Virtual Book Blast For Natural Selection and Ump and Bronco

Today I and Jacqui Murray the author of Natural Selection, the third and last book in the Dawn of Humanity series – October 18, 2022, will compare our giant dogs Bronco and Ump. Bronco is our late Leonberger about whom I wrote a book, the life and times of Le Bronco, and Ump is the loyal and brave fictional canine in the Dawn of Humanity trilogy. As Jacqui has pointed out, Ump and Bronco are separated by a couple of million years and Ump is more of a wolf than a domesticated dog. Yet they have a lot in common. They were both big, loyal, strong and brave and I can add that Bronco was also accused of being a wolf.

Below are the questions that we both will answer:

  1. Quick one-sentence intro to our friend. Include a picture.
  2. Life with a large dog.
  3. How does Bronco hunt?
  4. How does Bronco show he’s part of his human pack?
  5. A story about loyalty.

To see the three first questions and our answers please visit this link (note if the link does not work in the subscriber email open the actual post).

These are the last two questions and our answers:

#4 how does Bronco show he’s part of his human pack?

Ump: Actually, in Lucy’s story, Dawn of Humanity, Ump sees no difference between the human pack and his proto-wolf one. They were killed so early in his life, he doesn’t remember them, just knows Lucy as his Alpha and pack leader.

Bronco: Leonbergers were bred to be companion dogs as well as working dogs. They love people, they are sensitive to your feelings, they are excellent therapy dogs, and they don’t like it when there’s an argument. Whenever, someone was upset or sad Bronco tried to comfort them by pushing his head into their side and licking their face. He wanted everyone in the family to be together and to be happy. When we went for a walk as a family, he would not accept that one of us was leaving and going a different way. He also liked to sit with us on the sofas, and sleep in our bed, which we only allowed him to do for some time because he took up too much room.

#5 A story about loyalty

Ump: Ump’s kind knows no attitude other than loyalty to his pack. There is no option and he doesn’t want one. His pack is what makes life work. One example that most wouldn’t think of is that Ump often shares his food with Lucy and her tribe. There are times they can’t hunt or forage enough food for their needs, but Ump rarely experiences that. He can always come up with a hare or rat he then happily shares with his hungry packmates.

Bronco: Leonbergers are loyal and protective. Once we were attacked by an unleashed German Shepherd who first went after Daisy our Pug. Bronco who was old at the time stepped in between and, in the process, he got bit in the leg where he had just had surgery. He saved Daisy’s life.

Now I would like to focus on Natural Selection, which is one of the most captivating and fascinating historical fiction books that I’ve ever read.


In this conclusion to Lucy’s journey, she and her tribe leave their good home to rescue former-tribe members captured by the enemy. Lucy’s tribe includes a mix of species–a Canis, a Homotherium, and different iterations of early man. In this book, more join and some die, but that is the nature of prehistoric life, where survival depends on a combination of our developing intellect and our inexhaustible will to live. Each species brings unique skills to this task. Based on true events.

Set 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her tribe struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.

A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!

Book information:

Title and author: Natural Selection by Jacqui Murray

Series: Book 3 in the Dawn of Humanity series

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Editor: Anneli Purchase

Available print or digital at:

Author bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman , the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics.

Social Media contacts:

Amazon Author Page, Blog, InstagramPinterest, Twitter, Website

Some interesting information about the series

Finally, an excerpt:

Chapter 1

One Pack Ends, Another Begins


The Canis’ packmates were all dead, each crumpled in a smeared puddle of blood, Upright killing sticks embedded where they should never be. His body shook, but he remembered his training. The killers’ scent filled the air. If they saw him—heard him—they would come for him, too, and he must survive. He was the last of his pack.

He padded quietly through the bodies, paused at his mate, broken, eyes open, tongue out, pup under her chest, his head crushed. A moan slipped from his muzzle and spread around him. He swallowed what remained in his mouth. Without a pack, silence was his only protection. He knew to be quiet, but today, now, failed.

To his horror, a departing Upright looked back, face covered in Canis blood, meaty shreds dripping from his mouth, the body of a dead pup slung over his shoulder. The Canis sank into the brittle grass and froze. The Upright scanned the massacre, saw the Canis’ lifeless body, thought him dead like the rest of the decimated pack. Satisfied, he turned away and rushed after his departing tribe. The Canis waited until the Upright was out of sight before cautiously rising and backing away from the onslaught, eyes on the vanished predators in case they changed their minds. And fell.

