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Recap / Survivor Dogs: The Empty City

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The Empty City is the first Survivors book released and the first story of the original arc.

The book starts with a mother dog telling her puppies of the mythical "Storm of Dogs", a great battle that happened generations ago and that is prophesied to occur again in the future.

Years later, one of the puppies is now an adult named Lucky. Lucky is trapped in a shelter cage when an earthquake suddenly hits. The only other survivor is a Greyhound female named Sweet. Lucky and Sweet escape the shelter, but Lucky injures his paw on his cage's wire.

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Lucky and Sweet disagree on what to do after leaving together. Lucky, raised a street dog, wants to stay in the city he's always called home. Sweet, however, is used to living out in the woods with her pack. She keeps on asking Lucky to run off with her, but Lucky doesn't like the idea of living in a pack—he's a Lone Dog through and through. After finding a dying human trapped in rubble, Sweet decides enough is enough and leaves the city on her own.

Back to being a loner again, Lucky tries to figure out how to live after the earthquake. He can't beg for food because all the humans are gone and so much of the city has been ruined. He comes across a human on the outskirts of town that seems untouched, but Lucky is ran off by the human's angry dog when he tries to steal food. Lucky soon finds himself going to the mall for shelter.

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At the mall, Lucky meets an old buddy of his called "Old Hunter". However, Old Hunter isn't quite as friendly as before. He has found a refrigerator full of meat and can't risk to give it up to anyone else, friend or foe. But after Lucky saves him from being electrocuted by a broken wire, Old Hunter decides to give Lucky some food after all. When leaving the mall, Lucky comes face-to-face with a group of hungry gray foxes. Lucky is saved when a gang of dogs helps him. He soon notices that one of the dogs is his litter-sister Bella, who he hasn't seen since puppyhood. It turns out that they're a group of pet dogs who grew up together and are now on their own after their owners exacuated. Lucky decides that, though he's not a pack dog, he'll stay with his sister and her friends for the time being.

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Bella and the others - a Maltese named Sunshine, a Border Collie named Mickey, a German Shepherd named Bruno, a Westie/Jack Russel mix named Daisy, and a Newfoundland named Martha - return to their homes but Lucky warns them of the dangers. There they (or more appropriately, just Lucky) save a neighborhood English Bulldog named Alfie. The ragtag group end of leaving after they rescue Daisy from a gas leak by her house.

Lucky and the others leave the city but find it hard to live in the surrounding wilderness. The ex-pets aren't used to dirt, exercise, or hunger. The rivers they come across are also poisoned with a mysterious rainbow hue and they come across a strange, unfriendly human in yellow "fur". The dogs end up finding a territory to live and in, day by day, the dogs get more used to living without humans.

After Alfie tells of nearby dogs he's seen, Bella and a few other dogs go to investigate, with Lucky reluctantly tagging long. They find a group of Doberman Pinchers living alone in a settlement full of refilling dog bowls. Bella decides to steal some of their food, which Lucky decides not to, which leads to Bella and the others being taken prisoner by the Fierce Dogs. It's up to Lucky to save his headstrong sister and their packmates. After returning home, it's decided that the pack should move on so that they're not tracked back by the angry dogs. While leaving, the dogs come across another unfriendly human - a hunter with a deer carcass - that helps prove Lucky's point of staying away from humans.

After they find a new territory, Lucky decides that he's spent enough time with his temporary pack. The Leashed Dogs are now prepared enough to live without him so he leaves the group. After leaving, he hears strange noises in the distance. They sound like dogs fighting. Lucky realizes that maybe he shouldn't have left his friends and runs back to them.


This book provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Lucky's owner was an angry alcoholic who would often hit Lucky. The abuse led to Lucky running away.
  • Animal Religion: Dogs have an elaborate religion full of Anthropomorphic Personifications of nature and various religious rituals.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Lucky's owner was a cruel man who beat him while drunk. This tainted Lucky's view of humans and made him never want to be someone's pet.
  • Big, Stupid Doodoo-Head: Lucky uses these types of insults, along with Your Mom, against the Fierce Dogs.
  • Childhood Friends: The Leashed Dogs grew up together.
  • Cradle of Loneliness: Lucky finds Bella cradling her owner's belongings.
  • All Dogs Are Purebred: Averted. Most of the Leashed Dogs are pure, but not all the dogs are purebred.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The characters know what a stuffed bear is. Later books have bears referred to as "giantfurs". Likewise, the characters know what an ocean is but they later refer to it as an "Endless Lake".
  • Long-Lost Relative: Lucky is reunited with his sister Squeak, now called Bella, at the mall.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The book begins with Lucky as a pup named "Yap" before cutting to him as an adult.
  • Old Dog: Old Hunter, a Street Smart stray that taught Lucky much of what he knows.
  • A Pet into the Wild:
    • Lucky was born a pet but ran away as a puppy due to an abusive owner.
    • Old Hunter was a pet but he left when his owners abandoned him as a puppy.
    • The Leashed Pack consists of pets that were abandoned when their owners were forced to exacuate.
  • Pets Versus Strays: A lot of the tension of the book comes from Lucky and his friends having different viewpoints on being pets.
  • Post-Apocalyptic Dog: The dogs believe the "Growls" are apocalyptic. Their owners have left them alone to fend for themselves.
  • The Prophecy: One day a dog will displease the Earth-Dog and there will be another Storm of Dogs.
  • Pounds Are Animal Prisons: Subverted. Lucky and Sweet dislike the "Trap House" and don't understand why they're in it, but Lucky admits the humans take care of the dogs.
  • Wound Licking: According to Lucky, licking your wound is the best treatment. He uses it when he injures his paw and teaches the Leashed Dogs about wound licking as well.
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