Dogs are one of the four races in the world of In Sheep's Clothing.
Dogs are the warriors and law enforcers of the realm. Most of them live in the southern forest, but they work all over the land, keeping the peace and serving as the muscle of pig supremacy. Dogs can be seen at the gates of Fleece City, the train station, and scattered throughout the commercial district. A few subsets of dogs appear to be confined to certain areas such as the quarry and the Megatropolis. Dogs are also the basis for the primary force of clones used by the pigs as shock troops.
Most dogs worship Karkus, their patron god, and seek to embody the traits he values most--courage and strength. To this end, dog society holds an annual HoundBlood Tournament, a contest of fighting ability that determines their hierarchy. In canine culture, might makes right.
Pigs won the loyalty of most dogs simply by winning the Canine-Avian War, demonstrating superior military might.
For most of the intervening time span between the end of the War and the start of The Healer, the commander of dogs is General Pincher, a puppet leader kept in power by pigs. The true leader, in the eyes of many, is Boxer, Pincher's second-in-command.
Dogs are referred to by real-life breeds in spite of the fact that they do not live in a human society, one of the series's first indications that this world is not all it appears to be. Dogs can be sorted into several smaller factions based on location and allegiance:
- Most citizen dogs live in the woods and follow Pincher's lead.
- The students of Tooth & Claw Martial Arts are loyal to Boxer.
- A group of dogs live at the quarry and are owned by Scurvert, who starves them to make them more violent toward the sheep.
- A number of bulldogs reside at the Megatropolis, serving as prison guards and answering directly to Guz.
- A pair of Doberman twins are the ceremonial guards of Karkus's shrine.
- Red cloned hounds produced by Chugg Cybernetics are the prime shock troops of the Chugg Corporation and most of them are under the control of Durdge.
Dogs were created by Karkus, designed in his image. Fifty years before the events of ISC: The Healer, they came into conflict with Optera and her birds. The Canine-Avian War was fought over control of the available labor pool of sheep as well as the raw materials discovered in the quarry.
The War became an entrenched battle of supplies, and both sides were weak with fatigue and starvation when pigs appeared. Wielding technology unheard of at the time, such as vehicles, armor, and incendiary weapons, pigs presented a tremendous threat. Dogs and birds joined forces to fight off this common enemy, but they could not withstand this new weaponry. Pigs won the War and conquered all other races. Through this display of dominance, pigs won the loyalty of dogs.
During the final battle of the Canine-Avian War, some dogs bore witness to a mysterious, invulnerable juggernaut pig which passed into dog legend as something of a bogeyman.
Dogs served as enforcers when pigs were drawing new territory lines. In return for their cooperation, dogs were allowed to keep their forest home. They were also allowed to continue worshipping Karkus, but the pigs refused to publicly endorse this. As a result, dogs' worship of their tribal Earth and Fire god was seen as pagan and savage.
Pincher was well paid to feed into this fearful image of his people, as it served the interests of the Chugg Corporation for sheep and birds to be suspicious and prejudiced toward dogs.
In the Books
Dogs are first mentioned in The Healer when Caper receives his invitation to the 242nd annual HoundBlood Tournament from Boxer. Dogs are then seen when a pair of guards inspect Snapper and Old-Timer outside the west gate to Fleece City. These same two guards jump into action minutes later when an unnamed sheep attacks Slog outside the front door of the Chugg National Bank & Trust.
Soon afterward, a television broadcast by Charlie Chugg heralds the implementation of clones for use in Fleece City. Charlie claims that these cloned hounds are conditioned to respond only to the commands of pigs, making them "absolutely safe" for sheep to be around.
Old-Timer encounters the starved quarry dogs, as well as their leader Fowler, later that day during his daily trip. Fowler attempts to warn Old-Timer off, but gets ignored. The dogs there snap orders at Old-Timer, but they let him be rather than face the prospect of having to deal with both him and Shiver.
Those same quarry dogs defend Scurvert's home when Shiver comes to the door looking for Dreamer. The ram is able to break free from the dogs just long enough to break off one of his horns in Scurvert's abdomen.
Boxer appears in person that night during a secret meeting with Old-Timer and Caper. The next chapter follows Boxer's perspective of the events of that day, starting in the shrine where he and Pincher are preparing the rest of the dogs for the upcoming HoundBlood tournament. When Mauler appears, many dogs mistake him for Karkus, and one unwise young pup even attempts to challenge him. Boxer gets control of the escalating situation by restraining Mauler. Pincher then orders the creature imprisoned.