He had planned to descend into the gully behind him. Sun’s shadows were already covering it in darkness which would hide him for the night, but he had gauged his position wrong. Suddenly, earth disappeared beneath his huge paws. He tried to scrabble to solid ground, but his weight and size worked against him and he tumbled down the steep slope. The loose gravel made gripping impossible, but he dug his claws in anyway, whining once when his shoulder slammed into a rock, and again when his head bounced off a tree stump. Pain tore through his ear as flesh ripped, dangling in shreds as it slapped the ground. He kept his legs as close as possible to his body and head tucked, thankful this hill ended in a flat field, not a river. Or a cliff.

When it finally leveled out, he scrambled to his paws, managed to ignore the white-hot spikes shrieking through his head as he spread his legs wide. Blood wafted across his muzzle. He didn’t realize it was his until the tart globs dripped down his face and plopped to the ground beneath his quaking chest. The injured animal odor, raw flesh and fresh blood, drew predators. In a pack, his mate would purge it by licking the wound. She would pronounce him Ragged-ear, the survivor.

Ragged-ear is a strong name. A good one.

He panted, tail sweeping side to side, and his indomitable spirit re-emerged.

I live.

But no one else in his pack did.

Except, maybe, the female called White-streak. She often traveled alone, even when told not to. If she was away during the raid, she may have escaped. He would find her. Together, they would start over.

Ragged-ear shook, dislodging the grit and twigs from his now-grungy fur. That done, he sniffed out White-streak’s odor, discovered she had also descended here. His injuries forced him to limp and blood dripping from his tattered ear obstructed his sight. He stumbled trying to leap over a crack and fell into the fissure. Fire shot through his shoulder, exploded up his neck and down his chest. Normally, that jump was easy. He clambered up its crumbling far wall, breaking several of his yellowed claws.

All of that he ignored because it didn’t matter to his goal.

Daylight came and went as he followed White-streak, out of a forest onto dry savannah that was nothing like his homeland.

Why did she go here?

He embraced the tenderness that pulsed throughout his usually-limber body. It kept him angry and that made him vicious. He picked his way across streams stepping carefully on smooth stones, their damp surfaces slippery from the recent heavy rain, ignoring whoever hammered with a sharp rock inside his head. His thinking was fuzzy, but he didn’t slow. Survival was more important than comfort, or rest.

Ragged-ear stopped abruptly, nose up, sniffing. What had alerted him? Chest pounding, breathing shallow, he studied the forest that blocked his path, seeking anything that shouldn’t be there.

But the throbbing in his head made him miss Megantereon.

Ragged-ear padded forward, slowly, toward the first tree, leaving only the lightest of trails, the voice of Mother in his head.

Yes, your fur color matches the dry stalks, but the grass sways when you move. That gives away your location so always pay attention.

His hackles stiffened and he snarled, out of instinct, not because he saw Megantereon. Its shadowy hiding place was too dark for Ragged-ear’s still-fuzzy thinking. The She-cat should have waited for Ragged-ear to come closer, but she was hungry, or eager, or some other reason, and sprang. Her distance gave the Canis time to back pedal, protecting his soft underbelly from her attack. Ragged-ear was expert at escaping, but his stomach spasmed and he lurched to a stop with a yowl of pain. Megantereon’s next leap would land her on Ragged-ear, but to the Canis’ surprise, the She-cat staggered to a stop, and then howled.

While she had been stalking Ragged-ear, a giant Snake had been stalking her. When she prepared her death leap, Snake dropped to her back and began to wrap itself around her chest. With massive coils the size of Megantereon’s leg, trying to squirm away did no good.

Ragged-ear tried to run, but his legs buckled. Megantereon didn’t care because she now fought a rival that always won. The She-cat’s wails grew softer and then silent. Ragged-ear tasted her death as he dragged himself into a hole at the base of an old tree, as far as possible from scavengers who would be drawn to the feast.

He awoke with Sun’s light, tried to stand, but his legs again folded. Ragged-ear remained in the hole, eyes closed, curled around himself to protect his vulnerable stomach, his tail tickling his nose, comforting.

He survived the Upright’s assault because they deemed him dead. He would not allow them to be right.

Sun came and went. Ragged-ear consumed anything he could find, even eggs, offal, and long-dead carcasses his pack normally avoided. His legs improved until he could chase rats, fat round ground birds, and moles, a welcome addition to his diet. Sometimes, he vomited what he ate and swallowed it again. The day came he once again set out after what remained of his pack, his pace more sluggish than prior to the attack, but quick enough for safety.

