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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.

Mailbag Monday: Of Christmas and Courage

The cute Christmas cards just keep rolling in!

The most recent batch of deliveries finally included a festive dog.


This is Sophie, a golden retriever in Nebraska.

As you can see, although she has a little gray on the face, she is not too old to hang out with Santa Claus.


Sophie belongs to the parents of one of my dearest friends from high school.

Another cool thing that arrived at my doorstep in the past few days was this book:

Dogs of Courage by Lisa Rogak

Dogs of Courage by Lisa Rogak

I am super excited for the extra time off work I am getting for the holidays this year. I will use some of it to pore over author Lisa Rogak’s accounts of the work that dogs do all over the world – including fighting crime, fighting fire, saving people and offering medical assistance and therapy to people in need.

On my initial flip-through, I landed on a page about one of the coolest things dogs can be taught to do – sniff out whales on the open ocean with the organization Conservation Canines!

Look out for my full review of Dogs of Courage sometime soon!

What kind of mail did you receive last week? What kind did you send?

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