I have very little interest in watching the show Life After People because it's my understanding that the early episode(s) devote a great deal of time to the grim fate of pets left trapped in houses after all humans mysteriously disappear. Like, "Let's look at a hungry dog trying to tear through plastic into a loaf of bread" or "let's watch this cat try to open a door" level of detail. Seriously people, it's supposed to be educational, not a freaking tear-jerker.
However, I came across the LAP Wiki and found this article about U.S. Marine Corps German Shepherds. Basically they'd leave Camp Pendleton and form a dog pack called "The Last Marines" and survive for years, out-competing the local coyotes.
I'm a member (and technically an admin of) the S.M. Stirling Appreciation Society Facebook group, which is dedicated to the works of S.M. Stirling. Stirling himself is a regular participant, offering his fans behind-the-scenes details of his works. His most successful series is known as the Emberverse and begins with the novel Dies the Fire. Basically one day in 1998 all technology fails--no electricity, no internal combustion, no firearms. Within a year, 90% of the human race is dead. Most of California ends up a Death Zone where nobody lives except bands of cannibal savages.
This inspired me to write up the following proposal for a fan-fic, since many members of the group write semi-canonical fan-fic in this world. I don't have time to write it myself and I don't have the technical knowledge, but if anybody wants it they can have it.
Me: The story follows a pack of military K-9s (with or without their human handler) who survive the collapse of civilization and live in the wild. Heck, tell the story from their POV (xeno-fiction) and call it "The Last Marines." Heck, if you want a heartwarming ending, I'm imagining years later a descendant of one of those dogs raised in military K-9 ways by previous generations of dogs encountering surviving (human) descendants of US Marines from elsewhere (say a training detachment in an isolated area hooks up with/protects a group of survivors) and recognizes them as kin.
Another person, who is familiar with German Shepherd dogs, wrote the following:
This is cool. I have had GSDs for a few years. They would probably go looking for humans - they like the companionship. It would be interesting if a few were intact - then they could breed with coyotes. My GSD has a prey drive - he has, and would, eat a prey he can hunt. So far, rabbit was the largest one he caught and ate. But if they team up - the sky is the limit.
If they're naturally inclined to look for humans, perhaps "The Last Marines" wander California during the die-off, helping, say, catch runaway livestock or wild animals for a starving group of refugees under a bridge, ambushing and massacring a group of Eaters about to attack a "clean" survivor band, etc.
They could become the subject of legend among the survivors, as a sort of group of canine knights-errant. Perhaps that's how they come into contact, years later, with a group of human Marines (or their children raised in that culture)--the human Marines recognize obvious Marine stuff (do K-9s have "dog vests" or a particular habit or quirk they're trained into?) and seek them out.
For a heartwarming moment, set the contact with the human Marines in a years-later epilogue in which the oldest dog in the pack, the last of the original K-9s, lives just long enough to encounter the human Marines before going off to a long-deserved rest.
I'm not crying, you're crying.
Yes, that story brought tears to my eyes. I don't want to own a pet because I recognize the awesome (in the awe-inspiring sense, not the "AWESOME!" Ninja Turtles sense) responsibility it involves, but I do rather like dogs.
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