… the dogs and people who work together in search and rescue? In Scent of the Missing, Susannah Charleson describes her experiences working with Puzzle, a Golden Retriever she trained to do search and rescue. In addition to talking about the difficult process of training a very intelligent but strong-willed dog, she gives examples of several searches in which they participated, some successful and some not.
Although Susannah Charleson had raised and trained dogs for other work before getting Puzzle, she learned that both the dog and the training had special challenges. The process of training a dog to search for missing people is intellectually, emotionally, and physically challenging for both humans and dogs. People may go missing through mistakes, as victims of crimes, or due to disasters. The area that needs to be searched may be dangerous or difficult to get through. Also, each dog has a different personality and skills, so search-and-rescue dogs may have specialties such as working in urban areas or on water.
Humans need to learn to work closely with their canine partners to recognize the often-subtle cues that a dog has found something or is getting frustrated. Both humans and dogs can become frustrated and even depressed after searching for long hours without success, and the owners need to find ways to combat burn-out in themselves and their dogs.
This is a great book for dog-lovers, as well as for those interested in true crimes or disaster recovery.
Reviewed by Fran (staff)