eat elk carcasses and chase snowshoe hares -- it's a dream come true.
Yamoto is a dog every ninja should have: he attacks and distracts enemies alongside his master as they battle against an evil syndicate.
Dogs infected by the T-Virus have haunted gamers in their nightmares. Relentless and frightening with their insides partially on the outside (yuck), these beasts' bite is much worse than their bark.
We know we forgot some. Do you have more beloved video game canines of your own to add? Weigh in on your favorites and check back at the end of the month for the results! And if you missed last month's list of horses, check it all out here.
[UPDATE 3/7: Here is the winner of best video game canine.]