Cat Warren is a North Carolina State University professor and former journalist with an admittedly odd hobby: She and her German shepherd have spent the last seven years searching for the dead. Solo is a cadaver dog. What started as a way to harness Solo’s unruly energy and enthusiasm soon became a calling that introduced her to the hidden and fascinating universe of working dogs, their handlers, and their trainers. Training and searching with Solo was the beginning of Warren’s odyssey into the world of working dogs: cadaver dogs, drug and bomb detecting K9s, tracking and apprehension dogs—even dogs who can locate unmarked graves of Civil War soldiers and help find drowning victims more than 200 feet below the surface of a lake. Working dogs’ abilities may seem magical or mysterious, but Warren shows the multifaceted science, the rigorous training, and the skilled handling that underlie the amazing abilities of dogs who work with their noses. Warren interviews cognitive psychologists, historians, medical examiners, epidemiologists, forensic anthropologists—as well as the breeders, trainers, and handlers who work with and rely on these remarkable and adaptable animals daily. Along the way, Warren discovers story after story that proves the remarkable capabilities—as well as the very real limits—of working dogs and their human partners. Clear-eyed and unsentimental, Warren explains why our partnership with working dogs is woven into the fabric of society, and why we keep finding new uses for the working dog’s wonderful nose.
Author Cat Warren uses her ongoing work with Solo, her German Shepherd cadaver dog, as a way to explore the science and history of working dogs