The Omen Plague has other names. It is known as The Star Plague and even The Mundane Plague. It is still with us today, now known by the common name of the Shaking Death. To set the stage, the stars were aligned in all the wrong signs. Everyone new something bad was going to happen. When winter set in hard and early, they thought that was it. They were wrong.
When someone befriends an animal, s/he obtains the ability to unite their souls together and take on the form of that animal as well as its abilities. S/he also gain some properties of that animal even when they are no keener t transformed, such as resistence to cold or senses. If s/he really wants to s/he can half transforms taking on characteristics of the animal and their normal form