Over the last one to two years, I've noticed Xena's sense of smell seems to be on overdrive. Her nose during our walks is constantly to the ground. On breezy days she stands still shifting her stance with the wind's direction. I have watched her detect the presence of an animal or certain person long before they come into view. At night when we take our final walk around the yard, if she freezes nose in the air and starts barking we move speedily back toward safety.
We humans have come to trust the incredible sense of smell found in dogs. Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, respected nonfiction author, has written Super Sniffers: Dog Detectives on the Job (Bloomsbury, September 2014) conveying the important work of canines and their noses. Within four chapters, forty-eight pages, we are consistently informed and constantly astonished at their abilities.
Take a dog, any dog, for a walk along a sidewalk or in a park, and you won't be walking much---you'll be standing there holding a leash while the dog sniffs at every bush and every lamppost.
For generations we humans have relied on dogs' noses to assist us in finding food, maintaining order in the herding of other animals and locating wounded soldiers and explosive devices during times of war. Forty per cent more of a dog's brain is designated for smell than a human's brain. Specific breed and temperament determine which jobs are best for which dogs. Training to separate certain smells from others is intense but rewarding for our canine companions. Once their skills are honed they go to places and in conditions out of the ordinary to complete their assignments.
Top on the list for these trained noses is searching for people and finding explosives. In the case of an avalanche dogs can sniff out a human under thirteen feet of snow. They can perceive the whiff of a human recently deceased or dead for hundreds of years. A MWD (military working dog), known for their proficiency in operating off leash in difficult areas, usually is a teammate with the same handler for the duration of their service. It's interesting to note dogs working with law enforcement officers live off duty with their human partner.
Pooch snoots have even found a place in protecting our planet, seeking out plants not native to a given area before they take over, scat of endangered species and polluted water. People with special medical conditions have benefited from dogs' capabilities to smell when a hormone imbalance has happened or a dangerous allergen is present. It's downright uncanny how their noses know when specific cancers have begun in a person's body.
Dorothy Hinshaw Patent begins each of the four chapters, Dogs And Their Amazing Noses, Searching And Saving, Helping Planet Earth and Medical Alert Dogs, with two page overviews before citing explicit examples. The discussions of these jobs are also contained within two pages. Patent converses with her readers offering details which increase reader understanding of what is needed and how these highly trained dogs fill that need.
In addition she chooses to focus on five individual dogs, a Specialized Search Dog in the military, a dog used to identify specific species, a dog who was slated to be put down and is now sniffing out sewage leaks, a dog who never leaves the side of a young boy with Type 1 diabetes and dog in training to smell peanuts as far as three feet away. These introductions make the subject more personal for the reader. Men, women and children working with and benefiting from these dogs all find a place within this title.
The color scheme shown on the front dust jacket, yellow, red and teal blue, is used throughout the book. Colorful, up-to-date and relevant photographs are integrated into the layout and design enhancing the text. If the background is red, the photographs will be edged in teal blue with the page heading appearing in a block of yellow. An arrow cuts into the image drawing the eye to an enlightening caption.
Super Sniffers: Dog Detectives On The Job written by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent is a captivating introduction into the fascinating world of dogs' smelling powers. Not only will readers gain awareness of the topic but perhaps they might be interested enough to pursue a career as a trainer or handler. Patent includes books and websites for Further Reading and Surfing. Her acknowledgments identify those who helped her in the writing of this title.
For more information about Dorothy Hinshaw Patent please follow the link to her official website embedded in her name.
My review is based upon an F & G copy received from my favorite independent book store, McLean & Eakin Booksellers located in Petoskey, Michigan. My personal copy is on order there. I hope you will purchase a copy from your local indie book store or seek one out at your local public library.
Yet again due to my participation in Alyson Beecher's 2014 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted at her blog, Kid Lit Frenzy, my knowledge about a topic has grown. Please follow the link to her site to read about other nonfiction titles selected by bloggers this week.