Gabbler recently recommended Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis. I, however, have reservations about recommending the book (yes, I have read it too).
While the fable itself is fine, and the scenario is certainly interesting (Hermes and Apollo give human intelligence to fifteen dogs they find at a veterinary clinic for a bet to see whether or not even one will die happy), the story ultimately has no impact on how we understand our own said “intelligence” or the human-animal relationship.
Dogs were chosen as the subject for the experiment, and, since so, a population from a more diverse pool should have been employed. I was disappointed that no dogs from a kill shelter were involved, no dogs from a dog fighting ring were involved, no dogs from the meat trade in, say, China were involved. There was a lot of worthwhile material there. This was one way Apollo, Hermes, and Alexis himself avoided serious dog-specific cultural matters. None of the dogs really had to grapple with the holocaust their own species faces every day.
Instead, the story focuses on the symbol of the collar and leash, dominance in a pack/household, the existential nature of dogs trying to be dogs. This dance around the true issues a canine faces in our world ultimately made it a too-comfortable read, and, I think, kept the humans in the story and the humans reading the story from being confronted with what “human intelligence” is capable of.
But the bet itself was cool. Gods should gamble more often. Oh wait, that’s all they do.
[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]