Enzo goes back in time in his narration to tell the story leading up to the events of the previous chapter. He starts by saying that Denny picked him out of a pile of other puppies in an Eastern Washington town called Spangle. His mother was a lab, and Enzo never knew his father. Denny was told that Enzo was a shepherd-poodle mix, but Enzo doesn't believe this since there were no dogs like that on the farm, and the “alpha man” who bred him was mean and told nothing but lies. This man had definite opinions about the relative intelligence of different breeds and believed that shepherds and poodles were the most intelligent when bred with a lab for temperament. Enzo says this is junk; shepherds and poodles are reactors, not independent thinkers.
Enzo sets up a very clear hierarchy of dog breeds. Notice that he doesn't value athleticism or size; he values intelligence and problem-solving abilities. This ties in with Enzo's belief that his soul is more human than dog, as he believes that humans are in some ways smarter than dogs. As the first dominating figure in Enzo’s life, the alpha man is the only name Enzo knows for his breeder.
Enzo says he's sure his father was a terrier, because terriers are problem solvers who will do as they're told only if they wanted to do it anyway. On the farm, there was a big mean Airedale who stayed on a different part of the property. When this dog came up the hill, everyone stayed clear because he was extremely aggressive and would mount any female dog in heat without a care in the world. Enzo says he has the brown/black, wiry Airedale coat, and he likes to think that this dog was his father.
Enzo aligns himself with terriers because he sees himself as smart and with excellent problem solving skills. He wants to be a part of this family of dogs for this reason—it becomes a way for Enzo to shape his identity through his family of origin.
The day that Enzo left the farm, it was extremely hot. As he and his littermates tussled, a hand reached and grabbed him, and the man said "this one." The man was Denny. He was slender but assertive, with short hair and a beard. The lady of the farm said that this puppy was the pick of the litter, and the alpha man said that they were thinking of keeping him. Enzo, at only 12 weeks, had heard this line before—the man used it to get more money. Denny asked if he'd let this puppy go, and the alpha man said he would for a price.
Even at 12 weeks old, we see how perceptive Enzo is of the people around him. He sees how mean the alpha man is and already knows his tricks for getting more money for puppies. This keen sense of perception will continue to serve Enzo throughout his life. Primarily through listening and watching, Enzo will formulate theories about how communication and language work.