Okay I know this sounds like a shitpost but I am completely serious. I think I have some solid points, so bear with me.
Point 1 His Role in the Story
Dogmeat is one of 5 companions that the game makes you even interact with before going to the Institute and choosing a faction (the others being Codsworth, Piper, Nick, and Hancock. 6 if you count Deacon), and one of 2 that it makes you bring along in your party for the main story (Nick). Even if you skipped over Red Rocket and went straight to Diamond City, Nick brings him along to track Kellogg and then he becomes available to recruit from there because you missed him before. The game doesn’t start making you take on companions like that otherwise until you start trying to join factions.
Point 2 His Interactions with Other Characters
Speaking of factions, if you do follow him from the gas station to Concord, he leads you to the de facto leader of the Minutemen, the only faction that’s both capable of building the only way into the Institute and also not actively trying to hunt and destroy them. The fact that the person who builds the Minutemen teleporter is a synth is, I’m sure, pure coincidence. Or maybe it isn’t, considering another synth that he’s apparently worked with before is Nick Valentine.
Both Nick and Mama Murphy tell you how he’s not a dog that you own, he’s a dog who chooses his own companions and sticks by them. It’s never said how long. Maybe he just up and leaves one day once he’s bored or not needed, or maybe he sticks around until there’s nobody to stick around with. Mama Murphy has been shown to be under the influence of some kind of chem more often than not (unless you convince her to get clean) and Nick, as shown in Far Harbor, has gaps and faded bits in his memory, so it’s entirely possible that Dogmeat has been around for a really long time to have this reputation, but neither of them has really noticed just how long and how unusual that is.
Who knows? Maybe it’s all coincidental, but that I somehow doubt because…
Point 3 His High Intelligence
This dog is absurdly smart. His Intelligence score is 8, and it shows. Within the lore of the game, 5 is the average for a normal person, 10 is supposed to be the peak human capability. So this dog is not only smarter than the average human, he’s up there with human geniuses. And it shows. He’s capable of understanding more complex commands than canine companions in previous games (which, okay yeah, can also just be put down to better game programming). If we go back to the faction thing again, the other two people besides Sturges that can decipher the blueprints for the teleporter are Tinker Tom, the Railroad genius, and Proctor Ingram, the Brotherhood Scientist. Ingram has had the benefit of training with one of the best technological forces in the wastelands. Tom has had to adapt and learn as a constant trial by fire in going up against the biggest tech behemoth in the Commonwealth. Sturges is a handyman. But all three manage to successfully build the machine from this:
I’m not saying Sturges was only able to build a highly complex piece of machinery from crayon scribbles because he’s a synth, but compared to the other people you run into, synths tend to be more intelligent. So why wouldn’t synth animals be any different?
Point 4 He’s Not Like Other Dogs
What are the odds of running into a perfect purebred German Shepherd in the wasteland? Like, at all? Looking at all the other kinds of dogs you run into…
…the odds aren’t great. You don’t run across a single other dog that looks like him. Every other one you run across is either a grizzled mystery mutt or a heavily mutated monstrosity. Still all cute in their way, but definitely not Dogmeat. In fact, not even the other Dogmeats look like our Dogmeat. Even as far back as the first Fallout, Dogmeat definitely fell under the mutt category.
Point 5 There is Precedent
He wouldn’t be the first synth animal the Institute has made. We all know about the gorillas, and even though dialog from Deacon about the watchers was removed, everything else about them is still there; documented in the Institute terminals and mentioned by more than one of their scientists. So he wouldn’t be the first synth animal created, he wouldn’t be the first sent to keep an eye on Vault 111,
And he wouldn’t be the first to rebel. It’s like Mama Murphy said, “Dogmeat’s his own man. You can’t own a free spirit like him.” He probably stopped responding to Institute commands and was too much trouble to retrieve, reprogram, or reproduce, so they just left him out on the surface. He’d stick with someone for a while, then go back to check near the Vault to see if the Sole Survivor had come out yet, wait a while, then take off if you weren’t there. Which would explain why a perfect, loyal, purebred German Shepherd was so close by as soon as you get out.
Point 6 It Means He’s Immortal
Due to game mechanics, Dogmeat can’t be killed. At all. And unless they’re programmed to, synths don’t age either. So he won’t die of old age. And look at that face.
You guys. You. Guys. THE UNICORNS announced their reunion today. While the form of the reunion is still unclear, Alden confirmed IT IS HAPPENING. Pigs are flying and birds are made out of bacon or whatever. If you don’t understand the depth of this announcement, do yourself a favor and purchase “Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?”
Here’s Nick Thorburn performing with Islands at Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on Feb 1, 2014 // also the face I made for five solid minutes after hearing the incredible news.