Soldier Dogs: The Untold Story of America's Canine Heroes

Soldier Dogs: The Untold Story of America's Canine Heroes

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by Maria Goodavage
     
 

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A leading dog-blogger offers a tour of military working dogs' extraordinary training, heroic accomplishments, and the lasting impacts they have on those who work with them.

People all over the world have been riveted by the story of Cairo, the Belgian Malinois who was a part of the Navy SEAL team that led the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound. A dog's

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Overview

A leading dog-blogger offers a tour of military working dogs' extraordinary training, heroic accomplishments, and the lasting impacts they have on those who work with them.

People all over the world have been riveted by the story of Cairo, the Belgian Malinois who was a part of the Navy SEAL team that led the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound. A dog's natural intelligence, physical abilities, and pure loyalty contribute more to our military efforts than ever before. You don't have to be a dog lover to be fascinated by the idea that a dog-the cousin of that furry guy begging for scraps under your table-could be one of the heroes who helped execute the most vital and high-tech military mission of the new millennium.

Now Maria Goodavage, editor and featured writer for one of the world's most widely read dog blogs, tells heartwarming stories of modern soldier dogs and the amazing bonds that develop between them and their handlers. Beyond tales of training, operations, retirement, and adoption into the families of fallen soldiers, Goodavage talks to leading dog-cognition experts about why dogs like nothing more than to be on a mission with a handler they trust, no matter how deadly the IEDs they are sniffing, nor how far they must parachute or rappel from aircraft into enemy territory.

"Military working dogs live for love and praise from their handlers," says Ron Aiello, president of the United States War Dogs Association and a former marine scout dog handler. "The work is all a big game, and then they get that pet, that praise. They would do anything for their handler." This is an unprecedented window into the world of these adventurous, loving warriors.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When news leaked in 2011 that Cairo, a Belgian Malinois, was a member of SEAL Team Six—the group credited with killing Osama bin Laden—interest in "soldier dogs" soared. Though they've been used on and off by the American military since WWI, the role of dogs in warfare has typically been something that only servicemen and women were familiar with. In this detailed account, former USA Today reporter Goodavage (The Dog Lover's Companion to California) takes readers behind the scenes to learn how these courageous canines are identified, trained, and cared for in the field. Tales of dogs searching for and identifying IEDs and other explosives that litter Afghanistan make up the bulk of her story, but Goodavage also spends a considerable amount of the book describing the relationships soldiers form with their canine companions . Stories of spooked pups aboard battle-bound Hueys and dogs in the line of fire reveal surprisingly human-like response to war, and posit these military mutts as admirable—and capable—soldiers. Photos. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Popular dog blogger Goodavage covers the training, duties, retirement, and adoption of military dogs while explaining that these animals live for their missions. Lots of interest in this subject, not least because the Navy SEAL team that raided Osama bin Laden's compound last May got help from Cairo, a Belgian Malinois.
Kirkus Reviews
Dogster.com writer Goodavage profiles an indispensible warrior of the four-legged variety. The author investigates how specially trained dog breeds work with American military troops in everything from stress relief to lifesaving bomb detection. They also assisted in the tracking and seizure of Osama bin Laden. The use of military animals dates back to World War I, but trained canines were often left behind or euthanized once combat ceased (they're now adopted out). These specially trained pups may be whelped as "equipment" for the Department of Defense, but they're prized as elemental keys to successful armed-forces missions; particularly helpful is their intuitive ability to "normalize" life for soldiers stressed by the relentless threat of enemy violence. Through interviews with upper-echelon military personnel (most in Afghanistan) and dog handlers, Goodavage uncovers how these dogs are procured and trained to become field-specialized, and she impartially addresses the conflicting ethics of employing canines in battle. The author's dog Jake appears throughout the narrative, yet unlike diminutive Jack Russell terrier Lars, with a nose for explosives, or Buck, a chocolate lab with crippling PTSD, Goodavage offers her faithful companion not as "military hero material," but as an effective contrast to the soldier dogs. The author provides inspiring personal stories of the many canine allies (and their handlers) who have dramatically enhanced military command units and examines how this indelible human-canine bond often transcends the atrocities of wartime violence. A well-deserved salute to the military's "paws-on-the-ground heroes."
From the Publisher
“A moving portrait of the loyal, courageous, furry warriors who are truly an enlisted Man’s Best Friend.”—People

Soldier Dogs is a fascinating book about the valiant things that military dogs do as told through the words of the soldiers who fight beside them. It also shows you how military service dogs are created, told through the words of the trainers and scientists who know the process. It is written in an easy and entertaining style and will acquaint you with dozens of canine heroes ranging from Stubby, who fought in WWI, to Cairo, who was a member of the raiding party that took down Osama bin Laden. It is a great read for anyone who appreciates dogs and heroes.”—Stanley Coren, author of The Intelligence of Dogs
 

"Goodavage's revealing and engaging book exposes the unexpected trust and affection that flows both ways between dog and handler."—John Bradshaw, author of Dog Sense
“A well-deserved salute to the military’s ‘paws-on-the-ground heroes.’”—Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780525952787
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/15/2012
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.86(h) x 1.14(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Maria Goodavage, a former reporter for USA Today and the San Francisco Chronicle, is the editor and featured writer for one of the most widely read dog blogs in the world, "For the Love of Dog" at Dogster.com. She is the author of The Dog Lover's Companion to California and The Dog Lover's Companion to the San Francisco Bay Area. She coproduced and wrote an award-winning children's video about dogs and other animals, starring the voice of Ed Asner. She lives with her family in San Francisco, and the four-legged guy on their team is a Lab named Jake.

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