Note: This story was written as a letter to the Repair Department of the company that made this fictional mutt.

ROBO-DOGGIE

Mr. Albert Flanders, President
Computerized Dogs For The Blind and Physically Handicapped
64229 North Highway 77
Speagle, Michigan

Dear Mr Flanders:

I was so pleased to receive the box containing my robo-doggie whom I named Fido. I must admit, I felt a bit uneasy, when I took out the individual sections to assemble them, but the cassette instructions were clear and easy to follow. I laid out the torso first and broke out laughing, when I noticed Fido is anatomically correct. I chose the Bulldog head but I understand some people prefer the Golden Retriever look. The small cameras for eyes, that permit bifocal vision, are absolutely fantastic. So is his ability to pick up sounds, I don't even hear,--just like a real dog, I suppose. I wondered at first why you made a tail for a robot, until I read that it is also the antenna for its radio and television audio systems. The most innovative features of this doggie, in my opinion, are his four eight-legged wheels, used to maneuver up and down stairs, negotiate curbs, and other obstacles, and even back its way out of a small ditch, (which on one occasion we had to do). After I set Fido up with his default command responses, we set out on our first adventure, going to the office, and I felt almost naked leaving my cane behind. This is where I have my first suggestion to make.

The city bus seat visualization memory sets are ineffective. Fido's eyes are so low to the ground, when we got onto the bus, the only empty seat he could recognize was the bench seat at the rear of the bus. Getting off the bus that first day created a minor problem, when he rolled off the last step and ended up on his nose. But no damage done.

I am delighted with the VISUAL SET button on his back, that puts whatever he sees in long-term storage memory. As we walked along the sidewalk to the office building, I simply pushed the VISUAL SET button to make him program himself to remember the way next time. I also did the same thing from TWO OTHER directions, in case I chose to enter the building from the other side, or from a car at the curb.

WHEN WE go FOR LUNCH, he can spot the golden arch two blocks away. I really like his voice selections, and how he speaks them automatically or manually.

Not having to feed Fido, or take him out several times a day to potty is a great advantage for me. I just tell him to move under my desk, AND he stays THERE, UNTIL I activate him again, when we are ready to leave. And having to recharge him only twice a week is great.

That was the good side. Now for the problems: You should have explained a little better how much his camera system can see and not see. The other day, I met a very attractive sounding lady going into my office building, so I pushed the VISUAL AND AUDITORY SET buttons, so Fido would recognize her appearance and voice. I was so happy to think that he could help me track her down AGAIN in the building, I went out and celebrated with my buddy, Tom.

However, since then, Fido makes me follow every female he SEES on the street, the bus, or in the office building, who even vaguely resembled the person in question. One lady threatened to call the police, when Fido accosted her and said out loud with his synthesized voice, "Hi, Baby, my master would like to dogpaddle with you in his hottub."

I had no idea he could come up with such things until I read the section in the manual on "preprogrammed warnings, greetings, and miscellaneous phrases." I think you have built in some overkill.

IN addition, last night I set the GUARD DOG SET command. Then a few minutes later, my friend, Tom, dropped by. When he opened the door and walked in, Fido squirt Pepper Mist all over him, which also got all over me. Tom was not amused, and neither was I. Isn't there some way you can program Fido to tell the difference between friends and intruders? Yeah, I know. I should have remembered to deactivate him.

Alas, yesterday was my DAY FOR big mistakes. When I tried to remove the command, to recognize that lady I was telling you about, I accidentally deprogrammed him of his ability to detect traffic turning corners. I have trouble crossing some intersections, where there are legal left-turns-on-red and right-turns-on-red. Fido had been doing a great job of detecting the turning cars, and warned them away, by sending up clouds of yellow smoke, and waving red flags. But yesterday, he did not function properly, when a big 18-wheeler made a right turn. I made it to the curb okay, but Fido paused for some reason in the street and kept saying out loud, "Wow! Would you look at the size of that damn thing?" and would not respond to the "Come here" command.

I hope you can repair Fido. I have gotten used to having him around, despite the problems. Fido's right leg-wheel, and rear torso, and tail are all smashed up pretty good. Fortunately, the main computer system and front cameras were apparently spared. Since this unexpected disaster has occurred, I have been thinking, that even though he is under warranty and will be repaired, I wonder if you could build the same sort of functions into a white cane? Instead of walking with it on a harness, I could simply hold it during operation, and stick it in a desk drawer when not in use.

well, it's just a thought. I realize that such innovations are complex and expensive, but if you do, please, please, do not program it to say, "hi, Baby, my master would like to dogpaddle with you in his hot tub."



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