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Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog

Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog

4.3 117
by Susannah Charleson

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An unforgettable memoir from a search-and-rescue pilot and her spirited canine partner

In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, Susannah Charleson clipped a photo from the newspaper of an exhausted canine handler, face buried in the fur of his search-and-rescue dog. A dog lover and pilot with search experience herself, Susannah was so moved by the image

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Scent of the Missing 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 117 reviews.
rubypearl More than 1 year ago
this book was almost perfect, regarding real life story of a dog and owner intertwined, plus equal in depth information in the canine search and rescue world. told in a humble, female perspective, with unpretentious inserts of humor and touching personal tragedy. not your typical writing, which makes it even more memorable and worth reading.
Azra More than 1 year ago
It's a good book to read for everyone it makes us appriciate our animal friends more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a fascinating book that I feel privileged to have read.  Though the sound of it has always impressed me, I have a newfound respect and appreciation for Search and Rescue Teams.  A well written book which describes the sights, sounds, smells, procedure, discipline, devotion, sacrifice, fun and emotion so well that you’re in the moment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If your interested in K9 SAR then this is a realistic portrait of what it's like, enjoyed and will read again and again.
Frisbeesage More than 1 year ago
Finally an author who can write with a dog story worth telling has come along! In Scent of the Missing Susannah Charleson illuminates the often romanticized, but little known world of search and rescue dogs. She starts with her own introduction to the SAR, as a field assistant and finishes the book with an accounting of the training of her own SAR dog, Puzzle. If you are expecting sappy, feel-good accounts of rescues you may be disappointed. Susannah tells it like it is including the disappointments, heartbreak, and the rescues that may have been better staying unfound. Still, in the end, you will have a profound appreciation for the incredible work and dedication demanded of the handlers and dogs. While SAR is a fascinating world, what really makes the book is Susannah's writing style. The book flows effortlessly and the vocabulary and subject matter are sophisticated. I learned a lot from this book and enjoyed myself along the way. I can only hope that Susannah continues the story of Puzzle!
cupcake19 More than 1 year ago
when i started this book, i didn't have clue as to the extent of training that went into a search & rescue dog. with an engaging writing style, the author both educated & entertained me; i came to really care if puzzle & suzannah would make the cut to become sar dog & handler. i am so happy they did! the teams of sar dogs & handlers do such an important job with no government support & sometimes not much understanding from their employers when they need to be deployed at a moment's notice. we all owe them a big thank you for the job they do & this is one terrific book!
Carabrook More than 1 year ago
Every day we call on our canine companions to help us through tragedy, share our joys and sorrows as family pets. Scent of the Missing brings those attributes of the loyal dog to a new level of awareness. The value of the search and rescue dogs is immeasurable and this book details that fact. It is also a commentary on human determination and strenght of spirit when faced with overwheming obstacles. This is an enlightening book about Search and Rescue dogs, the dedication of the handlers and inspirational. The writing style is smooth and effortless. Humorous in places and heartwrenching in others, it is a good read.
LegalBeagle More than 1 year ago
You've seen them on the six o'clock news and in the newspapers: search dogs and their handlers. 9/11, the Oklahoma bombing, and virtually every high profile tragedy, the dogs in their colorful vests are on the scene - sniffing for victims. They also perform the more "routine" emergency searches including drownings, missing children, teenage runaways, and Alzheimer walkaways. But did you know that the vast majority of search and rescue squads are volunteers? What would compel a person to willingly sign up for the hardest of duties without monetary compensation? And what is it like to raise/train a search dog? In Scent of the Missing by Susannah Charleson, the author answers these questions and more. The memoir is a beautifully written account of Puzzle's, a Golden Retriever, first eighteen months of training and searching. The story details Puzzle's maturation as a search dog and Charleson's growth as a handler. Scent of the Missing also conveys what really happens when a search is called. Not all searches are successful and some are emotionally draining on the handlers. As Charleson poignantly notes after one fruitless search: Some of us are angry, some so sad we can barely speak. Rescues that become recoveries are never easy. Recoveries involving children - whether we are there at the moment of find or not - may be the hardest of all. In time we go on to other searches and other sectors behind the dogs. But I am never far away from Braden [a child victim] Still rain or shine, optimistic or with a heavy heart, on the next search call the dogs and their handlers will be there to give 100 percent until they are told to stand down (cease searching). Scent of the Missing is a must read for anyone who has ever wondered what it is like to be search and rescue member. Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 14, 2010), 304 pages. Review based on borrowed public library copy.
Suepuppies1 More than 1 year ago
Absolutely fascinating book. Amazing to learn of the capabilities of dogs....I don't understand why search and rescues groups don't receive any type of government assistance...what these people do is absolutely invaluable. Reading this book should be "required" for high school and college students, maybe it would be a help in encouraging compassion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Growing up i decided i wanted to start my own animal rescue .after reading this book it reminded me of that time and how at that moment i was living the dream of owning my own business . This book is an amazing book and lets people know that they should follow their dreams of saving animals.
See-A_Lot_Like_Look More than 1 year ago
