Cat Warren is a university professor and former journalist with an admittedly odd hobby: She and her German shepherd have spent the last seven years searching for the dead. Solo is a cadaver dog. What started as a way to harness Solo’s unruly energy and enthusiasm soon became a calling that introduced Warren to the hidden and fascinating universe of working dogs, their handlers, and their trainers.
Solo has a fine nose and knows how to use it, but he’s only one of many thousands of working dogs all over the United States and beyond. In What the Dog Knows, Warren uses her ongoing work with Solo as a way to explore a captivating field that includes cadaver dogs, drug and bomb-detecting K9s, tracking and apprehension dogs - even dogs who can locate unmarked graves of Civil War soldiers and help find drowning victims more than two hundred feet below the surface of a lake. Working dogs’ abilities may seem magical or mysterious, but Warren shows the multifaceted science, the rigorous training, and the skilled handling that underlie the amazing abilities of dogs who work with their noses.
Warren interviews cognitive psychologists, historians, medical examiners, epidemiologists, and forensic anthropologists, as well as the breeders, trainers, and handlers who work with and rely on these remarkable and adaptable animals daily. Along the way, she discovers story after story that proves the impressive capabilities - as well as the very real limits - of working dogs and their human partners. Clear-eyed and unsentimental, Warren explains why our partnership with dogs is woven into the fabric of society and why we keep finding new uses for their wonderful noses.
©2013 Cat Warren (P)2013 Simon & Schuster
This is probably the best book about dogs that I have read so far, and I have read quite a few. I hesitated with beginning What the Dog Knows probably because I knew that it was about a German Shepherd while my breed of choice is the Belgian Malinois. Casual observers often confuse the two breeds, but they are very, very different in temperament, drive, and even appearance. Most German Shepherds, especially those bred in the United States, appear bulky and slow to me compared to my driven, lithe and agile Malinois. But a respected friend, and owner of a Malinois, strongly recommended this book; I thank her for that.
The author, Cat Warren, is a college professor with exceptional writing skills and a strong need to research her subject thoroughly. The combination made this book intellectually datisfying as well as enjoyable to read. While her main focus is on the training and deployment of her Cadaver dog, Solo, she also describes other working dogs and the trainers she worked with--Military Working Dogs, Search and Rescue dogs, and Law Enforcement canines. She trained with all of them to some extent and provided clear information on where they differ and what they have in common.
I purchased a copy of What the Dog Knows for the trainer who works with us and our dogs on detection. He certainly doesn’t need the information since he has handled and trained working dogs for over 20 years, but he loves dogs and will enjoy this book. At the same time, I also ordered it for our very good friends who presently own, and have owned, a GSD. They love the breed, and think that our Malinois are more than a little crazy and frenetic. It’s the perfect book for them.
It may also be a great read for you...if you love dogs and/or are interested in the world of working dogs and their trainers/handlers. I am so glad I read it myself. Thanks again, Kelsey, for the recommendation!
Author's well told journey of learning to work with her adolescent feisty German Shepherd.
Cat Warren, the author.
Dog learns to find the dead.
Good, easy read.
I really enjoyed this, particularly because I have a german shepherd pup that I'm contemplating doing tracking work with. The narrator is OK, but I found her voice irritating at times. Very interesting.
Perhaps I love this book because, like the author, I am a civilian cadaver dog handler. Like her, I have a real job but love doing cadaver detection with my German Shepherd. I started my first dog around the same time she did and now also have a young dog in training. That's my bias.
I think this book would be fascinating to anyone who is curious about what humans and dogs can do together especially the quirky work of finding the dead.
The author's explanations of why this work is so satisfying rang true as did her description of the parts of it that haunt a handler (probably not what you think). Her account of her and Solo's training and development into a working team described the joys and pitfalls common to human-canine teamwork. That story is interwoven with chapters on scientific and historical information about working dogs in general with a focus on sniffer dogs especially cadaver dogs. There is some fascinating material on the work that was done to investigate using other species to do detection work (such as bees, snakes and pigs).
This isn't a training book, but there are quotes from many good trainers and descriptions of problems that will perhaps inspire your training.
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