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

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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 natural intelligence, physical abilities, and pure loyalty contribute more to our military efforts than ever before. You don't ...

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

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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."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525952787
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/15/2012
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.86 (h) x 1.14 (d)

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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 27 )
Rating Distribution

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(13)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 23, 2012

    Great research and stories

    My mother had mentioned that she had talked my father into reading this and he had stated it was pretty good, so I gave it a shot. This is definitely a subject more people should be aware of and show appreciation for the individuals and dogs involved. I can tell you that after losing my dog 1 1/2 years ago, just the memory of having to put him down due to bone cancer still tears my heart open. I've always been a dog person and truly enjoy them. If you are a dog lover like myself, do not watch Marley and Me and then read this book. Tears will follow. The book is not a sad read, it's inspirational and a great resource for information and some history regarding military dogs. However, there are some sad stories involved.

    I think Maria did an excellent job with one exception. The book tends to bounce around a little bit and doesn't really flow well. I still enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who likes dogs and/or wants to know some more about military dogs.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2012

    Fascinating book. It really shows how military working dogs are

    Fascinating book. It really shows how military working dogs are selected, trained for duty, what their service actually entails, and how important these dogs are in saving lives. The bond between dog and soldier is incredibly heart warming.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2012

    Extraordinary story, people & animals

    Bought this after seeing Goodavage's interview on the "John Stewart Show". Incredible reading. A wonderful explanation of what dogs know and understand. I was expecting a more military book but this was much better than that. The dedication and skill of the trainers and handlers is matched by the stunning performance and loyalty of the dogs. If you are looking for an adventure novel this ain't it but if you want information this is the place.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2013

    I don't have a lot of time to read, but like reading books based

    I don't have a lot of time to read, but like reading books based on facts.  I am also an animal (dog) lover.  
    This book was easy to read, easy to pick up and read when I had a few minutes.  The hardest part was to keep track of the dogs 
    who are mentioned at different times in the book - especially since I drew out the time it took to read it.  Makes you want to hug a 
    handler and adopt a military dog after reading it.  When I feel alone, my dogs really help ease that, so I can only imagine what kind
    of a bond a handler and a soldier dog would have.  Really loved this book!  Sharing it with my fellow dog lovers.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2012

    And these dogs are often left behind

    They are trying to pass a law that takes military dogs that are now classified as military equipment...and insure they come bak and get care and training if needed to adjust and get a permanent home Google it. And send an email to your federal representatives. (Line 3 first word should read: back, not bak.)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2012

    Bless all our troops, human and k-9

    Great book! I learned so much and having been telling others about this book nonstop!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    A very good read. All dog lovers should read this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 26, 2012

    Recommended for animal lovers

    VERY informative and interesting for someone who has or plans to own a dog. The book is not highly structured as it just tells stories about dogs, their handlers, and the people who run the military programs, but it is very evident that the author did a great deal of research and knows her subject. A lot of very short chapters make it just right for those us us who read right before sleep.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2012

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2013

    My k-9 MP daughters picture with her mwd Block Is In the book

    My k-9 MP daughters picture with her mwd Block Is In the book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2012

    Great for dog lovers

    Doggles rule!

    0 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted October 18, 2012

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