Feb 10, 2011

Scent of the Missing

Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog
by Susannah Charleson

This wonderful book is about a dog handler involved in search-and-rescue work. She began first by flying light aircraft, then later assisting search teams on the ground. The book gives a little background on how she got involved in this intense volunteer work, but mostly chronicles her first year with the search dog she trained and lived with- from first acquiring the puppy through training sessions, practice runs and final certification. I've read a little about search-and-rescue before, but this book really gets into the details of exactly how trying and rewarding it can be. I'm amazed that people do this work all night, often after long drives, tramping over rough terrain, and then get up next morning and go to their normal jobs. Add to that all the hours she had to spend training her dog- although it sounds more like a joy than a chore. And the adorable golden retriever, Puzzle, certainly loved to work! I was amazed not just at how well the dogs could use their noses, but also how subtly they could indicate to their handlers what they had found- no human scent at all, scent but not of the right person, scent of the person but too old, or fresh scent- and each dog communicated this differently. Although they trained for work at disaster sites, in burned or semi-collapsed buildings, most of the stories Charleson shares are of smaller searches through neighborhood streets. For wandering Alzheimer's patients, missing children, drowning victims. Some end happily, with the missing person found quickly, others are left open-ended, the volunteers not knowing if the case was ever solved. It can be a very emotional read. Scent of the Missing is a well-written, intense heart-tugger of a book. I'm really glad I got the chance to read it.

I first added this book to my TBR after reading Caribousmom's review, and then the publisher so kindly sent me a copy to read. Thanks to both of them. I'll probably be holding onto this book for several re-reads. It's that good.    

Rating: 4/5 ........ 288 pages, 2010


bermudaonion said...

Wow! If you want to hold onto it for several re-reads, it must be excellent!

Jeane said...

Yup. That's my criteria: do I want to keep this for a re-read? those get the 4/5's.

Bookfool said...

Oh, I'll definitely look this one up. I dislike open-ended stories (at least let us know if someone never was found!) but it still sounds like a book I'd enjoy. I love anything about SAR. I wondered when I saw the title if Caribousmom had read it. LOL Figures you read about it at her blog. :)

Wendy said...

SO glad you loved this one!!! It made my top reads (nonfiction) for 2010...loved it :) It gives a really great overview of canine SAR!