"I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts."

John Steinbeck


Marlin the copper Siberian husky stared at the brown and white Mackenzie River husky, trying very hard to digest this revelation. "Pregnant," he breathed. "Are you sure? Are you really, really sure?" The two were in a small clearing, a few miles from the kennels where Marlin lived with his family.

The Mackenzie River husky, Coral, nodded her head. "My humans took me to the vet this afternoon," she replied. "I'll be due in about seven to eight weeks. Right now, they don't know who the father is." She looked down at the ground. After a long moment of silence, she said, "Your parents won't accept this, Marlin."

"I know," he said.

"We can't tell them."

"I know."

Coral gazed up at him. "We'll have to run away together."

Marlin's eyes widened. "What? Run away as in...run away...from here?"

"Yes, Marlin." Coral straightened up in her sitting position. "Your parents have never liked the idea of...of crossbreeding. You could get in trouble with them for this. And it isn't like everyone will miss us, or worry where we've gone if we do run away. We could be together forever, Marlin. We just have to do this one thing, and then we won't have to fear what everyone will say about this."

"But...but Coral..." Marlin trailed off. The news that Coral was having his puppies was a big shock to him—and thank the heavens that he didn't faint after she'd delivered the news!—but the proposal to run away together...to leave everything they've ever known behind...

"Where would we go, Coral?" Marlin objected, a little too loudly. He swallowed and dropped his tone. "If we leave, we'll be on our own. We don't know anyone beyond our respective kennels, and you're miles away from the place you were born! We'll have to become strays. We'll spend the rest of our lives fighting for our lives. Our kids will have to spend their whole lives fighting for their lives. We can't do that."

"Yes, but I know a place where we can go," Coral replied, eyes bright. "I know where we'll be accepted. It'll be perfect for us."

"Where? Where is it?" Marlin pressed. "What's it called?"

Coral looked up at the evening sky. "It's called the Great Canid Valley. My mother told me stories about it when I was a puppy. All kinds of dogs travel from all around the world to live there. No humans have ever been there, because they don't know it exists."

"The Great Canid Valley," Marlin murmured. Then something came to him. "Isn't that place just a myth?"

"It isn't. My mother said she grew up there. She left the valley to be with my father, who was owned by humans and didn't want to leave them. She had hoped that she'd be able to bring me there before our owners sold me here."

Marlin frowned. "So you don't know where it is," he said.

"When I left my mother, I didn't," she stated. "But it wasn't until a few months ago that I heard one of my teammates talk about the place. She said it was north or northeast of here. About a few days' walk."

"A few days?" Marlin sounded doubtful. "Are you sure? Who told you?"

"I'm sure. And why does it matter where I got my information from? If we leave tonight—"

"Tonight?" Marlin cried. Coral hushed him. Marlin dropped his voice once again. "Tonight, Coral?" he whispered.

"Yes. You're not afraid, are you?" Coral gave him a challenging look.

"I'm not! But...but I don't think we should be rushing into this. Coral, I love you. I want to be with you, and I want to raise our puppies with you. But we should think about this. Leaving the kennels, leaving our lives here...it's a big change. If we go through with it, we might never be able to come back, even if we wanted to."

Coral frowned, but she nodded her head. "Fine, then. Why don't we try for...tomorrow afternoon? Is that okay with you?"

Marlin nodded.

"We'll meet back here. Okay?"

"I will. I promise."


Sylvie watched from her hiding spot in the bushes as her brother conversed with that...Carol? Cora? Sylvie never bothered to remember her name, mostly because she never liked that...she-dog. It was one thing for her to romance her dear little brother, but it was another thing entirely to become pregnant with his pups, and to entice him into running away with her to some...mythical valley that couldn't possibly exist!

Sylvie's ears flattened against her skull as she watch Marlin exchange a goodnight nuzzle with Coral before setting off for the kennels. Coral went off in the opposite direction. Sylvie waited until they were out of sight before she stepped out from the bushes.

Ma and Papa won't like what they hear, Sylvie thought as she made her way to the kennels. But we need to keep Marlin as safe as possible.


Revised prologue will be about 3 to 4 parts. That's all I'm going to say.