“The Gone Dogs”, by Frank Herbert

Here’s an interesting early Herbert story that posits the introduction of a virus that systematically kills the Earth’s entire canine population, not just dogs but wolves, coyotes, etc.  Herbert has been studying up on microbiology and even dabbles a bit in genetic engineering, as the scientist hero, Varley Trent, has to ring up his Vegan buddies (that is, aliens from Vega, not vegetarians) who know a thing or two about the subject and covertly sends them some puppies to see if they can figure out a solution.  Herbert seems to be having some fun with his premise, both in that crude earth-bound genetic tampering just kills off the coyotes rather than rendering them uninterested in killing sheep, that the virus can be transmitted through humans, and that the Vegan solution may save the species but won’t look much like a dog.  He injects the right amount of jargon, the pacing is pretty good and the story is pretty well focused, Herbert is well on his way to bigger things.

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