Ragged-ear picked up the female’s scent again and tracked her to another den. He slept there for the night and repeated his hunt the next day and the next.

Everywhere he traveled, when he crossed paths with an Upright, it was their final battle.

By thomasstigwikman

My name is Thomas Wikman. I am a software/robotics engineer with a background in physics, but I am currently retired. I took early retirement. I am a dog lover, and especially a Leonberger lover, a home brewer, craft beer enthusiast, an amateur astronomer, I’m learning French, and I am an avid reader. I live in Dallas, Texas, but I am originally from Sweden. I am married to Claudia, and we have three children Jacob, David and Rachel. My blog feature the crazy adventures of our Leonberger e Bronco von der Löwenhöhle as well as information on Leonbergers

71 replies on “Virtual Book Blast For Natural Selection and Ump and Bronco”

I had never heard of a Leonberger before, but they sounds like wonderful steadfast and loyal dogs. I’m sorry Bronco has passed over the rainbow bridge, but it sounds like he left paw prints on plenty of hearts.

I really enjoyed this post showing the comparisons between Bronco and Ump. What a great way to showcase Jacqui’s amazing book!

Liked by 3 people

Yes he certainly left pawprints in our hearts. We miss him every day. He was an amazing dog who did so much for all of us other dogs and humans. The comparison of dogs and the questions was Jacqui’s clever idea. I love it too. Thank you so much Mae for stopping by.

Liked by 2 people

Hi Thomas – I agree Jacqui has written an incredible series … but fascinating to read about your Leonberger … a gentle giant – dogs are amazing at how sensitive they can be. Bronco sounds such fun – cheers Hilary

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Yes she did write an incredible series and Leonbergers are amazing dogs, so strong, so loving and easy going and so protective. You are right dogs can be very sensitive and especially Leonbergers who were bred to be companion dogs. If someone is sad or upset they feel and they come to comfort you by giving hugs (pressing their head to you side) and licking you. Thank you for stopping by Hilary and cheers!

Liked by 2 people

Great feature – here and on Jacqui’s blog. We have a rescue dog that is a mix of many breeds. Now that I’ve seen a photo of Bronco, I’m sure our Maya has Leonberger in her. Her snout and head are a bit narrower, but her coloring, ears, and eyes are super recognizable.

When I stare at the photo of Bronco, it almost feels like I’m looking into the eyes of our dog! She also is very sensitive to our moods and cringes when there are arguments. She would come up to our laps when one of us is frustrated. Interesting stuff!

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That’s quite possible and interesting. Maya “also is very sensitive to our moods and cringes when there are arguments.” That’s how the Leonbergers were bred, to be sensitive companion dogs. That’s what Bronco did too. Thank you for stopping by Liesbet.

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Yes they are majestic and so kind and playful, like big teddy bears, even though someone accused Bronco of being a wolf and Petsmart. If you want to see Leonbergers in action you look at the video in my previous post. It is long, about 15 minutes, but fast forward a bit and view it for 30 seconds and you get an idea. Thank you for stopping by Layla.

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Yes I think you are right. One thing, they are protective. Bronco chased of a peeping Tom who was terrorizing all the women in the neighborhood. What the police and private detectives that I hired could not do, Bronco did. Dogs have excellent hearing and a great sense of smell and they notice things quicker than we do, which probably helped early humans. They are also great companions. Thank you so much for stopping by.

Liked by 1 person

Yes you are right. Leonbergers are perfect family dogs. They have an excellent sense of smell and hearing and their strength, size and loud booming bark make them perfect protectors, at the same time as their gentleness make them great for families and they are great with other dogs. Bronco did a lot of helping. He sniffed out and saved run away hamsters, chased off a trespassing peeping Tom who was terrorizing the women in the neighborhood. The police and detectives I hired couldn’t get him but Bronco solved the problem. He also saved our pug’s life (from an unleashed attacking German Shepherd) and alerted us to an oncoming insulin shock in our Labrador, and might have saved his life too.

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Thank you so much Jacqui. Yes I love how they sit by the window and wait for you when you come home and they wag their tail and jump and are so happy when you come in. However, because of Bronco’s size we couldn’t allow him to playfully jump on people. But with some simple techniques we got that under control.

Liked by 2 people

Thomas, an inspired post between you and Jacqui! Not knowing anything about Leonbergers it is great to learn that they are such empathic dogs, caring and looking out for others and incredibly loyal. It was fascinating how the fictional Ump is considered as important a member of the tribe as the early man and that they would share their catch with them equally. A fascinating read and an engaging look into Jacqui’s third book in the series.

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