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
Minor Cultural Modifier: The culture believes, for the soul to leave the body, the corpse' eyes must be open. So any member of that culture takes care any dead body they find has its eyes open. Doubly true for those they kill themselves, for then the corpse will surely rise as an undead hunting him.