Your Robot Dog Will Die

Image of Your Robot Dog Will Die
Release Date: 
April 17, 2018
Soho Teen
Reviewed by: 

“a different kind of story of a girl and her dog.”

“About twenty-five years ago, some scientists thought it would be a smart idea to tinker with dogs’ genes. They thought making a couple of tweaks to the DNA would make dogs even more useful than they already were. The dogs they experimented on got angry and vicious and lost the qualities making dogs our best companions for the preceding 50,000 years. They stopped wagging their tails and wanting to be with us. Instead, they wanted to kill us.”

That’s the situation, as told by 17-year-old Nano Miller, a resident of Dog Island, where Dorothy Blodgett had set up a haven for the last living dogs.

“Dorothy found what she considered the only humane solution. She would have the dogs killed to save them and she would have to convince the public and lawmakers to let her and to enforce a mandate preventing citizens from owning dogs.”

Dorothy succeeds with the help of her lover, Marky Barky, millionaire and former actor, who owns Mechanical Tail, a company creating robot dogs to replace the real ones.

The residents of Dog Island tend the few remaining dog and get to “test” the newest mechanical ones. This is the part Nano hates because she forms attachments to the non-living replicas and when they are reclaimed by the company and “killed” by deactivation, she mourns them as much as she would a real one.

Nano lives with her mother and father who were early converts to Dorothy’s plan. Her brother Billy used to be there also before he became part of WAG (We Are Guardians), the group appointed by Dorothy to find and rescue abused animals, and then kill them “to give them peace, to end their suffering.” When Billy disappears, no one knows where he went or why.

There are now only three children on the island, Nano and her friends Wolf and Jack because Dorothy has a rule: Nothing on the island must reproduce. No humans are born, but sometimes there’s a litter of puppies that are quickly dispatched. No one eats meat either, because that’s another way of being cruel to animals.

Occasionally, Nano helps feed the dogs. Dressed in a dog suit because the canines will attach a recognizable human, she discovers a litter of four pups and a shock. One of the puppies wags his tail. Dutifully reporting the discovery to her mother, she hides the fourth pup, whom she names Donut, as the others are immediately killed. Thus starts Nano’s journey from Dog Island.

In the process, she’ll meet the Underdog Tailroad, a clandestine organization run by Marky Barky’s rebellious daughter, and reunite with brother Billy who tells her of his conversation to the Tailroad’s cause.

“Do you know what it means to follow protocol?” he asks, explaining his former role with WAG. “It means I killed the survivors. One by one.”

“You relieved their suffering,” I say. We prevent suffering. That’s what we do. We are one with the Universe. We go in peace and love.

“These animal had been tortured but survived. They wanted to live. Then I come along to rescue them. But that means death. That was my job. To make sure no animals suffered. By killing them.”

At the Tailroad, Nano sees rescued animals and how happy they are, even if they’re disabled. She sees that Donut and the others would have a chance of becoming man’s best friend again. Nevertheless, she hesitates to join them. Then she learns something that convinces her to take that last step.

Dorothy has a Will . . .

“Any and all dogs should be released from suffering. Any Dog Islander is encouraged to take this same option.”

This story will raise the hackles of any reader who’s a pet lover. It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to see the parallels between Dorothy Blodgett’s Dog Island and the cults of recent and current times. Dorothy’s mantra of “kill them to end their suffering, to give them peace,” is quite easily recognizable as the motive of a serial killer with a religious idée fixe. Like all cult leaders, she’s charismatic and so convincing people accept her teachings without argument, repeating them like prayers learned by rote, never actually listening to or questioning what they mean.

Interspersed with advertisements from Mechanical Tail touting their robotic creations, Nano’s journey toward rebellion is told from her point of view, unfortunately in the irritating present tense, which may detract from the narrative for some readers. There’s not much violence; the coup d’etat is delivered in a couple of sentences, but the outcome is powerful nevertheless.

Your Robot Dog Will Die is a different kind of story of a girl and her dog. It’s one that points up the pithy statement so often used in those Grade “B” horror movies—“There  are some places man is not meant to go.” Though presented in a relatively light-hearted and pseudo-satirical manner, it’s also a story that will give each reader much food for thought.