Hero Dogs: How a Pack of Rescues, Rejects, and Strays Became America's Greatest Disaster-Search Partners.
I mean the title tells you exactly what the book is going to be about but I am amazed by the work these dogs and their handlers put in. I feel it necessary to put in a disclaimer here; this book covers a wide variety of traumatic events including: the Oklahoma City Bombing, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, and the 2010 Haiti Earthquake.
Wilma Melville was freshly retired, in her 60's, and walking the aftermath of the Oklahoma City Bombing with her search dog, Murphy. The events that took place shocked her to her very core. That was when she had the idea to start the Search Dog Foundation (SDF). Her goal was to find shelter dogs and give them another chance at life, a life as a working dog. The idea was to find, train, certify, and eventually deploy at least 168 search dog teams; one team for each of the people killed in the bombing.
But Wilma didn't want this story to be about her.
She wanted it to be about Murphy, Ana, Dusty, Harley (her original dogs), along with the many other success stories who soon followed. These dogs worked their asses off. They were finally living up to their full potential and living the life they were meant to have. They would never spend another day in a shelter, abusive home, or wondering the streets. They instead would be recognized as heroes throughout the world. These dogs were trained to find living victims who were trapped in the rubbish of disasters. They spent countless hours learning hand signals and whistle blows from their handlers. They learned to bark alert when they found someone. They learned how to save people the way SDF saved them.
I love reading dog books, especially working dog books.
It's amazing what these animals are capable of and the amount of trust we put into them. In these tragic events, the dogs provided a service that would not have been possible for a human to do. But beyond that, they were a bright spot in these firefighters lives. They gave their all right there with men and women doing everything in their power to save a life.
Highly recommend this book to all dog lovers!!
Huge thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for a review copy!
Even bigger thanks to Wilma Melville for founding SDF and to Paul Lobo for writing her story!!