My personal library is comprised primarily of classics – books that I feel that I ought to read. Fifteen Dogs, which is outside of my genre of choice, was unexpectedly so profound that I place it squarely in the must-read category.
In this story, human and canine worlds intersect in an intriguing sociological experiment. The concept – a group of dogs granted ‘human intelligence‘ – seems amusing in the beginning with a few laugh-inducing moments as the dogs become aware of this strange gift. The tone quickly becomes serious, however, taking readers on an intensely emotional journey as the dogs grapple with the implications of their human-like qualities. In an incredibly moving narrative, we follow the dogs while they struggle to suppress or adapt to these foreign traits.
Alexis beautifully intertwines human and canine consciousness, touching on the most troubling aspects of their conditions: existentialism, religion, and the inevitability of death. He challenges our views of animal companions through his examination of the dogs’ relationships within the pack and with the people they encounter, doing so brilliantly. Each of the dogs develops a fascinating hybrid personality that results in different responses to this inescapable affliction. As a dog owner, I found myself wiping away tears on many occasions in joining the dogs in their (sometimes brief) travels as they experience the heart-wrenching physical and emotional pain associated with being ‘human‘.
Fifteen Dogs will appeal to dog-loving youth readers (grades 10-12) and adults. They will be, no doubt, touched by the emotionally charged story and reconsider their relationships with their pets. I will be recommending this book to others for a long time to come. It was truly a privilege to read.
Reviewed by Connie Miazga