Fifteen Dogs PDF Free Download

The following version of this book was used to create the guide: Alexis, André. Fifteen Dogs. Coach House Books, 2015.

In André Alexis's apologue, Fifteen Dogs, the Greek gods Hermes and Apollo meet for drinks at the Wheat Sheaf Tavern. Hypothesizing over the possibilities and dangers of human intellect, the god brothers decide to gift 15 caged dogs at a nearby veterinary clinic the gift of human intelligence. They decide to watch the dogs over the coming years, taking bets on whether or not the subjects of their game will die happy or sad.

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Once the dogs realize their altered state of mind, they free themselves from the kennel. The weaker and more emotionally vulnerable dogs, Agatha, Ronaldinho, and Lydia die shortly after. Their human consciousness turns them existential and hopeless. The remaining 12 dogs, Atticus, Majnoun, Athena, Max, Frick, Frack, Rosie, Benjy, Dougie, Bobbie, Bella, and Prince, work together to find a safe home. Eventually they land on a coppice in High Park. However, arguments regarding power and authority soon ensue. Atticus and Majnoun are in particular contention. Meanwhile, Prince discovers his capacity to write poetry, and invent vocabulary and puns. While some of the dogs take pleasure in his wordplay, many others do not. So Atticus, greedy for power and order, devises a plan to cleanse the pack. He swiftly organizes the ejections and murders of Athena, Bella, Bobbie, Prince, and Majnoun.

Though some of his followers succeed in carrying out the murders, Prince escapes with the help of Hermes, and Majnoun manages to survive his attack. The pack leaves him, presuming him dead, bloodied and brutalized in High Park. Not long later, a couple, Miguel and Nira, discover Majnoun and adopt him as their own. They help him heal, and Nira names him Lord Jim. As Majnoun recovers, he grows more comfortable around the couple, particularly Nira. He even begins learning their language. So he is shocked and confused when he responds to Nira's questions in English and she faints. Alarmed and disturbed, Nira sends Majnoun to a hospital and has him drugged. She later apologizes and the two reach a deep understanding.

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With time, they devise a mode of communication based on silences and gestures. They begin discussing philosophical and emotional topics, taking long walks, and spending all their time together. Their closeness, however, begins compromising Nira and Miguel's relationship. Matters worsen when Benjy joins the family. Initially his presence is innocuous. He spends time to tell Majnoun about what happened to the pack after Majnoun's departure. Atticus grew increasingly strict and cruel. Eventually he even killed Dougie. Desperate to escape, Benjy led the pack to a poisonous garden of death, where the dogs ate and died. Skeptical of the story, and Benjy's role in the pack's death, Majnoun stops trusting the little dog. He grows increasingly annoyed, as Benjy attempts to manipulate Miguel and turning him against Majnoun. Tired of Benjy's behaviors, Majnoun bites him and Benjy flees.

Having taken pity on Atticus's story, and his brutal end, Zeus decides to intervene. He visits the old leader, and asks him for his dying wish. Atticus explains his remorse for his mistakes, and asks Zeus to punish whomever was responsible for killing his pack. Zeus devises a plan to lead Benjy to Prince, which ultimately leads to Benjy's demise.

Once Benjy and Prince are reunited, Benjy is only interested in using Prince for his skills and relationships. When Prince introduces him to his human friends Clare and Randy, Benjy rudely inserts himself, cutting Prince out of the circle. He is so consumed by arrogance and greed, he is convinced his intellect grants him the power and right to manipulate and control whomever he likes. His time at Clare and Randy's grows volatile when he begins abusing their generosity and space. Ultimately they abandon him inside the house alone. Realizing they are not returning, Benjy is returned to his basest desires. He eats rodent poison and dies.

Meanwhile, Majnoun decides to leave Nira, fearing he has become too great a wedge between her and Miguel. However, as soon as he leaves, Hermes intercedes, insisting Majnoun and Nira cannot live apart. Once Majnoun returns, he and Nira realize Hermes has gifted them with the ability to understand every nuance of language and communication between them. Their relationship becomes even deeper. Yet both are simultaneously opened to even greater levels of emotional vulnerability.

One weekend Miguel and Nira fail to return from a trip. Majnoun grows worried. Miguel's family arrives, indicating something terrible has happened. Refusing to believe Nira is gone, Majnoun begins a vigil for years outside the house, waiting for her return. Hermes finally visits him, and helps him make peace with their relationship, and with Majnoun's entrance into the afterlife.

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Prince is then the last remaining member of the original 15. He lives a relatively happy life, easily contented by his poetry and his explorations. His only sorrow is that he does not have anyone with whom to share his artistic pleasures. After Hermes and Apollo have another dispute, Apollo grows angry with his brother, and unleashes his rage on Prince. Prince is then rendered blind and deaf. Despite these afflictions, Prince figures out how to pass his poems to his final human companion, and dies happy knowing his art has not been lost.

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Apollo and Hermes return to the tavern to discuss the dogs' many and varying fates. They decide happiness is relative, and it is not dependent on intelligence. Apollo returns to Olympus, and Hermes remains on earth, musing over the divisions and connections between immortal and mortal beings.