Soldier Dogs: The Untold Story of America's Canine Heroes
Published on Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 6:01pm
Soldier Dogs by Maria Goodavage (journalist and author of books in the Dog Lover's Companion series) should appeal to readers of war stories as well as dog lovers, civilians who wonder "what is it really like over there" and also returned veterans. Dog trainers who favor positive reinforcement methods will especially enjoy seeing the results the military achieves using these gentler techniques (a war or two ago, harsher methods might have been used, but no more). A dog might get a collar yank, but that's it; mostly, it's all about the reward of praise and getting to chase a ball. I was glad to read about the outstanding medical care the dogs receive, and the efforts to get them over any career-ending injury so they can be adopted out and live some peaceful years in retirement.
You learn about some of the science -- how dogs' noses work, for example, and that their ears have eighteen different muscles -- no wonder they can be so expressive. Also covered: how dogs are "recruited," and what breeds for what sort of work, and the 10 or so different classifications for those duties, from mine detection dog (MDD) to multi-purpose canine (MPC). Cairo, who helped capture Bin Laden, was an MPC, the dogs that work with Special Ops.
Most of the book is stories of the dogs and their handlers, what they helped each other get through, and the resulting bond between them. Goodavage traveled extensively to observe and interview, and her personal observations make for an entertaining as well as informative read.