” I wonder,” said Hermes, “what it would be like if animals had human intelligence.”
” I’ll wager a year’s servitude, answered Apollo, that animals – any animal you like – would be even more unhappy than humans are, if they were given human intelligence.”
And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a Toronto veterinary clinic. Suddenly capable of more complex thought, the pack is torn between those who resist the new ways of thinking, preferring the old ‘dog’ ways, and those who embrace the change.
I love having a dog. Sometimes I think that it would be so much easier to be them, because they just get to run around all day and eat things, not having to go to work or school. Now my dog is older and I realize that her entire life has been lived by my rules. I was starting to feel horribly selfish, as if I were keeping the poor girl a captive. Then it occurred to me that she does not have human intelligence, and is probably just as happy to live with me as I am to live with her. I picked up Fifteen Dogs because granting dogs human intelligence was something I’ve always wondered about, and the debate of intelligence vs happiness is something I dwell on a lot.
André Alexis has both a very modern yet old-fashioned form of both writing and storytelling. His writing style suited the idea that Ancient Greek Gods were still present in our society fucking around with the lives of soon-to-be miserable animals in modern Toronto. The prose was deeply philosophical at points without losing it’s message. You don’t have to read into it too much if you don’t want to, but it gives you something to ponder if you do.
The novel reads kind of like a documentation of an experiment on dogs and their happiness, but it felt like a fully fleshed out story in the end. If the synopsis sounds good to you, read it. If it doesn’t then don’t. It’s exactly what it advertises itself to be. As is the trend with most Canadian content, expect to be disturbed and have your heart broken a few times. Some parts of this were also just downright strange, but I loved them.
Takeaway: Maybe we’d all be a little bit happier if we were a little bit dumber 🙂 Science already tells us this, but it’s fun to think about.
5 Ships- Loved It