When I was in high school I wrote a series of stories called “Bones of Pompeii.” The series is about a group of sentient, anthropomorphic dogs. They aren’t bipedal nor do they wear clothes, but they have opposing thumbs, use tools, talk to humans, etc. The dogs travel to Pompeii’s ruins to investigate some paranormal happenings there and eventually make it their home. The series mostly centers on a Newfoundland dog named Chan and his budding relationship with a shape-shifting human woman named Serena (more on them later).
I’d love to revamp the series as it is weird and delightful, but for now I’m creating family trees of its characters. This is the Lab/Spitz/Whippet character family tree:
1st generation (the parents of the main characters)
Hunter – Hunter is a typical farm dog living in West Virginia. She is a full-blooded golden Lab, but mated with a dog of unknown breeding who, in fact, doesn’t even make an effort to be in his pups’ lives. They don’t even know his name. For this – among other things – Hunter has a strained relationship with one of her two daughters, Fiona. However, Hunter isn’t ashamed of her life as a common farm dog or her past choices. Fiona is one of Hunter’s five pups, the others being Lisbet (female), Cambridge “Camie” (male), Josh (male) and Jed (male).
Razor/Dottie – Razor is a German shepherd/Siberian husky mix. He wooed a beautiful red Alaskan malamute named Dottie in their hometown of London, England. After they became mates, however, Razor became extremely possessive of her and, as Dottie was pregnant with his pups, increasingly abusive emotionally and then physically. When the pups – Logan and Jonah (both male) – were born, Dottie fled her mate, fearing he would hurt her children. Razor tracked his mate and sons to a safe place in London where they were staying with a kindly human woman. He managed to get hold of Logan and blackmailed Dottie saying he would hurt the pup if she didn’t come back to him to stay. Logan, though a small puppy, attacked his father and ran away, reuniting with her and Jonah. From that moment on, Logan trained hard to guard and defend his mother and brother, becoming so fearsome Razor wouldn’t dare come near them. Logan never forgave his father.
Esmeralda/Yuri – Esmeralda and Yuri, a lilac/white whippet and fawn/white whippet respectively, were both born and reared in Los Angeles, Calif. Though they never lived together, they remain on friendly terms after mating twice to produce two litters. Each litter contained only one pup. Toga (male) is the eldest and Sacramento (female) is the youngest. Yuri maintains a cool friendliness toward Esmeralda; they were never passionate lovers, but tolerate one another for their pups’ benefit. Yuri has always been an attentive father, visiting, playing with and teaching his pups, though he is a bit uptight. Esmeralda is beautiful, sly and manipulative when it comes to having her way.
Snowflake – Very little is known about Snowflake, the female wolf who gave birth to the twin wolf sisters, Zelda and Xena, as the best sources of information pertaining to her, her daughters, are famously silent about their mother. In fact, they may know little about her as they were born in captivity and raised by human hands. It is known that Snowflake was captured by humans and mated with a wolf/dog hybrid (possibly a larger dog breed hybrid like a St. Bernard/wolf or Great Pyrenees/wolf considering Zelda and Xena’s massive size). Their dog heritage could explain why both Zelda and Xena chose a mate in the whippet Toga.
2nd generation (main characters)
Fiona – Fiona knew she was special from puphood. Julia Anne, the daughter of the farmer on whose property Fiona’s family lived, was charged with feeding Hunter and her brood. The little human girl developed a close bond with all the puppies, but especially “Fee” as she called the pup. Soon, Fiona followed her around everywhere and began imitating sounds the girl made, eventually learning to talk to Julia Anne like a human toddler might, saying phrases like “Hey!” and “Good food!” Julia Anne, being only a child at the time, was delighted by her “magic doggie” and ran home to tell her father. Her father, like most adults, brushed off his daughter’s idea as silly, but when Julia Anne persisted, he humored her to take a look at Fiona.
Fiona, being an innocent pup, saw no reason to hide her talent to speak to humans and greeted the farmer with “Good morning!” The farmer naturally flipped out, calling Fiona “devil dog” and left for the farmhouse with murderous plans to drown Fiona, Hunter and the rest of their family. Hunter got wind of this and immediately left the farm with her pups, headed for the Appalachian Mountains.
Though Hunter never said it, Fiona sensed her mother’s resentment of her – Fiona being the cause the family had to leave everything they’d ever known. Hunter, true to her name, made a living catching squirrels, rabbits and other small mammals to feed her pups. It was a lean, difficult life picking off skinny rodents and skirting angry bears. One night, Fiona overheard her sister Lisbet telling their other siblings how, “This is all the ‘devil dog’ Fiona’s fault.”
