Kirsten Bakis’ best selling novel, Lives of the Monster Dogs (1997), captures the final days of a community of highly intelligent, surgically-altered dogs. The dogs have prosthetic hands and voice boxes, walk upright and wear clothes, are able to speak and perform complex actions. They were bred in the Canadian wilderness by nineteenth-century Prussian inventor, Augustus Rank, intended as a race of fiercely loyal soldiers. After Rank dies, the dogs maintain their Prussian dress and manners but abandon the wilderness for New York in 2008. Here, they become instant celebrities, living lives of high culture and decadence until an incurable illness causes most of the dogs to regress to lower intelligence and savagery. One exception is Lydia Petze, a white Samoyed, who is amongst the most civilised and cultured of the Monster Dogs and the key canine heroine of Bakis’ novel.
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