‘What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs’ by Cat Warren

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Rating: 4 stars

Cat Warren knows what she’s talking (or writing) about. In “What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs,” she describes why she began working with her dog, Solo. He was an “unruly” puppy and needed a way to harness his energy in a positive manner.

Warren did her homework and decided that teaching him to be a search dog would suit their needs. For the dog, it’s the ultimate game, and for the handler, it’s very rewarding on a much different level. Warren describes the lengthy training process and how it works.

And she doesn’t pull her punches. Solo sounds like a dog who may indeed have needed a job, but who still remained difficult. During one of their early “jobs” she writes, “He did a final brief tarantella around me, striking the pocket where I’d stashed the toy with his open muzzle. Not a bite. It hurt nonetheless. Brat.”

Warren takes the reader through the minute-to-minute action during a search. It’s hard work. Dirty work.

But the author doesn’t just talk about her experience. She explains the training and science labs. She explains what other trainers and handlers do. The reader will read about animal psychologists, forensic anthropologists, breeders and scent researchers.

It’s all explained in an easy-to-read yet detailed narrative. This is a fascinating book for dog lovers and for those who want to know more about how dogs help us each and every day. The dogs and people who work so hard to help others are all heroes.

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Touchstone, for review purposes.