cover image What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs

What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs

Cat Warren. Touchstone, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4516-6731-8

In this combination of history, science, and memoir, North Carolina State journalism professor Warren looks at the ways in which domestic animals have been able to assist humans, specifically the world of cadaver dogs, drug and bomb detecting police dogs, and tracking dogs. The author quickly gains the reader's sympathy with humorous accounts of her first days with Solo, the cadaver dog she's owned since birth, and earns the reader's respect with a well-researched chapter that calls into question much of the accepted and fluctuating statistics regarding dogs' superior sense of smell. Her history of the use of animals to locate human remains, which dates back to 1970, is balanced and authoritative. She provides insight into the emotional life of cadaver dog handlers, observing that there is much stress involved in the profession. The author also effectively critiques the misuse of animals' abilities in the legal system, where fraudulent claims of what their dogs found sent people to prison unjustly. The book is a welcome and necessary addition to the growing body of literature on the subject. 24 b& w photos. Agent: Gillian MacKenzie, Gillian Mackenzie Agency. (Oct.)