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Trying to identify book about woman who bioengineers giant telepathic wolves that have some kind of alien DNA spliced into them. The woman/scientist also has some wolf DNA spliced into her giving her a wolf's sense of smell. Her colleagues have more advanced adaptations enabling them to full body morph into wolves, the three scientists and three wolves make up a pack and they are on another world performing some kind of test.

The story flashes back to memories of how the lead scientist got to where she is today, remembering her time working for another alien race that called other races "vermin" in their own language and a friend she had of that alien race called her by a nickname that meant "acceptable vermin".

There is also a section of the story following a high ranking male in the political structure of a race of lizard-men. This race starts out very stupid bit individuals gain intelligence and comprehension with age as they loose their blood-lust. A warring race with no real culture, the oldest males rule the geopolitics of the planet with some interference by a bug like race. The females are as witless as cows. But this high-ranking male, while performing a ceremony to claim several new sons to raise from a clutch, decides to dispatch the unworthy offspring himself as an afterthought, and walks in on a technician of some sort lobotomizing the female hatchlings.

Turns out the females are the smart ones and the bug race put this custom in effect to control the lizard men. It hints at a greater story there but never quite circles back, going back to the woman and the wolves and some threat of an ancient alien shapeshifter, i believe called Zaag or Zaar or something like that. Turns out the D.N.A. spliced into the wolves came from that race of aliens and are evil, the charismatic wolf alpha who has scent glands in the roof of his mouth used for "speech" via smell, is this zaarg alien character, perhaps somehow reincarnated or reconstituted from the bioengineered cells?

I cant remember much else. And all of this is through the scientist woman's memories as she waits outside a door to speak to someone, and stops to wash her face at a basin to wash away tears and calm herself. I thought the book was called "Companions" but haven't been able to find it in years. I read it probably 10 years ago from my local library. They no longer have it or know what book it was. I want to reread it as an adult and see if its a good as i remember. It seemed like it would've been the first book in a series. Please help.

marked as duplicate by Mat Cauthon, Blackwood, Ward, Gallifreyan, Rand al'Thor Jun 24 '17 at 10:45

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This is The Companions by Sheri S Tepper.

It's a big long complex book with many interwoven plots. In fact too many for me to remember exactly what happens in it. From a memory refreshing flick through the book the three dogs are Behemoth, Titan and Wolf. It's set in a future Earth where all pets are banned because of the resources they consume and these three dogs have been engineered, though I forget why and by whom.

The shapeshifting aliens are the Zhaar. As I recall the Zhaar looked like dogs and used to live on the planet Mars.

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