How much is that doggie in the blender?
A Brief History Of Fido’s War
by Michael R. Warren
One of the earliest successful applications of nano technology was in the devices known as Smart Collars, which included a nano-camera, a radio transmitter, a GPS locator, and a software mapping program. A pet equipped with a Smart Collar could be tracked on a computer map or, by simply checking a monitor that displayed the nano-cam’s view, his or her whereabouts at any given time could be confirmed visually: Tabby is up a tree right now; Fido is watering the neighbor’s flowerbed. Then, inspired after his toy poodle was consumed by a neighbor’s Pit Bull, a college dropout named Irv Mettleson opened a small company in Oregon, ProTek, Inc., and began marketing pet collars that enhanced the smart-collar concept by adding a sophisticated protection system that was intended to make the streets safer for smaller pets.
The ProTek, Inc. Pet Harness (R), powered by Su-con (super-conductive) Long-Life batteries, contained nano-cams that fed into target recognition/profile software (adapted from military software) that controlled a low-power laser attached to the rig. Thus equipped, the smaller pet had parity with larger, aggressive animals. When a tabby with a ProTek (R) harness encountered, say, a German Shepherd, which approached within a safety range of fifty feet, the target profile was identified and the laser on the collar would begin tracking the potential aggressor; if the target came inside the "offense zone," of twenty-feet, the laser would fire at the intruder’s hind quarters, giving it the necessary incentive to stay outside the offense perimeter.
Within twenty months after ProTek (R) harnesses hit the market, and after two million ProTek (R) products and a couple of million more imported Mexican knock-offs had been sold, the lawsuits began proliferating. The problem was the technical capabilities of modern youth: the power of the laser could be upped to near lethal levels by almost any ten-year old with a little techno savvy; as well, the autonomous collars could be easily rigged for radio control at long distance; additionally, customized target profiles and "free fire" capabilities could be substituted for the original guidance programming; hence, armed cats and dogs became the source of a reign of terror in many neighborhoods as industrious children (and in many cases bored or sociopathic adults), sat at their monitors following Tabby or Fido as they made their way around the neighborhood, controlling the lasers and leaving a wake of dead birds and roasted squirrels; soon bored by local fauna, targets started including neighborhood bullies, older neighbors who were perceived as crotchety, and the occasional mailman–all of whom suffered laser burns on their buttocks or elsewhere.
Though the authorities tried to curtail the mischief through legislation that restricted sales of ProTek (R) devices to minors, and levied fines on those found guilty of infractions, their efforts were tepid; no one was serious about eradicating the problem totally (many local municipalities considered the fines from illegal laser use a lucrative source of revenue). Things escalated quickly. Neighborhood gaming clubs were formed pitting pets against pets, with the goal being territorial dominance, and for nearly four years, Fido’s War *, or the Pet Wars, went on.
(* Though felines were frequently used for mischief in the Pet Wars, it was most often called Fido’s War because of the dominance of canines. Cats, by nature harder to motivate to purposes outside their own interest, tended to hide and sulk for long periods after being zapped by even modest laser fire.)
Neighborhood disputes and grudges of long standing could now be settled by shootouts between pets. High noon in the cul-de-sac was an idea that was all but irresistible. During this period it was a common sight to encounter howling dogs racing the streets and zapping each other while their owners sat in the comfort of their homes delightedly following the action on a monitor and triggering the lasers.
The benefits of Fido’s War were minimal, but were noted to be twofold: 1) As replacement pets were frequently needed, animal shelters experienced record highs in pet adoptions, and 2) veterinarians garnered a wealth of otherwise inaccessible information about how to treat a wide variety of burns. (Humane Society, Newsletter VII, 2010)
In spite of this cheery assessment by the Humane Society, the issue finally came to a head in 2012, when, exasperated by inaction at the state and local level, President Xavier issued his famous executive order--which afterwards came to be called the "scorched fur" policy--that empowered federal officials to take extraordinary steps to quell the problem. His solution was seen as genius by his political cohorts and madness, naturally, by the opposition party. This was, of course, the establishment of the Federal Canine Corp. Once trained, these converted police dogs, and trained pound dogs, armed with powerful, long-range lasers, began to prowl infested neighborhoods extinguishing armed pets on sight. ("Smoked Fur: How We Won Fido’s War And Took Back Our Neighborhoods", Appel, Murray, Y.,Yancy Picturebook Publications, 2014). By mid summer of 2013, Fido’s War began winding down.
(N.B.: In a win-win situation for defense lawyers, most of the civil suits pertaining to damages re Fido’s War, A.K.A./Pet Wars, were dropped after a Supreme Court ruling on a class action suit, wherein most of the youth involved were found not criminally culpable because they were diagnosed with one or more of the following: ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) , PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), BD (Behavior Disorder), ARD (Authority Reaction Disorder), EDD (Environmental Distress Disorder) or PCSDD, (Peer Compunction Social Dysfunction Disorder). Conversely, those youth who were symptom free of these disorders due to being medicated, were not held responsible because the presence of medication in their systems negated their responsibility for their actions. Source: "Analysis of Pivotal Supreme Court Rulings": 2014, Johnson, Maxwell, & Begley, Mylar Independent Legal Publications, 2015.)
