Conventional wisdom says dogs weren’t domesticated until the time of Egypt. Think Cleopatra and her cat. But, I’m convinced from the day man became smart enough to realize other animals didn’t always wish him well and survival was more than eating, sleeping and living, he has sought out a companion he could trust without doubt, who believed in him without question and followed him through good and bad.
Lyta might not have called it ‘dog’, but she found that in Ump. She met him after she became separated from her group by a massive earthquake, precipitated by an asteroid’s collision with her habitat and followed by seering fires that destroyed her homeland. Here’s how Otto showed their first meeting:
Below her lay a Canis, tail flopped to his side, pinned under a tree limb. A gash cut his heaving chest. Lyta dropped to the ground and approached with caution. Never had she been so close to this animal. Even supine, his muscles rippled as though prepared to flee. His great jaw sprouted sharp canines and massive grinding teeth. His fur stuck out from his trapped body in tufts like coarse wild grass. The one exposed eye—dark and small, like Snarling-dog (a coyote-like creature from the Pleistocene)—latched onto hers. The great pink tongue hung loose from his mouth, bobbing up and down in rhythm with his labored pant. The dirty tail gave a tired whomp.
Lyta studied the blood caked into his fur and dried over his ribcage like a big red leaf. Why was he here? She had seen him as he fled the fires, well ahead of the panicked herds of animals.
“Why, animal?” She asked, “What brought you back?”
As though he understood, his black lidded eye focused up and over to the side. There, a dead female lay with her pup, both crushed beneath a fallen limb. The canis refused to leave his mate, not understanding she would never again run with him through the fragrant grasslands. His loyalty benefited neither, but common sense had nothing to do with his decision.
Lyta pulled an herb from neck sack and chewed it to a pulp. “You’re going to be OK,” she soothed as she gently removed the branch from Canis’ wounded ribs and pasted a layer of mulched herbs over the wound, followed by long-fibered leaves. She worked slowly and with care, watching his face for pain or discomfort.