Dogworld: Operation Stray Cat, by John Woods – Book Review by Fred Patten
by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Dogworld: Operation Stray Cat, by John Woods. Illustrated by Miro Dimitrov.
Los Angeles, CA, Out of the Woods Publishing, July 2015, trade paperback, $10.99 (358 pages).
This is a military novel with dog and cat soldiers, or Canoids and Feloids, emphasizing the species’ senses:
“Enemy detection in the field was the job of big-nosed bloodhounds, stubby-legged Basset Hounds in a pinch, or even those spastic little beagles the suits in the Capitol somehow deemed fit for military service. Sure, there were better scent hounds in the ranks, and if he really needed one, he’d get one, but what he was looking for in this cornfield even a flat-nosed pug with a head cold should be able to sniff out,” (p. 3)
The setting is a planet with two suns and three moons, where civilization is represented by the Canoids and Feloids. The enormous homids are dumb beasts, only good for their dung for fertilizer.
That’s assuming the Feloids can be considered civilized. Lieutenant Colonel Angus Rex, a Canoid commander (Rottweiler), doubts it.
“As far as the colonel and most of his people were concerned, cats, as Feloids were more commonly called, had no place in modern society. The self-serving and savage Feloids seemed only to exist to foul the land his people toiled to cultivate, more importantly, to civilize. Destiny favored the technologically and intellectually advanced dogs. Everyone knew that. Everyone but the yellow-eyed devil cats themselves and the remnants of their army now gathered somewhere out there beyond the corn.” (p. 4)
The war has been going on for ten years.
“The colonel lowered his binoculars and looked back at his army. A thousand pairs of eyes looked to him and awaited his order to begin the final push of the decade-long fight the country’s newspapers were starting to call The Great Cat War. The Rottie huffed at this exaggeration and wondered if future historians would indeed label a ten-year mission of unapologetic, organized slaughter an actual war when every major battle fought was a near-total rout. Some would argue putting fifty-caliber canon [sic.] fire against simple bow and arrow could not possibly be considered an actual war, but the motive-spinning nose-breathers in charge deemed it a war, so the colonel long ago reasoned what he was doing was just. Besides, he rationalized, his duty was not to argue the political, philosophical, or even moral aspects of the mission; but to simply follow orders and get the job done. And, like most of his people, he was obedient; he would do whatever was necessary to complete the objective.” (pgs. 5-6)
The protagonist of Dogworld is “Corporal Cooper Bigby, a likeable young beagle-sheltie mix” (p. 9). He is in awe of the final battlefield. “Bigby imagined the grand concrete and steel memorial certain to be built, probably exactly where he now stood.” (p. 10)
If Bigby had been a wolf, he would be an omega. As a puppy, when he and his friends played Cats & Dogs, “he always ended up being picked to play one of the Feloids, never a triumphant Canoid. […] Having only been assigned to his first combat unit just days earlier, Bigby had never experienced battle, never fired a single shot in anger, and figured he likely never would. He had qualified at the range, but just barely. The army required proficient marksmanship of all its soldiers, and he had made the cut by the narrowest of margins, but with his small frame and short arms, it was difficult to steady an assault rifle obviously designed for a much larger Canoid.” (pgs. 11-12)