Having never had a typical childhood, Kadian has survived with his older brother in the virus-torn world mostly through natural instincts and a bit of luck. Most survivors resent canines after the virus they carried killed more than a quarter of the human global population. But, this nomadic fourteen-year old orphan, he seems to like them more than people. After the K-Nine Unit, a ruthless paramilitary group determined to kill all canines, raids their city looking for these animals, Kadian is separated from his sibling. On his own for the first time, Kadian endures the violent landscape of self-anointed regional leaders and cannibals calling themselves headhunters, in the quest to find his captured brother.
Along the journey a veteran survivor, a clever fugitive canine, joins Kadian. Unlike most who would probably kill the animal at first glance, he forges an unusual bond with her.
Together, they seek refuge with a canine sympathizer group that stand against the K-Nine Unit. The group become particularly interested in Kadian when they discover the canines they protect seem to immediately follow and obey him without being trained. Kadian strikes a deal with them to enlist in their cause in exchange for their aid in tracking down his abducted sibling.
Unbeknownst to him, this precarious group believe him to be a survivor of the DogWhisperers, an underground society massacred years earlier for their clandestine research into the Canine Virus.