Fiona thought no one noticed her eavesdropping, but her brother Cambridge, to whom she was closest, did. He pursued her, as she fully intended to run away from her family. When he caught up to her, however, she pointed out to him that their family’s life “would be easier without me.” When she asked Camie if he denied it, he couldn’t say yes.
Tearfully, Fiona fled her family. She wouldn’t see them again for many years. Fiona lacked her mother’s aptitude for hunting and was slowly starving to death. Through pure chance, the adolescent stumbled upon the campsite of two hikers hiking the Appalachian Trail – Brigette and Esteban. Fiona figured she’d die either way – of starvation or killed by frightened humans – so she spoke to Brigette saying, “I’m hungry!”
To Fiona’s amazement, Brigette seemed only mildly surprised … and not that the adolescent pup could talk, but that Fiona would be lost and alone wandering the Appalachian Mountains. Brigette would become Fiona’s closest human friend. Brigette explained to Fiona that she and her partner, Esteban, were researching dogs such as Fiona who could speak to humans. Their base of research was in London, England and Brigette invited Fiona to go there with them. She assured Fiona’s part in the research would be “completely consensual,” but Fiona – starving, cold, and estranged from her family – saw no other choice but to go …
Logan – Meanwhile, in London, a young adult German shepherd/Siberian husky/Alaskan malamute cross named Logan had been captured while scrounging food for his mother and brother. He thought he’d been taken in by animal control. Logan, being something of a vain dog, believed the first sap human for a pretty face would pick him up and he could make his escape back to his family. Fate, however, had other plans.
Logan was taken to a research facility and there met a human man named Esteban. Esteban assured Logan he was in no danger, but had heard rumors of an extraordinary dog who could speak to humans and even play the guitar! The dog fit Logan’s description. Logan feigned ignorance until his brother Jonah was brought in and threatened to which Logan admitted, in the English human tongue, to Esteban he was indeed the dog he was looking for.
After his family fled his abusive father, Logan had been the sole provider for his mother and brother. He found he could imitate human talk and eventually mastered it and used his skill to swindle humans out of food. He also figured out the operation of human locks and security codes and developed a knack for breaking and entering. Logan became quite popular with a gang of stray dogs on the London streets – their leader a ravishing Siberian husky mix named Dolly. One night, after he picked the lock of a department store, Logan and his gang came upon human instruments. Logan discovered he could manipulate these instruments in the same way he could locks and keys and security devices.
Dolly told Logan to forget about “human rubbish” and even asked him to be her mate. It was a tempting proposition. Dolly led perhaps the most powerful dog gang in the Soho district; that meant plenty of food and protection for his mother, Dottie, and brother Jonah.
However, Logan’s natural curiosity got the best of him. He returned to the music shop and fell into a trap. From there he met Esteban and a human woman – his partner Brigette. They were researching “special” canines who had been cropping up throughout the Western World who could talk to humans, use tools and basically possessed higher intellect than the average Fido. They wished to study Logan. Logan had no choice. He traded his full cooperation for Jonah’s freedom. Jonah didn’t want to go, but Logan pled with his brother to leave him and care for their mother.
Logan thought his life over as he was led away to meet the other dogs in the research facility: an adolescent female golden Lab named Fiona, a blue heeler puppy called Francine and a young male whippet named Toga.
Toga – Toga had always been a sly whippet, but he was also rather lazy. His fawn-and-white coat was about the only thing he shared with his father, Yuri. Yuri had wanted his son to be a racer or a show dog such as himself, but Toga only cared to flirt with pretty bitches and let life take him where it would. Toga’s mother, Esmeralda, indulged her favorite pup and pretty much gave him his way.
Toga began running with a pack of stray dogs – “mongrels” his father disdainfully called them – around Los Angeles during his adolescence. Yuri raged and warned the pup would come to a bad end, but Esmeralda ignored her mate’s prognostications; Toga was the sole pup in her first litter and her only child for a long time.
One day, Yuri’s warnings indeed came true – Toga was captured along with his pack. To his great surprise, his pack “brothers” were released, but he was kept by a beautiful human woman named Delilah. “Well,” he thought. “It’s nothing I can’t charm my way out of.”
Toga knew he had a pretty face and all the charm he needed. He also had the bizarre trait to communicate with humans, a talent Esmeralda warned him not to share except in dire circumstances; Toga thought this was pretty dire. So he turned the puppy-dog-eyes on Delilah and whispered, “Hey, pretty bitch, are you greedy or somethin’ keeping me all to yourself?”
Delilah was shocked, but not for the reason you’d expect. She quickly schooled Toga in the proper way to talk to human females; “pretty bitch” isn’t regarded as a proper salutation for a human woman.
“Well, I didn’t know any better, baby,” he cooed, batting liquid whippet eyes her way.
Delilah smiled. No female, canine or human, was immune to Toga’s charm. She explained to him that he was in a research facility for “special” dogs of higher intellect than most with outstanding qualities – the greatest of these being the ability to speak to humans.
A very nervous blue heeler puppy was then led inside Toga’s enclosure by a human man named Esteban. Esteban was exasperated with the little bitch because she wouldn’t talk. His frustration only made her more frightened. Delilah suggested Toga might help calm the pup, Francine, down.
“It’s all right,” Toga soothed her after the humans had gone. “I think these humans are cool.”
At first, she only stared at him with huge, terrified grey-blue eyes, but then, after much coaxing, she spoke to him: “S’not the humans I’m a’feared of,” she stammered. “Leastways, not all, like.”
“What else are you afraid of?” Toga asked her gently.
Francine began to sob.
Toga had hated being an only child and often begged his parents for a sibling. Esmeralda and Yuri had mated for the sole purpose of having a pup, so they weren’t exactly affectionate toward one another. Eventually, they caved to Toga’s demand and Esmeralda got pregnant with a second litter. However, as with Toga’s litter, this one contained only one puppy – a fawn-and-white female named Sacramento.
Toga, who was already an adolescent at the time, doted on his baby sister. Sacramento had her brother’s good looks, but Toga warned any male away with snaps and snarls – no dog was good enough for his sister. Toga liked his parents – in his way – but he was fiercely devoted to Sacramento.
It was natural he’d feel protective of another vulnerable female pup. Though he coaxed Francine with whimpers and whines, she wouldn’t admit what could make her more afraid than these mysterious humans. He tried to persuade her to talk about her family, but she became more upset. The only thing he could get out of her was that she was the runt of a very large and rowdy litter.
Toga swore to look after Francine. That’s when another human woman named Brigette appeared leading two more adolescent dogs – a gruff male named Logan and a honey-colored female named Fiona.
Toga was instantly smitten with Fiona and vowed to win her over with his charm. As soon as Brigette had gone, the young dogs put their heads together to whisper.
“What do the humans want with us?” Fiona asked.
“Nothing good, you can bet,” Logan growled. He had a hard time trusting anyone – including humans. “You were so quick to trust that human Brigette,” he said accusingly to Fiona.
Fiona’s floppy yellow ears drooped. “I had nowhere to go,” she replied.
“You’re better off on yer own, believe me,” Logan said.
“Well, maybe in the city!” Fiona snapped. “Try fighting bears in the mountains!”
“Let’s not fight,” Toga soothed. “You’re so pretty even when you’re mad, honey,” he cooed to Fiona. “I can imagine how cute you’d look with a smile.”
Fiona turned up her nose at him to show she wasn’t interested.
“S’not the humans to be a’feared of,” Francine quavered. “S’not all, any road.”
“You keep saying that,” Logan said impatiently. “But you haven’t ‘plained at all what you mean by it, gel.”
Francine tucked her brush of a tail and hid behind Toga. “Leave her alone,” Toga said, showing his fangs at Logan. “You’re not the only male here to lead a street pack.”
The big malamute-cross looked doubtfully at the smaller whippet, but said nothing. He wanted to fight, but was smart enough to know they needed each other to survive.
Fiona nosed Francine gently. “Please tell us what you know,” she asked. “We’re all scared.” A smile played around her black lips. “Even those brave dogs,” she said, jerking her head at the males. “But we’ve got to help each other to get out of here.”
Francine looked at Fiona with huge eyes before whispering: “Tis a way out, but it’s terribly dangerous. S’one reason the humans keep us here. They’re very afraid of us.”
“Because we can speak to them?” Logan snorted. “So what?”
“S’not all we can do. S’not all I can do, any road,” Francine replied.
Fiona, Logan and Toga leaned in closer to her. “What can you do?” Fiona asked in a gentle whine.
