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Hero Dogs: Courageous Canines in Action    by Donna M. Jackson order for
Hero Dogs
by Donna M. Jackson
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Dogs epitomize loyalty, and while canine heroics don't surprise us, they always touch us. Jackson's book on the different roles and breeds of Hero Dogs is of interest to pooch lovers from pre-teens to adults. It's illustrated with photos of brave dogs in action. A list of resources at the back of the book gives book and website information for further exploration of the topic.

The author tells us that man's best friends 'depend on us for their survival, but we often depend on them for ours.' The cover photo shows disaster relief therapy dog Nikie at the World Trade Center site after 9/11. The entire first section of the book focuses on the dogs who were 'Partners in Crisis' at that time.

We see guide dogs who helped their blind partners out of the twin towers; 'air-scenting' rescue dogs who sniffed for survivors under the rubble in New York and Washington (and were often injured in the process); and therapy dogs who brought comfort and sanity to rescue workers through their presence.

I was glad to see the section on the 'Animal Mash' - a mobile veterinary center that treated dogs injured in rescue work - and sad to read about bomb-sniffing Labrador Sirius, who died in his kennel in a lower floor of the World Trade Center. Breeds in the author's spotlight range from Labradors, golden retrievers and German shepherds to keeshonds and beagles.

Jackson goes on to tell us about 'More Amazing Canines'. There are those who sniff out illegal edibles at customs checkpoints. Some (such as FBI specialist dog Jake) sniff for guns and explosives. Others, like rescue dog Doc, locate avalanche survivors under the snow.

We've all read in the papers about dogs who save their family from fire or other dangers, but it's even more fascinating to read about these courageous canines, whose jobs involve helping their companions - and often strangers - in crisis situations. They're all hero dogs.

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