‘I wrote this book to show what dogs can do’, writes Archimedes the red setter in the preface to his book, and what follows are the experiences, observations, and reflections of a dog both ordinary and extraordinary.
Archimedes’ physical life is constrained by his ‘employment’ with the Guests, an average Sydney suburban family – father, mother, and three children. He is taken for walks – the dog laws make unaccompanied walks too dangerous, he leaves his ‘messages’ in appropriate places, he knows the electricity poles intimately, and the dogs in his territory, Lazy Bill, Princess, Old Sorrowful Eyes, and Victor the bulldog.
But Archimedes has a rich inner life. He understands human speech and has taught himself to read. At the back of his kennel in an old suitcase is a treasured possession, a Book of Knowledge found discarded in the street and carried home with great effort. Archimedes has a thirst for knowledge and experience. He sorrows because his family is so ordinary, and only fourteen-year-old Julie believes in his ability to communicate. He has great ambitions for dog people, and dreams of teaching them to read like himself.