To Serve Dog

Reads: 517  | Likes: 9  | Shelves: 1  | Comments: 0

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

In a possible near future, the hottest BBQ restaurant in town runs a weekly contest using artificial lab-grown meats. How far should this new technology be pushed? Where are the ethical lines when no animals are harmed?
Come and learn the secret recipe...

Jeremy approached the newly remodeled patio of “Meat and Greet,” one of the few dog-friendly BBQ restaurants in the city. Their snickerdoodle Chewy drank water from a bowl under a high-top set with complimentary dog treats.

“What should I order for you?” Jeremy offered Amy a paper menu with the daily specials, but she waved a hand.

“Surprise me.”


“We had that last week.”


“Too stringy”

Jeremy shot her a look. “Then you pick!”

“We haven’t had ‘Susan’”

Jeremy read the menu out loud, “Two meaty ribs, 3d-printed onto our ceramic rib bone substrate and glazed in our signature house-made barbeque sauce.”

“I still want Scraps,” Jeremy said, “with coleslaw and Texas toast.”

“Then you shall have it, my boring prince,” Amy replied. Jeremy knew Scraps wouldn’t win the weekly contest but liked the supple texture and mild Carolina-style vinegar-mustard sauce.

This Friday, all the regulars were here, seated at similar high-tops. He recognized Scraps’ fur parents, a nice Indian couple. T-Bone, a bulldog, was owned by the sheriff and greatly resembled the sheriff’s wife. Jeremy tipped his hat to the man, who returned the gesture.

If you wanted to order off the specials, you had to bring a DNA sample of your own pet to participate. They would make a batch of lab-grown meat from each animal and put them on the menu. At the end of the week, one lucky pet parent would win the grand prize, a 4oz synthesized Japanese Wagyu steak on the genuine marbled fat substrate made from some of Earth’s few remaining actual cattle.

Jeremy took the swab out of the collection tube and gently ran it along the inside of Chewy’s cheek, collecting the few cells needed for the bioreactor. Chewy didn’t seem to mind, happily returning to his vegan leather chew.

Jeremy’s mouth watered thinking about that steak, but nobody ever ordered Chewy. Maybe it was the name? Still, you can’t win if you don’t enter, right?

A woman with a large skull tattoo and dark glasses, dressed in a black sleeveless top sits in an outdoor restaurant looking bored.

A pale-skinned goth woman Jeremy hadn’t seen before sat at a table nearby. She was wearing a cat skull necklace and ear gauges and appeared to be over six feet tall. One arm was fully sleeved in tattoos. She wore a black kilt and a fitted plain black sleeveless top. Jeremy thought she sort of looked like a cheerleader for the devil. She was accompanied by a humongous black Irish wolfhound. Jeremy noticed Amy eyeing the animal hungrily; it must be Susan. No wonder the menu said meaty ribs. That dog had to be easily 120 pounds.

It had been a long time since any cats had been in the running. After the first couple weeks of the contest, whenever somebody tried to bring one within a hundred feet of the building they would yowl and scratch in the parking lot. It killed the vibe, and most cat owners had given up. No big loss. He’d tried it once, and it tasted terrible.

Dogs were loyal. They’d stick by you. Plus, nothing would go to waste. A chili made from all the unsold synth meat would be distributed in take-home doggy bags to everybody who stayed through the winning announcements. It was a good old time. Too bad the chili would mostly be Chewy, but c’est la vie.

Jeremy’s Scraps with Texas toast was unchallenging as usual. Amy seemed unable to get enough of the Susan ribs, making appreciative sounds as she pulled the synth meat from the reusable ceramic bones with her teeth. She offered Jeremy a taste.

He took the morsel from her fork and sniffed it. The spices in the barbeque sauce with the molasses sweetness masked the aroma, but he could tell this meat was rich. The pale white flesh melted away in his mouth, candy sweet with the slight tang of vinegar and heat from the gochujang. On a previous visit, he’d seen their secret recipe while touring the bioreactors, cooks in stained aprons in stark contrast to their lab tech in her pristine white coat.

