Solo was an unruly German shepherd puppy and until his owner Cat Warren decided to try to find a way to handle his energy, she was wary about what kind of dog he would grow into. After having well-behaved shepherds in the past, Warren was worried that the dog would be too much for her to handle until a trainer friend suggested she consider training Solo as a cadaver dog. Warren, a college professor with a science and reporting background, was open to the idea even though she knew little about cadaver dogs and what would be required of both her and Solo if this was the path that they would continue on together. Once Solo got a taste of the training, it was immediately clear that this would be his future.
Warren was unfamiliar with all that owning a working dog entailed and her knowledge and training moves right along with Solo, who had finally found an outlet for all of his energy. Throwing much of her energy into research and discovery, Warren uncovers not only the basics and science of cadavers (and the dogs that search for them), but also learns about the world of working dogs and their handlers. As Warren and Solo move further into the world of cadaver recovery, Warren learns about military dogs, K9 officers, and more, while trying to find the balance between handler and owner with Solo. Warren is detailed, well-researched and descriptive with her discoveries and she is quick to share her emotions, her facts and her own development in the field as well as Solo’s. For anyone looking for a feel good story about a dog and their owner, What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs is not that book – there are, however, personal dialogues and Warren shares emotions – as Warren writes the book in a factual, scientific manner rather than a flowery way.
Warren explains the complex dynamic between people and dogs and how these important relationships also play a critical part in the working world, not just in homes. Solo’s career taught Warren not only about a new field that she knew nothing about, but also fueled her research and helped her find a new passion along with her pup. At times the book is a bit wordy due to Warren’s extensive and thorough analysis, but it is worth sticking with and much can be learned about the little discussed world of working dogs.
Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.com.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.