Origin stories that reveal where beloved creatures and characters initially came from are all the rage these days, and FIRST DOG ON EARTH by Irv Weinberg is an especially good and unusual origin story. Who wouldn’t want to spend time imagining when and how what was perhaps to become humankind’s best friend in canine form first appeared?
This enchanting tale opens with images reminiscent of the Chauvet Cave famed prehistoric cave paintings from 30,000 or more years ago that were discovered in Southern France and include primitive boy-and-dog footprints forever immortalized on the floor of that location. It is from these that Weinberg imaginatively builds the story of Oohma, the first unusual wolf that chose to befriend man. For some reason Oohma and the rest of his litter came out of their mother’s womb different than previous litters. The pups were smaller, sleeker, more curious and more playful than most wolves the world had ever known. And with Oohma leading the way, once he and his siblings leave the nest, the pack finds itself eventually coming into contact with and interested in the most curious of creatures: removable-skin-wearing two-leggeds. Generally, the plot unfolds as if the details provided could be exactly what transpired in the lives of Oohma, the first dog, along with old one-eyed caveman Ish, medicine woman Nuun, her only daughter and protege, Lut, and brutish clan leader, Hun, as daily life was lived back when civilization was still making awesome discoveries, such as how to fashion drums or a bow and arrow.
Every now and then, however, there are notable exceptions where the logical outlay of plot falters. For instance, when Oohma stumbles into a substance that can hold its own shape and he isn’t able to shake off the layers the way he would with regular water or mud. Lut’s enthusiasm over this discovery of what turns out to be clay which can be made into pots is understandable, but readers who care about the health and happiness of canine companions may find themselves wondering and worrying how these long-ago humans safely removed the matter now caked on Oohma’s fur, since this part of the adventure is not given adequate attention. Overall though, this is a most marvelous book.
Loaded with ingenious ideas regarding, not only how and when the first canine appeared, but also things like how salt may have materialized in the life of ancient Man–FIRST DOG ON EARTH by Irv Weinberg is as artistically original as it is a fun read.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader