Dogs. They are amazing.

The Dogs of War: The
Courage, Love, and Loyalty of Military Working Dogs
by Lisa
Rogak
In the dog person/cat person question, I’m unquestionably a dog
person. Seeing a dog hanging out of a car window, grinning, slays me every
time. They’re made happy so easily, it almost breaks my heart. (Note: No, there
are no dogs at Casa Unruly. I’m still trying to keep houseplants from
perishing. [mixed results there]  I have my limits.)
Normally I have a “no dog books” rule, because dog books almost
always make me cry. (Or, in the case of Marley
and Me
, hurl.) The dogs are always dying in those books, and why would anyone read such a thing?!
But when I saw the ARC of this book available at NetGalley from
Macmillan (thanks, guys!) I thought, That’s a dog book I could handle. Probably
I’ll end up emotionally overwhelmed by the very goodness of dogs—especially
dogs as heroes during wartime—but that’s the way it goes.
Yes, that’s how it went.
And this thing starts out with a serious bang. The first section
was so darn riveting I read it three times. And I just keep thinking about it.
That first section’s about the dog that took part in the Navy
SEALs raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. Holy
Toledo!

OK, so that’s crazy-amazing. The parts that get me are that the
dog wore specially-made night-vision goggles and a flak jacket, had a camera
mounted on his back, and had an earbud that allowed his handler to communicate
with him. 
I just can’t get over the fact that there was a dog on that mission.
Anyway.
The rest of the book describes the unique relationship between military
dogs and their handlers. The dogs are given a military rank, and they actually
outrank their handler. (This makes me smile.)
Now, there was one part of me that thought: Those poor puppies,
being thrown into harm’s way and not knowing the risks. (Kind of like how I
used to feel sorry for sled dogs, who had to pull all that weight through the
snow.) But then I thought: The dogs they’re choosing to train for these missions
are dogs that are suited to do this work. They’re not training up lapdogs, for
pete’s sake. And clearly, the dogs often are treated better than the humans.
The best part of this book is the quotes from the dog handlers,
whose words clearly show the bond they’ve developed with their dog. Here’s
Robert Moore, whose Weimaraner partner, Wisky, served with him in Iraq:
“‘You talk to them just like anybody else. It’s just like if you’re with
somebody every day, like your squad mates or people who are on your team that
you’ve worked with for a whole year, it’s a very strong bond.’” (p. 180 of the
ARC eBook)
The eBook numbers 268 pages, which makes it feel a little too long
for what I’m about to say: This book feels like it could be read by younger
readers (maybe middle school on up). The subject matter is high-interest stuff,
and the writing doesn’t seem like it would be too complex for younger readers. 
But it works for grown-ups, too. I, for one, found it fascinating. 

Leave a Reply

  1. Have you read Garth Stein's "The Art of Racing in the Rain"? A tear-jerker for sure (for various reasons), but a very cool book, narrated by Enzo, a dog anyone would love to have as part of their lives.

  2. Unruly,
    I'm emphatically not a dog person but I do like a good dog book (and one that, as you note with Marley and Me, does not make me hurl). Thanks for the tip!

    And don't worry about the houseplants. I regularly kill houseplants but I've kept my kitty happily alive for 16 years. At least I think she's happy–she's curled up in the sun right now, looking pretty happy. I'm sure you could do the same for a doggy. (But a pet is additional work. No doubt about it.)

  3. Tracy — Actually, I'm avoiding that book like the plague! — even though I hear nothing but good things about it. That tearjerker aspect… just can't do it. Weak constitution.

    Citizen — Thanks for the vote of confidence. But yeah, I'm sticking with dog appreciation rather than ownership. Even though, they are cute…

  4. That is crazy — and definitely crazy awesome! I'm totally a dog person, too, and just read your passage about the dog on the Bin Laden mission aloud to a fellow dog-loving coworker. Sounds like one I would really enjoy — thanks for bringing it to my attention!