As early as the 5th century B.C., the rulers of the pug dynasty had begun to erect the series of barriers that would eventually form the Great Wall of China. The history books tell us that the Great Wall was created by man to repel invaders from the north. But this is not true. In fact, the pugs built the wall to contain the millions of tennis balls used recreationally within the empire. As anyone who has played fetch in this part of the world knows, a ball is as good as gone once it reaches the gusting winds and shifting sands of the Gobi Desert.
As humans toiled for centuries to build the Great Wall for their canine overlords, the pugs focused on expansion. The empire's sphere of influence pushed east into the Korean Peninsula and south to modern-day Vietnam and Cambodia. The pugs conquered dozens of tribes in Central Asia and pushed northward into Russia, where they met heavier-than-usual resistance. Humans who would not submit to the canines' will were taken to labor camps where they were forced to spend up to 16 hours a day giving belly rubs to local dogs. It was a grueling existence, and many a human fingertip was rubbed raw and numb. Though harsh, the pugs' tactics sent the intended message to the Russian population. The Russian word for belly rub, "gulag," remained in use to describe forced-labor camps through Soviet times.
By the 13th century, the pug empire reigned supreme in Asia. But a human warlord was beginning to make waves on the Mongolian steppes. The man, dubbed Genghis Khan, united many of the nomadic human tribes of Northern Asia and raised a fearsome army. If any human could stand up to the pugs' rule, it was this rebel. In 1208 A.D., Genghis Khan massed tens of thousands of horsemen at the Great Wall, preparing an invasion of the pug heartland. They camped in the Great Wall's shadow through the harsh winter, as pug sentries watched from above and occasionally asked the humans to throw back wayward tennis balls. With the spring thaw of 1209, Genghis Khan was ready to make his move. What happened next would forever alter the course of history.
To be continued ...