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.


A Leonberger and His Little Pug Friend

Our Leonberger Bronco (Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle) grew up with several dogs, one of them being our Pug Daisy, which we still have. Bronco and Daisy were good friends and on one occasion Bronco saved Daisy from an attacking lose German Shepherd. We’ve owned a very well-behaved German Shepherd, they are good dogs, but this particular one wasn’t.

Bronco stepped in between the German Shepherd and Daisy and got bitten in the leg in the process. Leonbergers are about double as strong as German Shepherds and almost double as massive and they have more powerful jaws. However, Bronco was old and had just had surgery in the leg in which he was bit, so it was certainly a sacrifice on his part. I was mad and I ran after the German Shepherd and tried kicking him and between mine and Bronco’s efforts he ran off. I cursed at the owner of the German Shepherd for letting him run lose in a public space. Maybe I shouldn’t have, but in the end Daisy our innocent sweet Pug was alive. What a day that was. Anyway, in this post I am showing a few photos I took of Bronco and Daisy.

Photo of our Pug Daisy (left) and our Leonberger Bronco (right)
Daisy (Pug) and Bronco (Leonberger)
Photo of Bronco and Daisy in the kitchen with pieces of gingerbread on the floor. Bronco raided the gingerbread house, but he is sharing with Daisy.
Bronco raided a gingerbread house, but he is sharing with Daisy.
Photo of Daisy and Bronco in the backyard. Green grass, a fence and some trees.
Daisy and Bronco in the backyard

Above Daisy and Bronco on our large wide leather sofa.

Photo of Daisy and Bronco in front of a sort of hotdog cake. It is Daisy's birthday.
Daisy’s birthday

Finally, I also would like to highlight the Dawn of Humanity series written by Jacqui Murray once again. I loved this series and I highly recommend it. Below I am posting some information about the Dawn of Humanity series.

Book Trailer
Bronco's Adventures

A Gigantic Cone of Shame And Our Friend Ump

Our Leonberger Bronco (Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle) had an issue with recurring squamous cell carcinoma in his toes requiring surgery. Each time Bronco had toe surgery, he needed to wear a so-called cone of shame to prevent him from licking the site of the amputation. In the beginning, we used a standard hard plastic see-through cone. They are very practical and work well, but they don’t seem comfortable. Then we tried a Comfy Cone and a pillow cone. A Comfy Cone is shaped like a standard cone of shame, but it’s made of a soft material that’s comfortable to lean your head on. A pillow cone is an inflatable ring-shaped pillow that you put around a dog’s neck. In terms of comfort, this was probably the best solution. But in Bronco’s case, it wasn’t practical. He was just too big, and he could reach around even the largest size available. For him the best solution was the Comfy Cone.

The Comfy Cone came in the extra-large size that Bronco needed. However, the large size of the cone came with its own issues. As Bronco walked around the house his very large Comfy Cone was swinging back and forth knocking things over. Another problem was that the big swinging cone scared the living day lights out of our mini-Australian Shepherd. To him Bronco probably looked like a Dilophosaurus  or Triceratops with a giant frill. However, they loved each other. See Rollo lick Bronco’s face in the picture below.

Photo of our Leonberger Bronco accidentally clearing the coffee table of books, notepads and magazines.
When Bronco wore his Comfy Cone, he sometimes accidentally cleared the coffee table as he walked by.

Bronco was getting old, and he was having issues with his toes, and I believe that is why he also became a bit clingy. He often followed me around the house, and he did not want to be alone. When I went to the bathroom, I closed the door on him, and he waited for me outside the bathroom. I took the photo below after opening the bathroom door and he just barged in, cone and all.

Photo of Bronco Bronco barging into the bathroom with his huge cone and all after I opened the bathroom door.
Bronco barging into the bathroom with cone and all after I opened the bathroom door.
Photo of our mini-Australian Shepherd licking Bronco’s face. They loved each other.
Our mini-Australian Shepherd licking Bronco’s face. They loved each other.

Finally, in this post I also would like to highlight the Dawn of Humanity series written by Jacqui Murray. This captivating series is about the adventures of a group of pre-historic humans who live 1.8 million years. The books also include a pre-historic canine called Ump. He is affectionate, loyal, brave, and big, just like our Bronco was, which was another endearing aspect of these books. I highly recommend this series. Below I am posting some information about the series.

Book trailer: