Maria Goodavage has written a great nonfiction book for animal lovers and those interested in the military. The book has its own website full of bonus features, including the book trailer, an extended excerpt from the book, an active blog, and ways to support military dogs. The Washington Post is lucky enough to have a series of photos introducing the dogs from the book. They have so much character! (It’s worth waiting through the site’s advertising video.)
As mentioned at the end of our review, there is a bill working its way through Congress right now, the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act (S. 2134), that would change these animals from being labeled as “Equipment” by the military. See the author’s blog for more information.
Adult/High School–In short, chatty chapters, a dog lover and writer embeds readers in the world of the military dog. Goodavage shares the most common job of the dogs (sniffing out explosives) and the best type of dog for it. (Would your pet make a good soldier? Probably not.) The book is divided into four parts : an introductory overview, details about the training, details of scientific background, and, finally, some episodes with actual soldiers and dogs. Along the way, Goodavage does a good job building the case that the dogs are happy, useful parts of the military unit, which makes these stories of the bond between the trainer and dog, especially in combat, even more touching. Certainly some of the stories are sad, but the cumulative effect is a recognition of these dogs as willing heroes, just like their humans. Most readers will find their preconceptions about military working dogs challenged. Even the cover photo holds a surprise – what looks like a wacky photo of a dog in paratrooper glasses is an actual working dog wearing protective goggles due to a war injury. Several colorful photos show the actual dogs and soldiers depicted in the book. As the book draws to a close, Goodavage shares some of the political movements related to the dogs, such as having them classified as more than equipment, as they are now. Teens will enjoy learning about these brave soldiers.–Jamie Watson, Baltimore County Public Library, MD