It's a Dog's Life is a Z-code 5 interactive fiction game and is © 1998 by Mr. WiggleButt.
Review by David Welbourn (originally posted at IFDB)
Here we have a game that's ready for alpha-testing. You're meant to start the game by obtaining a dog via express delivery (think Wile E. Coyote ordering something from Acme) and then wander about the countryside with your new best friend, and earn points by solving small puzzles, getting "Fido" to do doggy tricks, and uh... well that seems to be it.
The game was never finished.
Of course, there are bugs, too. The game was never tested either, at least as far as I can tell, but that seems to be, well, not quite as important as fixing some of the problems with the overall design.
Here's what the game needs most (in my humble opinion, of course):
1) Show, don't tell. The point of the game was lost. It's not really supposed about getting a few lousy points. It's supposed to be showcasing a particular breed of dog, the Australian Cattle Dog. Currently, you get a HUGE textdump of encyclopedic info when you look at your mutt the first time, which no one's going to read, and the dog in the game acts like any generic IF dog. Instead, incorporate that info into the way the dog behaves in the game. And give the dog some body parts so the player can examine the ears, tail, fur, etc. at their own pace. Give it a personality.
2) An endgame. Currently, there's no goal, nothing to strive for. I played for a bit, then quit. That's not a game. Personally, I'd give the PC a snooty neighbour who brags about his own precious puppy. Then add a dog show or some sort of certification challenge so your dog can earn a ribbon or a certificate that you can rub in your neighbour's face — booyah! — and thus win the game.
3) Add some direction and hints. This is so easy to fix. Add a brochure or poster at the training school, listing some of the things you can do with your canine companion. Even better, if the neighbour was added, you could show by example what the player is supposed to do with his or her own dog by watching what the neighbour does with his.
So, yeah. It's a Dog's Life isn't much of a game, but it is useful as a design challenge.