An engineer dad uses computer technology to give the family dog a voice.
The Singer family’s golden retriever Samson the Second, better known as S2, tends to wander. One day, 7-year-old Ginger proclaims, “Daddy, give him a cell phone so he can call when he is lost!” This seemingly silly idea gets Jim’s creative juices flowing. As an engineer, Jim thinks about what it might be like if he could communicate with S2 remotely, using a small computer attached to the dog’s collar. Singer ponders the idea and it quickly becomes something of an obsession. He uses three weeks of vacation to develop, design and build a prototype of the device. The most compelling aspect of the fanciful tale is the fact that Jim devises a system that not only allows him to talk to S2, but allows S2 to “talk” as well, through movements S2 makes that trigger a voice simulation. During a family meeting, one of the children comes up with a name—TADS (“TAlking Dog System”). The story unfolds, demonstrating the impact TADS has on Jim, the upheaval it causes his family and the manner in which S2 copes with his new status as a canine celebrity. Along the way, the reader learns in small doses about human-canine interaction, how computer technology could some day apply to communicating with animals and the ins and outs of the patent process. While a “talking dog” may stretch the suspension of disbelief, it does add an element to the story that allows for intrigue and bursts of humor. S2 even exhibits a somewhat devious mind. The book has an authentic flavor as Lightstone depicts the trials and tribulations of developing TADS. A nice touch is the closing excerpt from a “speech” given by a VP of the fictional company that launches TADS, making the system seem all the more real.
While the story is light on plot, it is an entertaining, light-hearted tale that reinforces man’s remarkably close relationship with dogs.