"I suspect that religion is a necessary evil in the childhood of our particular species. And that's one of the interesting things about contact with other intelligences: we could see what role, if any, religion plays in their development."
The canine analogy is useful in several ways in the narrative: it subtly emphasizes the keen sensitivity to odors possessed by the device, and it seems quite natural chasing a car...
The slamhound reminds one of the mechanical hound of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Compare also the OSMO (Osmic Mobile Observers) from Quantico (2007) by Greg Bear. Also, the sheem spider robot from The Witches of Karres (1966) by James Schmitz.
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