Fifteen Dogs

Fifteen Dogs

An Apologue

Book - 2015
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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. The gods watch from above as the dogs venture into their newly unfamiliar world, as they become divided among themselves, as each struggles with new thoughts and feelings.
Publisher: Toronto :, Coach House Books,, [2015]
ISBN: 9781552453056
Branch Call Number: ALEXI
Characteristics: 171 pages : map ; 21 cm
Alternative Title: 15 dogs : an apologue

Opinion

From Library Staff

Feb. 22 issue (Canada Reads shortlist)

Winner-" 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."

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k
KristineLeger
Sep 24, 2018

I am not usually drawn to stories about animals, and was especially reluctant to read this as I hated the last dog book I read (Art of Racing in the Rain). A friend recommended it for its philosophical elements so I took the chance and ended up loving it. I really admire authors who can convey an idea of what it might be like to view the world from a particular animal’s point of view, and Alexis does so very well. The dogs come across as very unique characters, relatable but still very doggish -not just humans trapped in dog bodies. I enjoyed the philosophical aspects of the book as well...and of course Greek Gods are always fun to keep things moving along.

Some parts moved me to tears and others made me laugh out loud. It’s a wonderful book, but as another comentator noted, may be a bit intense if you are a soft-hearted dog lover as some parts are very violent.

s
sharon711
Aug 09, 2018

The book is a treatise on what make humanity different from other animals, namely, it asks: what defines humanity? To do this, the author looks at people and their relationships through the eyes of dogs that have been given the gift of human speech.

With this device, the author can deal with issues like mortality, death, time, dominance, master and servant (servitude), status, and the most important question of all, what is the nature of love?

I think dogs were chosen for this task because many people feel a strong connection to their dogs. The author uses these emotions to explore the things that define man and beast. “There were a thousand questions [the dog known as] Majnoun would have liked to ask. Are dogs greater than humans? Which beings are smartest? Why is there death? What is the purpose of life?”

If you like philosophizing, you might like this book. If you love dogs, you might find the story too brutal. There is no doubt that this book will make you think.

m
MrsKayStephen
May 27, 2018

Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis a commentary on the meaning of the human condition. It explores the interpretation of conscientiousness and the significance of happiness. The author's big question is, “Can one die happy?”

n
NRV120
Jan 17, 2018

I enjoyed the book. If you allow yourself to be taken on the journey, interesting questions arise. Yes it is similar to Animal Farm but it is different, in that explores the relationship between humans, an animal we interact with frequently (dogs) and our environment.

d
dirtbag1
Sep 30, 2017

I was hoping this wasn't going to be another 'Animal Farm' and it wasn't. An interesting read to be sure that can be taken at face value or make of it what you will. Probably won't rush out to read more of this authors work.

Nicr Sep 30, 2017

Suppose Apollo and Hermes chose to wager on whether granting human intelligence to dogs would result in their being as unhappy as humans, and proceeded to do just that to fifteen kennel dogs. What follows is a dark fable about power and reactionary politics, a well-written immersion into the sentience of dogs and a meditation on language and knowledge. Suprisingly violent. In fact, it could have more helpfully (and thus avoidably) been titled The Awful Deaths of Fifteen Dogs.

i
imaryg
Aug 30, 2017

I did read it and it certainly kept my attention. From a NON dog person's point of view I learned a lot about dog behaviours that I was not too aware of and don't understand.
Now I know why I'm instinctively reticent about touching dogs.
The whole premise of the story is interesting, dogs being given human thought and judgement. It has humour and irony in it. Almost all the dogs are killed off in some very bizzare ways. Development of their human personalities failed in most the cases because they died off quickly. I felt that the wrong dogs became protagonists or remained alive.

JordanPedersen Aug 14, 2017

I have mixed feelings over Fifteen Dogs. On one hand, it's a novel idea, and compelled me to read on, even as many characters abruptly died and I was left with no one character to really "root for". On the other, it felt unfocused as it blended poetry, mythology, and sporadic philosophical questions that were as quickly dropped as they were introduced.
Worth a read to be able to contribute to the literary discussion around it, because it is also a quick read, but not worth agonizing over if you can't get past the first chapter.

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
Aug 10, 2017

Fifteen Dogs is an apologue that throws light upon human intelligence in a unique way. Through the eyes of dogs, all human traits and habits take on a new colour. As the main characters of the story (the dogs) possess both animal instincts and the human ability to think, they are in constant conflict with themselves and others. While some try to hold onto the past, others try to adapt to new ways of life and find joy in them. No matter what they choose, there remains a struggle for dominance and survival. The story is told effectively through third person point of view; the narrative switches focus from the life of one character to another, each one as interesting as the previous. Fifteen Dogs absorbs the reader’s interest by providing enlightenment on the very aspects of humanity that separate humans from other beings. Undeniably worth reading.
- @VirtueofReading of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

Having to learn English as a Second Language in Canada I related to the story of dogs learning to communicate with humans. Being a dog lover I found the concept of dogs developing human intelligence very enjoyable and wildly original.
- Iwona

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AlieGrace
Apr 09, 2018

AlieGrace thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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trevordunfordswife
Jul 27, 2016

trevordunfordswife thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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s
shayshortt
Apr 01, 2017

In a Toronto tavern, the gods Apollo and Hermes strike a bet. When Hermes wonders what it would be like if animals had human intelligence, his brother Apollo wagers a year’s servitude that the animals—any animals Hermes would like—would be unhappier than humans if given human intelligence. The wager is struck, and fifteen dogs in a nearby animal shelter suddenly gain human consciousness—all while still in possession of their canine urges and instincts. As they develop a new language to convey their transformed understanding of the world, the pack becomes divided between those who embrace the new way of thinking and communicating, and those who wish to resist change at all costs. The gods watch—and occasionally interfere—as the dogs try to navigate this abrupt transition. But will any of them die happy?

m
mrizvi
Mar 14, 2016

what a boring and predictable book. I read it based on the comments but it was very predictable. The dogs were granted special power based on a wager between two gods. They dont get along. one dog wants to be the leader, kills a no of dogs and so on

What a waste

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shayshortt
Apr 01, 2017

Perfect understanding between beings is no guarantor of happiness. To perfectly understand another’s madness, for instance, is to be mad oneself. The veil that separates earthly beings is, at times, a tragic barrier, but it is also, at times, a great kindness.

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