On A Good Robot Dog (or, F1D0 Powers Down)

My robot dog, ten years ago,
Could do amazing things;
She’d bounce around the house, you know,
As if her legs had springs.
She’d hide behind a kitchen chair
(She’d learned this little quirk)
Then bound out, leaping from her lair
When I returned from work.

She’d come to me, and she’d implore
To scratch behind her ears;
Uniquely her—and so much more
Than actuated gears.
Her singular behavior hid
The programming thereof
She loved me—that is what she did…
And I returned her love.

Ten years ago, my robot pup
Seemed safe from Father Time
A robot’s time is never up—
Immortal as a rhyme—
Ten years ago, she melted hearts,
Now hers falls prey to rust
And she’ll return to scraps and parts
And I’ll return to dust.

Remember when your dog died, and broke your heart, and you decided you’d only get another dog when they invented one that couldn’t die, and then you got all excited when genuine robot dogs came around because finally your heart wouldn’t get broken again?

Guess again. As of last year, Sony, who made the robot dogs, no longer repairs them. And parts are running out for the independent rob-vets who do. The linked Newsweek story reports on the funerals of 19 robot dogs who had reached the end of their functional lifetimes.

Now, people can certainly get attached to things, even if they are not dog-shaped. They can act as pets, or as family members (do I repeat myself?). But the Newsweek article makes me wonder one thing, from an ethics standpoint.

What about robot-dog organ donorship? Would you want parts from your dog going to someone else’s? If you repair them, and could cobble together parts from several defunct units to make one that is functional, is that Frankensteinesque? Or more like Christian Barnard? Would you have to get a consent form signed?


  1. says

    When cars get scrapped and pile up high
    In junkyards where spare parts you buy,
    Why not then stockpile gears and cogs
    To extend the life of robot dogs?

  2. lorn says

    Seems to me that there might be a opportunity for someone to find a NOS, new old stock, dog, take it apart, laser scan all the mechanical parts and reverse engineer the electronics and software. With that in hand you buy a 3-D printer and some microprocessors and set yourself up a robot dog vet. Establish a web presence and see what people are willing to pay to have their doggie friends repaired.

    What will a parent do to keep their child happy? Multimillionaire parents might be willing to come off some serious coin to keep their, or their child’s, robotic dog functional. Rare as they might be, people with active consciences could back and fill on prices to accommodate people with fewer resources.

  3. Ross Ashes says

    This is quite an interesting article, does happen to know the price on these things. Perhaps it is easier to just get a whole new one than pay for a new part. Like how one can often pay thousands for a trip to the vet. And lorn, I like the way you think and you bring up an interesting point. 15044018

  4. HelloAll says

    I don’t think I could ever replace my dog with a robot. And why would you, you can’t take away the fluffiness of a dog, even if you try replicate it on a robot – it just doesn’t work like that.

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