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What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs    by Cat Warren order for
What the Dog Knows
by Cat Warren
Order:  USA  Can
Touchstone, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

What the Dog Knows by Cat Warren (I love a woman named Cat writing a book about dogs! Don't you?) is a serious text about the search for, the training of, and the working of the dogs for the recovery of dead bodies. This is no easy pastime for someone looking to fill empty hours or the chance to put in a bit of volunteer time.

This is most definitely a serious decision to make. First you must find the right dog with the right lineage. A trainer must be found who will work you and the dog. You must discover whether the dog should be rewarded for finding a setup with food or a toy. After many grueling hours which morph into years, you will be asked to participate in finding a lost child, an old man who has wandered away from his home, or possibly a dead body. The dog's joy at completing what was asked of it is one of your rewards for a successful mission.

Warren paid her dues with hard, intense work that paid off. She has used her dog Solo in many searches throughout North Carolina. Solo can, as can other dogs, find a corpse buried underground! Also twenty feet underwater!!

What the Dog Knows is not a novel that can be easily synopsized. There is no real plot, nor a grand ending with a culprit brought to justice. It is downright serious as an account of what these highly trained dogs and their handlers can achieve. I thought it might be a tad boring. However I found myself caught up in the intricacies of what on the surface appears to be a just a hard walk in the woods. Far from it. Instead you 'Enter the fascinating world of working dogs' as Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human puts it.

Brian Hare, anthropologist and Director of Duke University's Canine Cognition Center says, 'Cat Warren has captured both the magic and the best science behind the success of the modern working dog.' What more can I add?

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