What Modern Working Dogs Do

Do you know what dogs can do?

The truth is almost anything – and they really like having a job.

At least, that’s the feeling I had as I read the book Dogs of Courage by Lisa Rogak.

Dogs of Courage by Lisa Rogak

Dogs of Courage by Lisa Rogak

Dogs can use their sniffers to detect endangered species, missing people, dangerous and illegal substances and even disease lurking in your body.

Dogs can use their bodies to protect, soothe, guide and inspire.

Most of all, dogs can use their instincts to serve and to love.

But often – not always – dogs need a human coach.

That theme runs throughout Rogak’s book, which is a comprehensive overview of the myriad roles of the modern working dog and what qualifies him for his gig.

In under 300 pages, the author describes in detail – and with plenty of expert interviews and real life anecdotes – dozens of jobs that dogs do for humans today.

Some dog careers are familiar – police work, search and rescue, therapy. Others are more unusual or more specialized than you might realize – arson detection, invasive species tracking, reading assistance.

The tales relayed by Rogak both educated and brought me near tears several times.

For me, one of the most fascinating stories involves Xolo dogs, a Mexican hairless breed. Their ultra-warm, small bodies are, apparently, ideally suited to help provide relief to sufferers of chronic pain.

As I read about the Paws for Comfort dogs, I couldn’t help but think of my own tiny, toasty and thin-coated elderpin and how napping with him snuggled up against me is helpful when I get a migraine.


Miniature Pinscher, Migraine Killer

Of course, other dog jobs are more complex and heroic on a grander scale, with canines acting to save humanity and other species on land, sea and even air, in all kinds of trying conditions.

Throughout the book, I kept squinting with my brain to imagine dogs I know performing the heroic acts Rogak describes.

I could see Luke offering comfort to residents of a nursing home.

I couldn’t so much see Charlie Machete staying focused enough to sniff out someone buried under rubble in an urban disaster area.


“Who needs help?” “Squirrel!”

Perhaps there is some comfort in the fact that oftentimes the traits that help a dog excel at a given task are the same attributes that make him less suited to life as a family pet. (By the way, Charlie Machete is still available to become YOUR family pet.)

What is the bravest thing your dog has ever done?

To learn more about Dogs of Courage, check out author Lisa Rogak’s website.
Dogs of Courage would make a great Valentine’s gift for the dog lovers on your list. Find more ideas for your human and canine sweethearts in my Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for Dogs and Dog Lovers.
Disclaimer: The author provided me with a free copy of Dogs of Courage in exchange for an honest review of the book.

About crystalwayward

I live with two formerly wayward dogs. I care deeply about the environment, and I think gardening is a revolutionary act.

Posted on January 27, 2013, in Dogs, Dogtography, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Dogs never cease to amaze and humble us.

  2. I’d never be able to read the book. I’d be in tears the whole way through, I swear.
    Another Migraine sufferer. I do feel for you as I have been getting them since I was a young child. Glad you can receive some comfort from your dog.

  3. Bella saved me from a home intruder when she was only about 6 months old. I was in bed and she chased him from our home. She also got rid of a very unwanted date, letting him know in no uncertain terms he wasn’t welcome – with nothing from me other than my body language! They are phenomenal.

  4. Boomer on a regular basis will get between me and anyone he thinks might be a problem. One day, when he was barely over a year old, I was walking him alone through our neighborhood and a man approached us and really made me nervous, Boomer politely told him in no way was he getting near me by moving to my other side between the man and I, raising his fur and puffing up as big as he could. When the guy came closer and was trying to reach out Boomer let him know not so politely though some serious growling and teeth showing that if he came any closer to his mama he might lose a limb… luckily the guy backed off. I never even said a word, he just protected me b/c he thought it was what he was supposed to do. When we got home there were quite a few treats and pats given to my sweet boy for looking out for me. He still does it to this day whenever he thinks someone might be a problem he moves in between that person and I and takes up guard. I really do feel safe when I’m out with him.

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