Susan comes to believe that a puppy and working on ski patrol at the last great ski town in Colorado will improve her life. When she learns about avalanches that bury people without warning, she challenges herself: “What if I teach a dog to save lives?” This quest propels her to train the best possible search dog, vowing to never leave anyone behind.
With no clue how to care for a houseplant, let alone a dog, she chooses a five-week-old Labrador retriever, Tasha. With the face of a baby bear and the temperament of an NFL linebacker, Tasha constantly tests Susan’s determination to transform her into a rescue dog. Susan and Tasha jockey for alpha position as they pursue certification in avalanche, water, and wilderness recovery. Susan eventually learns to truly communicate with Tasha by seeing the world through her dog’s nose.
As the first female team in a male-dominated search-and-rescue community, they face resistance at every turn. They won’t get paid even a bag of kibble for their efforts, yet they launch dozens of missions to rescue the missing or recover the remains of victims of nature and crime.
Training with Tasha in the field to find, recover, and rescue the lost became Susan’s passion. But it was also her circumstance—she was in many ways as lost as anyone she ever pulled out of an avalanche or found huddled in the woods. “Lostness” doesn’t only apply to losing the trail. People can get lost in a relationship, a business, or a life. Susan was convinced that only happened to other people, until Tasha and a life in the mountains taught her otherwise.
Susan Purvis, owner of Crested Butte Outdoors International, has taught wilderness medicine to everyone from the Secret Service to Sherpa guides in Nepal. Purvis and her search-and-rescue dog, Tasha, whom she trained to save lives on the most avalanche-prone slopes in Colorado, launched dozens of rescue missions and received Congressional Recognition for their role in avalanche search and rescue. Purvis’ work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian, the BBC, and on Discovery. She lives in Whitefish, Montana. Go Find is her first book.
In 1995, Wilma Melville volunteered as a canine search-and-rescue (SAR) handler with her Black Labrador Murphy in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. At the time, there were only fifteen FEMA certified SAR dogs in the United States. Believing in the value of these remarkable animals to help save lives, Wilma knew many more were needed in the event of future major disasters. She made a vow to help 168 dogs receive search-and-rescue training in her lifetime—one for every Oklahoma City victim.
Wilma singlehandedly established the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) to meet this challenge. The first canine candidates—Ana, Dusty, and Harley—were a trio of golden retrievers with behavioral problems so severe the dogs were considered irredeemable and unadoptable. But with patience, discipline, and love applied during training, they proved to have the ability, agility, and stamina to graduate as SARs. Paired with a trio of firefighters, they were among the first responders searching the ruins of the World Trade Center following 9/11—setting the standard for the more than 168 of the SDF’s search-and-rescue dogs that followed.
Beautiful and heart-wrenching, Hero Dogs is the story of one woman’s dream brought to fruition by dedicated volunteers and firefighters—and the bonds they forged with the incredible rescued-turned-rescuer dogs to create one of America’s most vital resources in disaster response.
Many heroes were made on 9/11 and in the weeks that followed. Not all of them showed human courage. Some of them could only show that they were truly man’s best friend. German Shepherds, Labradors and Spaniels accounted for the majority of the four-legged heroes.
Over three hundred search and rescue dogs worked the pile at Ground Zero and the crash site at the Pentagon. For hours they searched, fighting off exhaustion with sheer determination and they continued every day long after the hope of finding survivors had passed.
There were faithful Guide dogs who helped their sightless owners out of the Twin Towers and led them to safety showed unstinting devotion in the face of adversity. And later, therapy dogs arrived to bring comfort to the bereaved and confused. At every stage of the operation, dogs were there helping humankind in various roles. And invaluably, they provided comfort and reassurance and lifted spirits by their pure presence.
Sadly many of the dogs are no longer with us but their achievements will never be forgotten. Isabel George was fortunate that the people close to the dogs were pleased to be asked to share their stories. This book is to honour the dogs and their people.
When Steve Jamieson met Bilbo, a chocolate Newfoundland puppy, little did he know that the small bundle of fluff would grow to take up a huge space in his heart and change his life forever. The pair were inseparable, with Bilbo accompanying Steve to his job as head lifeguard of Sennen beach in Cornwall every day. With his webbed paws and thick, double layer of fur, Bilbo was an excellent swimmer and he was soon promoted to honorary lifeguard. He was even credited with saving the lives of three people.
Word about Bilbo spread and fans flocked from miles around to meet the friendly giant. But Bilbo and Steve couldn't have foreseen the obstacles that life would throw at them. Together, they would have to gather every bit of their strength to fight for their livelihood.
Warm, heartfelt and moving, Bilbo the Lifeguard Dog is a tale of heroism and friendship, and is one man's tribute to his extraordinary dog.
* The stories of the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs take readers behind the scenes of their headlining deployments—such as the Boston Marathon bombing, Superstorm Sandy, and the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
* Search and Rescue K-9 teams reveal what it’s really like to travel into the eye of natural disasters, accidents, crime scenes, and the worst terrorist strike in recorded history.
* At Washington Dulles International Airport, readers meet several of the Department of Homeland Security’s TSA dogs whose sole job it is to keep the flying public safe from explosives and other dangers.
Extraordinary Dogs is both a portrait of what love, hope, courage, and heroism look like in their purest forms and a tribute to the eternal and impactful bonds we forge with our furry friends.