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Scent of the Missing by Susannah Charleson

Scent of the Missing tells the story of a person and a dog training to be part of a canine search and rescue (SAR) team. Before going any further, I must tell you that the dog does NOT die in this book! Anyway, the author (Susannah Charleson) first has to train as an assistant to the SAR team before she can actually acquire a dog and train it. I didn’t know that most of these teams are not paid- they’re volunteers. It’s got to take a special person who is willing to spend several hours weekly training, get called out in the night, and not get paid for any of it. Also, I thought that everyone was so thrilled with SAR teams that everyone at the scene would want to pet the dogs and they would hardly be able to work-wrong! In fact, plenty of times the civilians don’t want the dogs there to help- sometimes the team is given Kevlar vests to wear because of the danger. There are people who actually do not want to be found (think teenage runaway), dangerous places that have wild animal traps, poisoned bait, etc. So not only are SAR members not being compensated, sometimes they’re stressed about the risks to their beloved dog. This is not a job or hobby to take on without thinking a lot about it beforehand. After she’s trained as an SAR assistant the author adopts Puzzle, a golden retriever puppy that she describes as looking like a tater tot with little floppy ears. Puzzle takes to SAR training like she was born to it but her regular home training (like loose leash walking) is as frustrating as a regular puppy’s is. This is a great book about human and canine heroes and the sacrifices they make (great pictures, too).

Stacy W.

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