Lewin, noted for his pixilated parade of unlikely detectives (Family Business, 1995, etc.), forgoes mysteries for the picaresque meanderings and musings of Rover, the Independent Dog. In 37 brief confessions, Rover narrates his adventures on behalf of the canine nation against human oppressors. ``We're not insensate beings! What about some rights here!'' This creed issues from the doomed ``Philosopher'' who's incarcerated with Rover in the pound, and who eventually rescues Rover with advice about the value of temporary degradation--tail thumping, whining--as a tool to attract adoption. Rover is soon again on the road in pursuit of truth, justice, and satisfying dog business. Among his many rescues: a nearly drowned pup whom he drills in essentials--``when rain comes down pups go up!'' (to safe ground), and a canine female dying in a car with closed windows. Rover even rescues the traditionally detested cat, and sometimes a human. But revenge on people who kill or maim dogs is sweet--a jaw-clamp on a backside of a dog kicker comes as a glorious moment. Rover, despite his dogged heroism, also witnesses sad and hurtful canine deaths. Bull sessions are mustered among his fellow wayfarers, and some tricky maneuvers occur with packs: ``A pack with a crazy leader is dangerous.'' Met along the path: Lady, the student of human languages who misses some signals in a parking lot; a three-legged hustler; a dog actress; a female who confesses to previous lives; two ear-splitting carolers; and the great seeress to whom Rover goes for dream interpretation (she is, however, weary of ``primal yelps''). And then there's Love. Rover enjoys a powerful impact on eager females. Opines one, ``[You're] large and strong and roughly handsome . . . and [have] a scent with considerable gravitas.'' A must for the dog-mad, but these cute-free tales are witty and wry enough to reach others with cross-species wisdom.