“Get us out ‘o here,” Francine whispered. She broke into trembling sobs. “Same’s I got away from the ‘umans the firs’ time!”
“Well, get on wit’ it, gel,” Logan rumbled. “I got a mum and a brother to look out for.”
Francine shook her head until her tall ears flapped. “I cannot. I cannot!” she exclaimed.
Brigette came running inside the enclosure, followed close by Esteban. Francine turned on them with fangs bared. “E’nogh now!” she snarled. “Stay back! I warned you the firs’ time and you dinne listen!” Francine spoke to the other dogs without turning her head. “Ima send you away! Stay there and don’ try to come back, hear?”
Suddenly, there was a bright flash of light. The last thing Fiona, Logan and Toga saw of the humans was Esteban’s face twisted in terror and Brigette pushing Delilah back out of the enclosure shouting: “Get help! The smallest one is unstable again!”
Then the bright light seemed to engulf the humans and Francine and all their surroundings. There was only Fiona, Logan and Toga adrift in the sea of blinding white light. The next thing they knew, the three young dogs were lying on a beautiful sandy beach with the waves of the ocean lapping at their hind feet. Inland, a white villa stood at the crest of a nearby hill.
They glanced around anxiously, but there was no sign of the humans or Francine …
You must be content to jump ahead several years during which Fiona, Logan and Toga have been living on the little island they mysteriously came upon after they escaped the research facility in London.
3rd generation (children of the main characters)
Gavin – Fiona and Logan eventually mated (Toga’s efforts were in vain, but he and Fiona always remained close friends) and produced twin sons. Gavin is a handsome extrovert who loves “playing the field” as soon as he’s old enough. He struts around leaving a string of broken hearts in his wake. He’s actually very insecure about his appearance and masculinity and the constant attention of females is the only way he feels he can have any self-worth.
Janus – Janus is very like his brother in constantly struggling with self-doubt, but Janus is shy and serious-minded. He also struggles with the fact that Gavin is his parents’ “favorite” child. Janus falls hard for Toga’s beautifully exotic daughter …
Lizette – A few years after Toga, Fiona and Logan arrived on the island Toga encountered two wolves – sisters known as Zelda and Xena. Instead of eating the whippet, as they first suggested, they fell for his charm and let him go. Eventually, Toga began meeting the wolf sisters privately. They had no pack (aside from one another) and were lonely for more canine company. The wolves and the whippet began a polyamorous relationship in which the wolf sisters could mate with Toga, but they could have no more lovers and neither could he.
Toga introduced Zelda and Xena to his dog allies, but they were wary of the sisters as they were wolves and dog meat had often been on their menu. This put a strain on the relationship and eventually Zelda broke the contract and took another mate. Xena was torn between loyalty to her mate and loyalty to her sister. Around that time she became pregnant with Toga’s pups. She gave birth to three little females – Angel, Kala and Lizette – but only Lizette survived beyond her first day of life. Xena was heartbroken and abandoned her family; she couldn’t bear to be reminded daily of her two dead pups.
Toga was left to raise his sole surviving daughter. He adored and spoiled “his Lizzy” as he called her and she grew into a haunty and beautiful dog. Gavin and Janus were about her age. As they grew to adolescence, Lizette began fawning on Gavin though she had pickings of many suitors. Janus warned her about his brother, of his past conquests and the broken hearts he left in his wake. Lizette didn’t listen and pursued him. It was just as Janus predicted, however; Gavin chased the next pretty tail he saw and left Lizette in the dust.
Heartbroken, she withdrew from canine society; she’d only tolerate the presence of her dear puphood friend Janus. Toga, who hated Gavin for what he’d done to his baby, urged Janus to share his feelings with Lizette. Janus, stammering and terrified she’d reject him, finally did and she accepted him as her mate. Soon afterward Lizette discovered she was pregnant with two sons, Adonis and Nero. She couldn’t be sure if their father was Gavin or Janus, but Janus raised and claimed the pups as his sons.
Nick – Fiona and Logan eventually split up due in large part to Logan’s possessiveness of her. Logan went back to Logan and reunited with his old flame Dolly. They wanted to keep their relationship strictly platonic, but one thing led to another and Dolly was pregnant with Logan’s son Nick.
Fiona is kindly to Nick and Gavin and Janus are fond of their half-brother though they are adults when he is born. Nick comes to the island and becomes closer to Adonis and Nero, his half-nephews, who are around his own age than his much older half-brothers.