I was incorrect in my description. It was a world and characters entirely different from the ones I knew, but the main character has the same name. The plot is... "related" is perhaps the best word. The theme is the same and the culminating sequence is remarkably similar given the differences leading up to it.
I strongly recommend Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi. Thus, no spoilers provided at all. I'll be seeking out some of Scalzi's other work.
I also recommend the original, Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper. It was published in 1962, so it may be a little dated, although I think it holds up pretty well.