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When I was a kid I read a story in a collection or anthology (and I've always had the impression that it was the last story in the book but can't be sure and it's not all that relevant) where dogs were secretly super-intelligent and were actually the benevolent masters and considered humans their pets, allowing the humans to think the reverse. They considered it very important to keep this knowledge secret from the humans. It's an older story, written in the 1960's (maybe early 70's at a stretch) or before.

I had thought it was written by either Ray Bradbury or Isaac Asimov but could find nothing even similar by either them. I've tried for years to turn this story up again, searching loads of collections by various authors and anthologies but have had no luck and trying to search for it on the internet hasn't helped either. I'm hoping someone will recognize it.

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    There’s a story I recall, it’s super short (4-5 pages) where humans finally meet aliens. The aliens greet the shipboard dog as the master. The humans go along with it to not cause offense. Later, the captain is talking with a disheveled human who has begun to receive psychic messages. Think They Live sort of messages “the ruled act best when they don’t know hey are ruled” and such. He realizes the dogs really are the masters. The dog trips and kills him, and the captain wonders if he wasn’t right, but the dog wags his tail left right left and hats how the story ends. Sound similar?
    – Broklynite
    Feb 21, 2018 at 20:31
  • I think I may have read the story, is it where one man describes to another the entire process of making a biscuit?. First people mining to get the power and steel to build tractors, then farming and raising cereals, then harvesting and refining the flour, then baking with (again) mined materials....all a dog has to do at the end is sit up and beg
    – Danny Mc G
    Mar 14, 2023 at 0:59

6 Answers 6

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This sounds extremely similar to the story which was answered here:

Name of a short story with a telepathic man and cats

Note that the original poster of that question acknowledged they had misremembered it as cats being the secret masters, instead of dogs.

The accepted answer for that question was "Into Your Tent I'll Creep" by Eric Frank Russell, which was published in a collection of his work in 1978, as well as having been previously published elsewhere.

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  • @Dragonrider, not the correct answer, then?
    – Otis
    Oct 17, 2015 at 17:53
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Late to the party, and maybe pretty far off, but worth a try - I know the other answer mentioned a question that confused cats for dogs, but maybe this one's confusing dogs for cats? I recently reread William F. Temple's novella "The Smile of the Sphinx" (Worlds Beyond, Vol. 1, No. 1) and it matches up on a lot of points:

  • written in the 1960's or before / in a collection or anthology: this issue of Worlds Beyond was published in 1950

  • (from comments) "real, mind and body" matches.

  • actually superintelligent:

"But the ruling mind of the cats, which was the most powerful intellect in the universe..."

  • considered humans their pets:

"Here they still are - and we are their unconscious servants..."

  • considered it important to keep this knowledge secret from humans:

"They thought it wise, too, to let the knowledge of their existence fade from the mind of man with the decline of the Egyptians. For they foresaw that man's intelligence would grow again, and become a keen, questioning probe and a constant interruption in their work. Only in his ignorance would they have peace."

As far as benevolence, this may be arguable - the cats were involved in destroying the world's supply of explosives to prevent an atomic world war out of self-preservation, but on the other hand their "Ruling Mind" drove a man to suicide near the end of the story.

Anyway, the only major difference from the story as described was dogs versus cats, so it could be worth a look if there's the slightest doubt in your mind that you might be thinking of the wrong animal.

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  • I bet the OP is looking for EFR's dog story, tut +1 for mentioning this fine old yarn. According to the ISFDB it was first published in in the British prozine Tales of Wonder #4 (1938).
    – user14111
    Feb 21, 2018 at 22:49
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Kurt Vonnegut, short story collection Welcome to the Monkey House. The title of the specific story is “Tom Edison’s Shaggy Dog”.

"Tom Edison's Shaggy Dog" by Kurt Vonnegut (1953) is a short story about Edison's accidental discovery that dogs have superhuman intelligence (and can talk) while working on an intelligence analyzer invention. Edison's dog "Sparky" reveals that dogs keep their intelligence a closely guarded secret. The story also divulges that it was Sparky who suggested to Edison the crucial component of the first incandescent light bulb.

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  • Welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy! Please edit your answer instead of adding information in a comment. I've edited it in for you. Also, please describe the story to explain why you think it fits this question -- this will greatly improve your answer.
    – Null
    Aug 27, 2016 at 5:05
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Could this be "In the Doghouse" by Orson Scott Card?

The main theme is that dogs are actually super-intelligent aliens.

An entire species of aliens fleeing from a doomed planet sends an agent ahead to the planet Earth to prepare the way for the arrival of their minds, the only part of themselves they have been able to preserve. Since killing another sentient species is against their moral code, their agent decides that the most common and widely beloved non-sentient species on the planet, dogs, are to serve as the new vessels for his fellow aliens' minds. This he arranges for them by designing and selling a small solar power plant—disguised as a doghouse—that produces enough energy to serve the needs of an entire household with plenty to spare. This product is wildly successful, and soon there are more than enough doghouses with dogs in them to accommodate his people.

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  • This is 1978 so wrong on timescale, btw.
    – Valorum
    Jun 13, 2015 at 21:47
  • Thanks for responding so quickly! Yeah, I think 1978 is later than this story was written and the dogs in the story I'm looking for are real dogs, mind & body, and (after looking up more info on 'In The Doghouse'), unlike the Doghouse alien/dogs they don't want humans to be aware of their intelligence. Jun 13, 2015 at 22:01
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There was a story about this called "Into Your Tent I'll Creep." Aliens visit Earth and are genuinely friendly. One develops telepathic powers (unique for its species) and begins to hear the thoughts of dogs who are secretly ruling humans. It tries to warn its people and Earth but a dog trips it and it dies. The story ends with the aliens returning to their planet . . . with some dogs that humans gave them as a gift.

I believe the author was Eric Frank Russell.

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If @Broklynite is rememembering the same story as the original questioner, then the story in question is "Dog Star" by Mack Reynolds. In it, the first humans to contact a superior alien race happen to bring along one of the last dogs in existence (dogs being out of fashion) for the encounter. The aliens are canine in form, with a pet octopus, and assume that the humans are pets of the dog. Since communication is telepathic however, the humans manage to go along with the gag, and (once back in the ship) they note that humans will have to breed enough dogs to accompany all encounters with the aliens - at which point, the dog begins to wag its tail happily, indicating that it has been intelligent all along.

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