They sat high on the ridge, watching the flickering campfires below. The night was cold and vast, the sky a glittering dome of stars. The dry grasses rattled in the wind.
“If we join them we lose our freedom,” Rill muttered.
“If we stay here we starve,” Ella said, “There’s warmth, food, a future down there.”
“And servitude,” Rill snapped.
“We don’t know that for sure. And what is the freedom you speak of? To be always at the mercy of an ungrateful earth that doesn’t care if we live or die?”
Graff, the eldest of the tribe, raised his head, “We have to think of the young Rill.”
“No way,” Rill said with disgust, “You too Graff?”
“I can’t take it out here anymore, not after last winter. Go your way. We will go ours.”
With that, Graff stood up. Followed by Ella and the others, he began walking slowly toward the camp.
* * * * *
And that was how the domesticated dogs split from the wild.
For the ancestors of Rill there were icy wastelands and hostile deserts, the thrill of the chase, the camaraderie of the feast, the danger of hunters, and years of famine and plenty.
For the ancestors of Graff there were daily meals, warm beds, dog groomers, absurd bandannas and dog fancy-dress pageants.
And sharing their owners’ homes with their eternal enemies – the cats.