More red cloned hounds participate in the raid on Old-Timer's house, but none of them are a match for him, even in groups. The attacking wave of clones is overseen by Fowler, but he is killed by Old-Timer before he gets the chance to summon more. Boxer then helps Caper rescue Snapper from the burning wreckage.
Snapper touches on the history of dogs, as well as the other races, during his first history class at University. Caper gives him more detail during their private conversation later that day. Caper then takes Snapper to meet Boxer in the underground tunnel.
Boxer tells Snapper the events of the HoundBlood Tournament that had occurred the day of Old-Timer's death. As part of a plot to free Mauler from Pincher's clutches, Boxer had convinced Pincher to allow an exhibition match between Old-Timer and Mauler. When Old-Timer "accidentally" breaks Mauler free, the thousands of spectating dogs give differing reactions. Some try to apprehend Mauler, others just stay out of his way.
The Fleece City guard dogs apprehend Snapper after he attacks Durdge. While in the Megatropolis jail, Snapper encounters Warden Guz and his bulldog prison guards.
Boxer takes Snapper in to offer him martial arts training at his Tooth & Claw gym as an outlet for aggression. While there, Snapper first meets the students, a tight-knit group that answers to Boxer rather than Pincher. The main named students are Ledger, Berger, Tuxer, and a pair of shepherd brothers. During a training session, Boxer explains to Snapper how the pigs keep Pincher in power. He also tells Snapper of the legendary juggernaut pig. In the process, he also confesses to being the one who gave Old-Timer a crippling leg wound during the Canine-Avian War.
Upon reactivation, Durdge brings five hound clones into University with him during his raid. Once they find Mauler in the underground tunnel, Durdge activates a distress signal that summons dozens more. The combined efforts of Snapper, Mauler, Dreamer, and Ponder drive them off, but they manage to capture Boxer and Caper and drag them to the Megatropolis. The Chugg Report the next morning mentions that five clone hounds were killed in the tunnel fight, however the dead are not stated to be clones.
Snapper leads his wayward group to the train station, where they find Berger standing guard. He agrees to help smuggle the group into the quarry as part of their quest to rescue Boxer. He conceals the four of them in old luggage, and two terrier workers throw the bags onto the train.
While the four are conversing with Shiver at the quarry church, the quarry dogs catch Dreamer's scent from their house and track her there. The dogs arrest Shiver and chase the group to the wall, where they are accosted by Scurvert. A quick scheme by Dreamer and Ponder allows the four to escape over the wall and into the woods, where the quarry dogs eventually give up the chase and return to their posts. One quarry dog continues to the village to alert Pincher so that the village dogs can take up the search.
The heroes encounter the Tooth & Claw students, who pose as one of the village hunting parties to escort Mauler to the shrine. The hunting dogs pick up the chase and pursue the group, fighting with Boxer's students, until Mauler is able to get past the Doberman twins and reach the shrine.
Almost all the dogs abandon the chase just to see what Mauler will do once he returns to the shrine of Karkus. Pincher, however, pursues Mauler and engages him in a brutal one-on-one fight. Pincher gets the upper hand and is about to kill Mauler when Snapper intervenes. Mauler manages to cripple Pincher, winning Karkus's respect. All the dogs watch in awe as Karkus speaks directly to Mauler and Snapper.
Snapper uses his newly augmented power to fix Pincher's broken spine. The witnessing dogs all approve of this miracle, and they howl with excitement when Snapper publicly drops his assumed name and returns to his birth name of Healer. They continue to assist Pincher, but they give the group no more trouble and it seems that Mauler has won their loyalty.
Hound clones appear during the standoff with the Megatropolis that forms the climax of The Healer, but they are utterly ineffective due to Mauler's increased power. The prisoner exchange ordered by Charlie Chugg is carried out by the bulldog prison guards.
Boxer is there when Healer awakes from his tranquilizer-induced coma three days later, and he is there to see Healer off when the young sheep storms out of University. Pincher is present in Chugg's office during the final chapter.
The bulldog guards appear again in the opening chapter of The Way of the Ram, using electrified cattle prods to restrain Mauler.
When Healer announces the opening of his clinic, Whole Hogs, he heals the injuries of an old sheep who has been bitten by a quarry dog. This is one of the book's first clues that the Megatropolis is not honoring the bargain struck at the end of The Healer.
