By Bryan Fowler.
It is cold, and the nights are long. I see light coming from the mouth of the tribal cave, and I hear the noise of the man things barking, but most of all I smell the meat, the sweet smell of the catch scraped off the bones that are left for us, and heated, cooked if you like over the fire that always burns inside their cave.
We stay well away from the man things, for although we clean up their messes, and they expect us to do this, if we venture too close, then our reward is a stone or a club thrown with malicious intent. They take their lead I think from the big one, the one who smells of anger and power, their pack leader.
I stay well away from him, but there is one a slighter man thing who smells differently who stays silently away from the big angry one, and one day when no one else is about he throws something to me, and it’s not a rock, it is a piece of meat, and it disappears down my throat, and my mind starts to rethink the man things, do they in fact all despise us?
Nothing much happens for a time except that the right smelling man gets bigger and bigger, and the pieces of meat come my way more frequently, and the bad smell man becomes louder and more aggressive, and then one day it all changes.
There is shouting, and running, and two men are fighting, and fighting to kill; and it is the bad smell one, and the throw me meat one. It goes on and on, and I see and smell the blood that is flowing from both of them, and then the bad smell one goes down, fist smitten and a rock is smashed down on his head, and the men things have a new leader.
Change happens, no rocks are thrown at us, and I take to following the man when he goes hunting, and sometimes I sense prey that he does not smell, and I point, and he makes a kill, and pleasure flows from him. Then one day he hurls his club at a large food thing, and he misses, but before it can escape I have it in my jaws, and the kill is made; and I still do not entirely understand why, but I took it and laid it at his feet.
He looked at it, and the pleasure smell told me that I had done the right thing, and he stretched out his hand and rubbed my side, “good pet”, he said.
That night he called to me, “Pet” he said, and I went into the cave, for I sensed it was right, and there was food for me, and I slept by the fire, and life was good.
Footnote. I read this story to my Pet the particularly perspicacious poodle Poppy. “Nonsense she said, dogs have always been allowed inside, and do make sure that you feed me on time”.