Unfortunately President Xavier didn’t live to reap the political rewards of his successful policy due to his assassination by an enraged PETA activist: Because of the hastily written target profile software employed by the Federal Canine Corp, their lasers would "smoke" almost any four legged creature it came across--regardless of whether or not the target wore a ProTek (R) style harness. The responsibility for this technical laxity, rightly or wrongly, was ascribed to President Xavier. Ironically, after Xavier’s demise, the minority party, with the tacit complicity of the press, successfully managed to take credit for the Scorched Fur policy, paving the way for Senator McBain’s later successful run for the White House.
But this event was only the penultimate act in the tale of Fido’s War.
Acting in response to an onslaught of bad publicity, ProTek, Inc. came up with some sophisticated innovations. The first was a system housing that could not be broken into and modified to operate by remote control. The second was a software profiling system that automatically responded not to the vicinity of a threat but to an actual attack. The system was designed to respond automatically to audio cues–such as the painful yowl of a cat.
Mrs. Gladis Handy, a retired school teacher from Pittsburgh, in a well-meaning gesture, equipped her thirty-plus cats with the new ProTek & Defend (R) harnesses. Authorities aren’t sure exactly what set off the melee; the best hypothesis is that Mrs. Handy stepped on an ill-placed cat tail (of which it is presumed there was a surfeit in her small abode), and once the first shot was fired at her in automatic response, she careened about, upsetting the other finicky felines and activating their automatic defense systems–which subsequently roasted her alive.
Her estate, on behalf of her designated heirs--the felines who survived the suicidal cat-fight that ensued after her death--reached a lucrative financial settlement with ProTek, Inc.
Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Fido’s War reached a crisis point when Maxwell Shubaker, an animal-shelter worker in Pasadena, California who had significant mental issues, appeared on the scene. Mr. Shubaker, who had a long-standing grudge against the water department over fluoridation, had quietly begun equipping and training an army of mixed-breed dogs for over a year. When he deemed his loyal canine army ready, he marched to city hall and, using skills acquired from reading a biography of Napoleon Bonaparte, took it over, holding the mayor and city council members hostage for a ransom of ten-million dollars.
Since the Federal Canine Force had disbanded, and since the governor of California didn’t want to be saddled with the political onus of risking human troops against dogs (it was an election year, making any decision difficult–-particularly this one, since demographic polls showed that, across the board, voters were nine to one against death by dogs-wielding-lasers), things remained at an impasse for three days.
At this point, well-meaning Berkeley pet psychic, Diane Wessingbuam, stepped into the fray and proposed the first solution: that an army of ‘volunteered’ cats be fitted with ProTek (R) harnesses and released on the perimeter of the occupied zone, two blocks from city hall; it was her supposition that "the cats’ innate survival skills and natural enmity for canine-entities," combined with psychic instructions from her, would prove superior in battle; however, immediately upon release, the cat army, apparently unaware of, or in disobedience to, their psychic instructions, scattered to the four winds like lawn chairs in a hurricane--eventually returning to their homes by circuitous routes, as cats will do.
After the great-cat-fiasco, as it came to be known, panic set in, prompting the local business community to offer a reward of one million dollars to anyone who could free the city government without risking human life.
Amilleo Perez, a part-time lawn maintenance worker and amateur dog breeder, volunteered to take on Shubaker’s army with his own cadre of armed canines. His Chihuahuas, which presented small targets, were equipped with laser-deflecting mirror-armor. Due to their stout legs and strong backs they were able to carry larger lasers that were sufficiently powerful to take on the Shubaker army. Size, the diminutive Perez argued, didn’t matter; largeness, in fact, was a drawback. Pound for pound, he maintained, his Chihuahuas were as aggressive as any animal on earth.
Perez’s Chihuahuas’ greater mobility and aggression carried the day. After an intense six-hour battle–the longest battle in Fido’s war--Shubaker’s army broke and scattered in terror before the Chihuahuas, and Shubaker was removed from City Hall.
On behalf of its grateful citizens, the City of Pasadena honored Mr. Perez with a certificate of appreciation, shortly before informing him that–-as an undocumented worker–-he was ineligible for the reward, and then deporting him to Mexico.
Outraged, but undaunted by this setback, Mr. Perez returned to his native Roho, Mexico, where he received a contract to have his Chihuahua army replace the city’s inefficient and notoriously corrupt police force.
For those who suffered in the war, hearing the nearby howl of a dog at night or the patter of cat paws across a floor is still enough to make them scramble for cover and cower in terror. Yet, today--save for stragglers and strays, who, with their Su-Con powered back packs, continue to present an appreciable menace to public safety in some places--most presume that Fido’s War is over. Others, having succumbed to paranoia, note that Amilleo Perez--now retired from police work and still nursing a grudge against the ungrateful gringos of El Norte--has opened a kennel just across the Texas border, and fear that there is a growing mass of armed and aggressive Chihuahuas whose stubby legs and stout backs contain the means of waging ruthless war, and that Mr. Perez and his army wait patiently to take their revenge on all the big dogs of the world.
I got a Beagle. He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so I kinda wonder how he’d do in Fido’s War. I get the feeling he’d fry himself in the first five minutes and I’d wind up with a hot dog. (No. Please. It’s been a long month.) Comments, please to our BBS. (About the story—not my pun.)