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Building off some of the ideas from this question, we have single-animal human shapeshifters that put their clothing in Hammerspace (warning: TV Tropes) when they are in animal form. What exactly happens to their clothing I am not sure, but I don't want them to run around naked due to the sensibilities of my Earth audience.

Injuries sustained in either form transfer over, although mild lacerations of the skin can be sealed. Cuts that do not require stitches heal themselves (as you picture your skin whole and complete) and if you have, say, a broken bone with a single clean break, it will typically fuse back together. If you have a broken bone that hasn't been set, it will often fuse back together anyway and cause the shapeshifter lots of problems until it gets rebroken and set properly. Bones that have shattered take more magic and energy to fix than a single form transformation, as do bones that are in multiple pieces, missing, or significantly out of place. Missing limbs do not regrow unless your animal is a starfish or something that can regrow parts of itself naturally.

So say you are in your animal form and that it happens to be a coyote, for the purposes of an example. You get mud, blood, or some other foreign substance on yourself while in your animal form What happens to that mud when you shapeshift back into a human?

I'm looking for an answer that is easy, convenient, and maintains as much suspension of disbelief as possible. I'm spending a lot of time thinking about this, but I don't want my audience to.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Aify, Hohmannfan, Mołot, Green, Burki Oct 12 '16 at 14:13

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Why wouldn't you just stay muddy? $\endgroup$ – Rob Watts Oct 12 '16 at 2:03
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    $\begingroup$ Canine (dogs, wolfs) tends to shake water and mud from their fur, so i think canine shapeshifter can do the same $\endgroup$ – vodolaz095 Oct 12 '16 at 3:37
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    $\begingroup$ What happens? Whatever you need for your story. Hey, it's magic! $\endgroup$ – Mołot Oct 12 '16 at 10:15
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Well, I think it depends on how the clothing-transfer-to-hammerspace works.

If it is an ability that just takes anything close to the skin and touching (why the heck does it only transfer clothes + shoes + glasses + miscelaneous items in various pockets, and not some of the ground the animagus is standing on???) -- why not transport the animal mud into hammerspace, too? Since it is just another form of 'clothing', I mean. Next time they transform back into the animal, they will be just as dirty as before, but no dirt on the human. Unless they were already dirty before they transformed to an animal.

If your hammerspace-transfer works by some kind of psychological component (only that stuff that the user considers 'part of their person', like clothing + shoes gets hammerspaced), then, as long as they consider the mud not 'part off their person', it simply gets left behind while the animal transforms inside their mud-shell. Result: Mud in various places on the clothed person. Unless they consider the mud part of their person either consciously or subconsciously, then it should get subspaced just like the clothes do for the human form (back to the former paragraph)

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As vodolaz095 pointed out in a comment, wild canids, as well as many (but not all) dogs, have a fur texture which mud, dirt, etc. basically just falls off of once it dries. In the wild, where you can't just drop into the nearest dog wash equipped with powerful blow dryers, the ability to stay clean with a minimum of effort is a definite survival advantage, so there has been considerable selection pressure for this. Getting soaked, especially in the winter, can be a death sentence.

Since you mention the coyote specifically, this definitely applies.

I have two such dogs myself, which both spend a lot of their time outdoors, and I can't even recall when I last had to wash them myself. Very little natural dirt sticks, and what little does, they tend to clean off themselves in short order.

Also, an appropriate answer would depend on what exactly happens during the shift from canid form back to human form. Foreign matter would attach to the animal form's fur, so if the fur de-grows or is shedded, then the foreign matter (including mud and dirt) would presumably be shedded in the process.

You are already invoking massive magic by having shapeshifters in the first place, so you can give them exactly the type of fur they need for your storytelling purposes. As long as you are consistent (no deus ex fur, please!), it shouldn't be too hard to maintain suspension of disbelief if the reader is already asked to maintain suspension of disbelief at the fact that these creatures can shift between different biological forms.

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  • $\begingroup$ I really like this answer. The canine in question actually got knocked out while in the puddle of mud, so I'm not sure how much of that would still apply. But that wasn't part of the original parameters of the question. $\endgroup$ – Jerenda Oct 12 '16 at 17:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Jerenda I don't see how that would change any of what I wrote, and like you point out, it also wasn't in the original question. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Oct 13 '16 at 7:39
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I would say the easiest solution is just think of shape-shifting being like a transformer that had a form fitting variable-elastic covering (with selective osmosis).

This means that the mud on them would act very similarly to a if a human on all fours got muddy and then just stood up.

The second option is to treat the mud like cloths that get stored in the hammer space and is returned onto it in the same fashion that the human form's cloths do.

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