In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, Susannah Charleson clipped a photo from the newspaper: 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 that she decided to volunteer with a local canine team and soon discovered firsthand the long hours, nonexistent pay, and often heart-wrenching results they face.
Still she felt the call, and once she qualified to train a dog of her own, she adopted Puzzle, a strong, bright Golden Retriever puppy who exhibited unique aptitudes as a working dog but who was less interested in the role of compliant house pet. Puzzle's willfulness and high drive, both assets in the field, challenged even Susannah, who had raised dogs for years.
Scent of the Missing is the story of Susannah and Puzzle's adventures together and of the close relationship they forge as they search for the lost--a teen gone missing, an Alzheimer's patient wandering in the cold, signs of the crew amid the debris of the space shuttle Columbia disaster. From the earliest air-scent lessons to her final mastery of whole-body dialog, Puzzle emerges as a fully collaborative partner in a noble enterprise that unfolds across the forests, plains, and cityscapes of the Southwest. Along the way Susannah and Puzzle learn to read the clues in the field, and in each other, to accomplish together the critical work neither could do alone and to unravel the mystery of the human/canine bond.
Susannah Charleson works as a handler with her partner, a Golden Retriever named Puzzle, for the Metro Area Rescue K9 unit in Dallas, Texas, an elite volunteer canine Search and Rescue team responding to local, state, and national search and recovery cases. She also serves as the team's Public Information Officer and gives lectures across the country about SAR. A flight instructor who previously flew disaster searches, Susannah is also an experienced television and radio broadcaster. She and Puzzle share their home with six other dogs, four cats, and a fish named Sound Bite.
Here's What I Think
We have all seen the search and rescue teams on the news, as group search for missing persons and even objects. But do you ever really think about how those poeple and dogs got to that point. I ahve to say it is a thought that had escaped me until I was asked to review this book. I am totally amazed by the hours and hours of VOLUNTEER time spent by the dogs and handlers to learn the skills needed to perform the task of search and rescue. This book is sort of a collection of incidences that happen along the journey to becoming a resue team, with some actual cases thrown in. I learned a lot about this very important job. The story was interesting, if slow at times, definately a human intersest piece!