by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten
Doglands, by Tim Willocks
NYC, Random House, September 2011, hardcover $16.99 (308 [+1] pages), Kindle $9.99.
This has been published by Random House Children’s Books, but packaged to look like an adult title. Most reviews (non-furry) have compared it to London’s The Call of the Wild crossed with Adams’ Watership Down. The dogs in it talk to each other, which qualifies it for reviewing here.
“Once upon a time in the Doglands, a blue greyhound gave birth to four pups in a prison camp that the dogs called Dedbone’s Hole. The blue greyhound’s name was Keeva and she named her firstborn Furgul, which in dog tongue means ‘the brave.’ Keeva loved Furgul from the moment she saw him, but as she licked his newborn body clean and gave him her milk to drink, her heart was filled with fear. Furgul had been born with a terrible secret. And she knew that when the masters discovered his secret, they would take him away.” (p. 3)
Furgul is born into a puppy farm, specifically a greyhound breeding farm whose purpose is to produce as many greyhounds for dog racing as possible:
“When the pups no longer needed Keeva’s milk, they joined the other hounds in the exercise yard and Furgul got a better look at Dedbone’s Hole. A lot of greyhounds lived here, in a compound surrounded by a high wire fence. Outside the fence he saw a junkyard and some shacks. Inside the compound the greyhounds were locked in crates – one crate each, where each hound lived all alone – which were even smaller than the whelping cage that Furgul lived in. For just one hour a day the hounds were released from the crates to feed and exercise. The masters made sure there was never enough food for all the hounds, and so the hounds had to fight one another, snarling and biting at the filthy troughs of grub to get enough to eat. The older dogs said the masters starved the dogs on purpose to make them compete, so they could find out who was weak and who was strong and who might make a good racer. They did it to teach them that it was stupid to make friends. They did it because they were bullies who thought it was fun to feel so powerful.” (pgs. 4-5)