On a farm between the Bavarian Alps and the city of Berlin, a carefree puppy named Etzel played in a sun-washed barnyard.
He chased the chickens, barking in delight at their squawks and flaps.
He tipped over his water bowl, splashing and sliding in sloppy-fun mud.
And he gulped down the last of his kibble, licking the bowl to shiny emptiness.
At last, tired and full, he flopped onto the squirming puppies nestled in the curve of his mother’s belly.
His sister, Greta, nipped his ear.
His brother, Otto, yipped a complaint.
But Etzel just wiggled down between them and sighed. His
He had just closed his eyes, when—
“Here’s a big, handsome one,” a man’s voice boomed.
Rough hands tore Etzel away from his family and held him high.
The puppy whimpered. His paws flailed in the suddenly cold air.
“Look at those markings,” the voice boomed again. “Only purebred German shepherds have those. And what fine teeth . . .”
Rude fingers pulled back Etzel’s lips.
“With the right training, they could tear a man to shreds. Should we take him?”
take him,” rumbled a second voice. “And we will turn him into the fiercest guard dog on the Berlin police force.”
Etzel was shoved into a canvas bag.
His mother barked.
Greta and Otto yelped.
In the bag’s darkness, Etzel whined.
Copyright © 2018 by Candace Fleming; illustrated by Eric Rohmann. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.