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How Much Is That Doggy On The Monitor?

How Much Is That Doggy On The Monitor?

EVEN COMPUTERS ARE GOING to the dogs these days. PF.Magic, a computer-game maker in San Francisco, is coming out with Dogz, a program for IBM-compatible PCs and Apple Macintoshes that creates digitally animated pet pooches that act almost like the real thing.

First, you choose one of five different breeds of puppy--Scottie, mastiff, bulldog, Chihuahua, or mutt--and, over the course of 60 days, watch it grow to a full adult. Even while you're running other programs, you can let your dog out of its private window so that it can prowl the screen, sniff at objects, and sleep in a corner. If you like, it will bark at people who try to use your computer without entering the secret password you've set up. And you can teach your new dog old tricks, such as begging for doggy treats or fetching a ball or bone.

If friends are impressed, you're authorized to give them free "puppies"--diskette copies of Dogz that are coded to run for three days before payment is asked for. Once that payment is sent, via phone, the newcomer gets a password that fully activates the new copy.

The $20 program won't reach the stores until mid-October, but PF.Magic says that before then it will open an "adoption center" on the Internet, offering introductory copies at no charge.