Susannah Charleston "speaks" for her Puzzle as I speak for my dogs - cracking up everyone in hearing/reading distance as the dogs' thought bubbles are spoken aloud. When a dog as full of herself as Puzzle speaks her mind, entertainment of the first degree ensues. More importantly, Ms. Charleston brings the life of a search and rescue dog and handler/trainer, the training, the difficulties and rewards, into a beautiful focus for those of us who only know them from news shows and newspapers when disaster strikes, remaining ignorant of the before and after. It was only after reading this the first time that my mind was opened to the use of dogs in time of war, through the new Rin Tin Tin book. This was the second time I'd bought and read this book. First time when it came out about two years ago, I bought it for my brother-in-law for his birthday. He sweetly allowed me to read it before he did! I regretted not having a copy so I recently bought it for my Nook and read it again. It was a double pleasure. I have never followed anyone on Twitter before, but now I am trying to figure out how to follow Susannah and Puz. I'm a Puzzle groupie!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent read. If you love dogs and adventure you will love this book. The dedication of sar dogs and their handlers is inspirational.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! I will read it over and over
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting and fun to read. Made me want to join a Search and Rescue team!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great behind-the-scenes look at the training of a S.A.R. team. Very well-written.
Donna Casey More than 1 year ago
Wish there would have been more stories about searches after Puzzle got certified. The training program seems way more intense than the training that myself & my dog are going through. Would love to talk to this woman.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an easy book to read. I was not sure what to expect when I started to read the book. Was it going to be an unrealistic, "my dog is a hero" type book, or my dog never misses a person? But I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it was a down to earth account, more like a memoir, of the authors first involvement with SAR as a pilot, and then in training as a canine handler. The book is a mix of life with her dog, from puppyhood to maturity, as well as personal accounts of her own life and her SAR training. The book resonated with the author's humility, honesty and accurate description of all three aspects of her life. I feel that this blend of topics make the book more interesting and fun to read. I strongly recommend it for anyone who is involved with SAR, and those who aspire to become involved in any aspect of SAR.
k9lvr More than 1 year ago
this book is awesome. a great story about the human/dog relatioship as well as insight into the world of search and rescue and the hard work and sacrifices of those involved.
Seldya More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book a lot. I found myself unable to put it down! This author is extremely easy to relate to, which makes it easy to lose yourself in this book. I found myself cheering for her and Puzzle, and worrying when things looked bad. This book is staying in my little library for sure!
LucyLu2 More than 1 year ago
I was surprised and very pleased by not only the wonderful content of this book, but the writing. Sometimes these kinds of books focus well on the activity and progression of the topic, but the writing style can be dry. Susannah obviously has talent in this area as well as knowing how to organize a book to keep it very interesting and intriguing. Loved this book! Learned so much about canine SAR! Even though I don't plan to train any of my dogs in SAR, it's given me some creative ideas about how to keep my dogs interested and curious right at home. Highly recommend it to any dog lover who wants to better understand the minds of dogs.
TheIntrovertedReader More than 1 year ago
I was drawn to the story of Susannah and Puzzle. I don't watch the news a lot, but even I have noticed that whenever a disaster happens, there's always footage of a SAR (search-and-rescue) worker and his or her dog in the background. I did not realize that these workers are volunteers who spend hours training each week, not to mention the time that they spend actively searching. What a huge commitment to make to help out other people. And what a dog Puzzle is! She is highly intelligent and creative, and through Susannah's eyes we can watch Puzzle reasoning her way through the problems she's confronted with. I was amazed at some of the stories I read, not just about Puzzle but about all the dogs in their SAR team. I don't want to give anything away, so I won't say much, but just think about training in burnt buildings and the myriad of scents these dogs must be confronted with. I had no idea that SAR dogs can work on the water also. Who knew? Oh, and the picture of the volunteer and his dog rappelling down the side of a building together blew me away. A dog calmly rappelling? Wow. There's one section where Susannah writes feelingly about her time as an assistant on the search after the Columbia space shuttle exploded. She handled it with sensitivity, but it was heart-breaking to read about. Even the dogs suffered from burnout on that search. I think part of the reason the author chose to write this memoir is to confront the misconceptions the public, especially those who work in public services such as law enforcement and emergency medicine, have about what exactly the dogs can do. She quotes one officer who tells her that he hates to see the dogs called in because that means they've given up hope on finding a live person and believe they're now searching for a body. She gears up to tell him that these dogs can practically work miracles and they should always be called to a search early on when he cuts her off and says, "We only use dogs for human remains....Live people just don't smell bad enough." Susannah amply proves her point in this book that the dogs absolutely should be called in before all hope is given up. Training Puzzle is no easy task. A dog as bright, independent, and inquisitive as she is has her own ideas about proper behavior. Convincing her otherwise provides some entertaining moments. Especially when they share the house with a multitude of jealous Pomeranians. They all have to play the searching game! And when Puzzle decides to find someone's hidden stash of treats--well, let's just say the results aren't pretty but they're funny. I think animal lovers of all kinds will love this book. It kept my attention, and I even kept reading bits to my husband, something I don't recall ever doing with a non-fiction book before. I also think it's important for the law enforcement and emergency medical communities to give it a try just so they do know the dogs' abilities. I loved learning about these dogs and their volunteer handlers, and I loved "meeting" Puzzle and Susannah, may they share a long and healthy partnership!
bridget3420 More than 1 year ago
Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love my dogs. They are not pets, they are members of my family. We have been through so much together and I can't imagine my life without them. I love it when I read or hear about someone who loves their dogs as much as I love mine. I feel like Susannah is a kindred spirit. Susanna teaches her do Puzzle a lot but Puzzle ends up teaching her as well. I found this book to right on when it comes to the love a dog and human can share. Susanna tells her story brilliantly and had me wanting more. Dog lovers everywhere will rejoice when reading this heartwarming book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Until I read this book I had no idea the amount of time & effort goes into training an SAR dog. The dedication and rigors the dog and his human companion must go through are astouding. I wish both of them all the best!