Clifford D. Simak

Language: English

Publisher: Nelson Doubleday

Published: Aug 15, 1952


The years had moved too fast. Years that had brought the family plane and helicopter, leaving the auto to rust in some forgotten place, the unused roads to fall into disrepair. Years that had virtually wiped out the tilling of the soil with the rise of hydroponics. Years that had brought cheap land with the disappearance of the farm as an economic unit, had sent city people scurrying out into the country where each man, for less than the price of a city lot, might own broad acres. Years that had revolutionized the construction of homes to a point where families simply walked away from their old homes to the new ones that could be bought, custommade, for less than half the price of a prewar structure and could be changed, at small cost, to accommodate need of additional space or just a passing whim. Earth was very different without its cities. There were no more wars, because the population centers which had formerly been prime targets no longer existed. Among the people who left the cities and their descendants, some took to the stars and met beings from other worlds; some took to the woods, and let their primitive lifestyle carry them further and further from the basic design of society. And some simply remained on the land their families originally bought, growing ever more deeply ensconced in those pockets of tradition. It was Bruce Webster, from the pocket known as Webster House, who first changed the dogs. Recognizing that the differences between humans and canines might be an advantage-dogs, with thoir own brand of intelligence, would bo able to comprehend things people could nothe reasoned that two thinking races would have to be better than one. So he surgically altered a few dogs' throats and tongues, enabling them to mimic the words he taught them. Special contact lenses were invented, changing canine eyesight enough to allow them to learn to read. As time went on, the traits Bruce initiated were passed on to each successive generation of dogs. And as th