Born from flame and ash.
Nikolai had been bred with a purpose; guard. Taken from his parents not long after having been weaned, the wolfdog found himself the young apprentice on a ranch in the hot south, led by two older crosses, and one little older than him. Under their guidance, he became the pinnacle of... one of his breeds, at least. His days were consumed guarding the flocks, his sheep, fending off coyotes and ratty dogs looking to make a meal of his birds; he ate good, did good, each day the same as the last, and yearning for none different.
Yet it was not long after he turned two that he met the dry season at its cruelest, the worst the ranch had seen; a wildfire sparked and it ran hot, fast, tearing acres upon acres up with a vengeance of a sun. Coyotes, dogs, massive cats, bears... Nikolai and the others of his guarding band had attacked many, and fended off more, but none could contend with mother nature's ire. The territory surrounding the ranch burned. Trees crackled, ash flecked and flames licked until the fires stretched toward the ranch, engulfing it with a breath. Nikolai remained with his herd, sheep bleating and wailing in fright as the other animals fled or fell to the heat. Those of his band, included. Each meeting death thanks only to the purpose they were meant for; protecting. Locked within circles of flames... one by one until Nikolai found himself trudging through the fire, desperate to lead his flock to reprieve.
He merely led them to the waters, a small river. Yet to be touched by the heat.
The last thing he remembers is stepping a paw into the flowing chill.