By Lisa Rogak
Thomas Dunne Books, $14.99, 273 pages
To consider dogs as merely pets – fetching balls and newspapers and looking cute on the sofa – is a gross underestimation of their capabilities. In Dogs of Courage, author Lisa Rogak unveils the not oft-noticed world of working dogs, where beagles sniff out illegal food imports, German shepherds track lost children and collies detect diabetes. Working dogs run the gamut from arson dogs, police dogs and search and rescue dogs to therapy dogs, cancer-detecting dogs and conservation dogs. The book is divided into chapters dealing with each job category and describing the work involved, the personality and skills required of the dogs, the training process and the job’s location, among other details. Real working dogs are profiled, and a picture is often included.
“We are always heartened when we hear stories of Dogs of Courage in the news; they make us feel good in an era of pessimism, amid an overabundance of bad-news headlines.”
The stories of these selfless, hardworking dogs and their handlers are inspiring and uplifting. There are also pages of color photos, which are charming although not always terribly professional-looking. The writing is lackluster but clear and the content is interesting if a little disjointed. Rogak also includes an extensive list of resources and organizations that will help readers get in on the action. The doggy devotion oozing off the pages is contagious!
Reviewed by Andrea Klein