He barely had to chew. It tasted like the best pork ribs he’d ever had. How great would that Wagyu steak be if this was on the normal menu?

They finished their meal and gave Chewy a nice belly rub. This week’s winners were about to be announced by Sweeny, the owner of the restaurant.

“We like to run a fair contest here, to be sure,” he said in a showman’s voice, commanding silence from the other patrons.

“But the results this week couldn’t be clearer. I think we all know who won because every single one of you voted for her” Sweeny held out an inviting hand to the audience.

“Susan!” everybody shouted. Jeremy couldn’t believe it. A unanimous vote was unheard of, but even he had voted for the wolfhound. A spark of jealousy overtook him, which he hoped to quell by congratulating the winner.

Jeremy rose from his table and approached the tattooed woman and her gigantic animal. Amy followed him with her eyes but remained seated, paying the bill.

Jeremy squatted down in front of the perfectly calm dog. “May I?” he asked the owner. She nodded, and he reached out to pet the animal, running his fingers gently along the animal’s flank after getting her temperament. A waiter brought the woman’s prize, a small but impeccably marbled steak of the highest grade and quality. Jeremy felt a little bit of drool threaten to escape his mouth. The woman must have noticed, chuckling with a deep rumble.

“Oh Susan, you were delicious,” Jeremy said, gently scratching the wolfhound behind the ears, down at her level.

“Thank you,” the woman said from the table above. A fork appeared before Jeremy with a tiny morsel of her prize steak. “Go ahead. You want this, right? I already have what I need.”

“Are you sure?” Jeremy was already greedily reaching out. He couldn’t help himself. He grabbed the fatty meat in his fingers and popped it in his mouth, expecting it to be the best thing he’d ever tasted, but it wasn’t. That barbeque had been better.

The lady stood, and her hound rose beside her. “What do you say, Baskerville? Should we get going?”

The woman, Susan, tossed the rest of her steak to the wolfhound, who ate it in a single gulp. Behind Jeremy, Amy gasped.


A 3d printer creates an artificial steak using meat filament and a fat substructure.

Author’s Note (Contains Spoilers…)




You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension…

You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You just crossed over into… well I wish I was Rod Serling but you’re having a vowel movement. The Twilight Zone never would have aired this. Black Mirror might. Love + Death + Robots probably would. Suffice to say, this was a cautionary tale of a world yet to be.

I genuinely hope you enjoyed this short story. My intent as a dog-lover is to point out a possible misuse of new technology before it becomes a problem. So I would pose to you a few questions…

Did you perceive the woman in black as a protestor or a participant?

Were you disgusted before the final twist?

What do you think the ethical problem is here, if no animals are harmed and consenting adults are having a good time?

I’ll wait…




I do not know your answers, but I would be delighted to hear them. I can only offer my own thoughts on it, as a fellow reader of the narrative that has manifested.

This story started as a dream. Not a nightmare exactly, but not not one either. The dream version had… rougher edges. It lingered. It itched. It had to be written out to be laid to rest.

As the author, my intention with the woman in black was to have her give of her own flesh to show how the eaters were breaking a taboo. The patrons at the restaurant had been mistreating their animals without harming them. She was there to disrupt the operation, to finally trigger disgust among people who were desecrating their own family. To show them the position of the dog.

The cats were wise. This is the clue, and this is why her necklace is a cat skull. She was summoned by the cats.

This is also why she does not eat. She does not take the prize, she tosses it away. Gives it as a treat to the pitiful human, and a meal to her hell hound. Distractions precious and rare have no worth to a person with a message to deliver.

As other readers have pointed out, there is another conclusion. That she has some sort of desire to make people cannibals, some sort of fetish. I do not disagree with this interpretation, but it is not mine.

So until next time… stand and deliver or the devil he may take you.

Author’s Note II:

I originally posted this to my SubStack at . I'm exploring new ways to find readers, and this is my first post here on Booksie. Please let me know if I should have done anything differently. Feedback is welcome!



Submitted: July 15, 2023

© Copyright 2023 Nick Tantillo. All rights reserved.

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