Boxer first appears visiting Healer at the clinic, where Healer confides his suspicions about the pigs to Boxer and Caper. The next evening, Boxer and his students welcome Healer and Swifter to a class at Tooth & Claw. Pincher arrives and attempts to reconcile with Boxer, issuing a threat when Boxer refuses. In the intervening year between The Healer and most of The Way of the Ram, Pincher has regained control of his dogs, possibly due to Mauler's arrest and long absence.
A bulldog delivers a vial of Chugg's blood to Swill, which is the catalyst for the only successful Mauler clone the R&D department is able to produce.
Soon after, an unidentified monster attacks the Megatropolis. A swarm of cloned hounds are dispatched from Chugg Cybernetics to arrest it, but the clones are cut down. Guz's bulldogs, like him, are helpless to do anything but watch.
The mental trauma that Dreamer and Healer treat in Whisper, which leads to the discovery of their combined power, is due to an attack by quarry dogs.
More cloned dogs keep the students of University confined to their dormitories when Healer walks through the courtyard to confront Durdge. Before arriving, Healer had instructed Mrs. Flaxer to call Tooth & Claw for reinforcements. During the fight in the underground tunnel, Ledger, Berger, and Tuxer show up on the University side of the tunnel, bearing signs of a dog fight. This indicates they fought through the clones in the courtyard to free the sheep in the dormitories. Boxer and his students block both sides of the tunnel, preventing Durdge from escaping when it becomes clear he is no match for Healer's new ram form. Boxer and the other dogs then offer to clean up the corpses so Healer can take Dreamer and escape from University.
The visions Dreamer obtains from Render's head reveal that Karkus and Optera had schemed together to use Mauler and Ponder to elevate dogs and birds to their former position of controlling the world.
The vision then takes Healer and Dreamer to Scurvert's home. The guard dogs come into the house with Scurvert to investigate the noises Render is making in the basement. But Render uses Ponder's powers of sensory deception to pose as Karkus. The quarry dogs are terrified into fleeing the basement, abandoning Scurvert to deal with Render alone.
During the memory that Swill shares with Healer and Dreamer in the Research & Development laboratory, Render mentions that there are no cloned hounds left alive.
When the village dogs learn of the death of Chugg, they throw a bonfire that night calling for Mauler and crying out for a change in leadership. At the behest of Guz, Pincher gets control of them and rallies them to occupy Fleece City. The quarry and village dogs round up sheep to send them to the Megatropolis sheep farm, under the impression that it is a safe place for sheep.
The dogs keep order while the Hogdogger is destroying Fleece City. They restrict access through the gates, funneling sheep a few at a time down the path toward the Megatropolis. Because of the restriction, many sheep are trapped in the city with the monster. Many dogs witness when Boxer is defeated and killed by Pincher, and then when Pincher is in turn killed by Healer. They are momentarily brought under Healer's control. Healer orders them to let the sheep leave the city through any gate.
At Healer's command, Ledger orders several hundred dogs to invade the Megatropolis and rescue the sheep already taken there. They are joined by groups of birds and sheep, bringing the total that marches on the pig city to over a thousand. When the invaders reach the bunker, they are confronted by Guz's bulldogs, who remain loyal to the pigs even when Ledger tells them that Pincher has been defeated. Ledger leads the other dogs to restrain the bulldogs, allowing the crowd of sheep to barge into the bunker.
As soon as Optera douses the flames engulfing Fleece City, the dogs join everyone else in rescuing the injured sheep still trapped there. Upon the death of the Hogdogger and the conclusion of the immediate crisis, Ledger states that the dogs will give shelter to displaced sheep for the night.
A number of dogs present a problem for Healer during the next few days of rebuilding, trying to take advantage of the power vacuum and challenge him. Healer dodges all of these challenges and enlists the Tooth & Claw students to keep other dogs away from him while he is busy healing the wounded.
All of dog society, whether friend or foe, attends Boxer's funeral at the conclusion of the story. An old beagle that appears to be a priest says a eulogy for Boxer while a dog choir sings a requiem. The Doberman twins light Boxer's funeral pyre, cremating his remains while melting down his silver First Officer's medallion.
Healer steps back from dog leadership and appoints Ledger to lead the dogs in his stead, a solution he hopes everyone can accept. Ledger then makes what peace he can with Mauler on behalf of dogs.
The fate of dogs in The Child Seer remains to be seen.