Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dogs in action: Working dogs and their stories by Maria Alomajan

Sometimes we forget how amazing mans best friend is - for many people dogs are a loyal companion and part of the family, but for others dogs are a working companion helping in times of need, or helping to defend from danger.  Dogs in action is an introduction to the world of working dogs of all shapes, sizes and professions.  There are dogs that work alongside people with disabilities of various kinds, helping them to navigate the world safely and more easily.  There are dogs trained to track criminals, detect bombs, and find people missing during times of disaster.  Dogs for animal assisted activities and animal assisted therapy are mentioned alongside dogs trained in prisons and to help people with psychiatric disorders.

I was really looking forward to reading this book because there is very little New Zealand material written about working dogs - but sadly I was quite disappointed.  The stories are grouped by the dog rather than by the work they do, and at times the information became quite garbled bouncing backwards and forwards between the story of a specific dog and then general information about the work dogs of that type can do, and then bouncing back to the specific dog.  In several cases the story was about one dog and another dogs story creeped in and overtook the main dogs story.  One of the most frustrating things was the lack of information about the organisations the dogs come from - information that would have been very helpful for people interested in supporting organisations and understanding where the dogs come from.

Overall this book feels as though it was started as one thing and then ended up as something else.  It feels like it was meant to be a children's book - mainly because of the focus on the dogs as the focus of the biographies - but it was too convoluted to be a children's book.  It also didn't feel as polished and well structured as other books which introduce working dogs and the work they do.  You can feel Alomajan's interest and passion but it failed to translate sufficiently to the page.  I found it a vaguely interesting read, but knowing a lot about these dogs and the organisations meant I read through the book quite quickly and was struck by a few errors - one company was spelt wrong.  This is one book that I am glad I borrowed from the library rather than purchasing.

If you would like to read more books about working dogs try:
  • Quake dogs by Laura Sessions and Craig Bullock
  • Soldier dogs by Maria Goodavage
  • Thunder dog by Michael Hingson
  • Hero dogs by Janet Menzies
  • Scent of the missing by Susnnah Charleson
  • Puppy chow is better than Prozac by Bruce Goldstein
  • Paws and effect: The healing power of dogs by Sharon Sakson
  • The possibility dogs by Susannah Charleson

Reviewed by Brilla

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