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More Search and Rescue Reading

Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog

In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, Susannah Charleson clipped a photo from the newspaper: an exhausted K9 handler, face buried in the fur of his search-and-rescue dog. A dog-lover and pilot with SAR experience herself, Susannah was so moved by the image she decided to volunteer with a local canine team and soon discovered firsthand the long hours, nonexistent pay, and often heart-wrenching results they face.

Still she felt the call, and once she qualified to train a dog of her own, Susannah adopted Puzzle, a strong, bright Golden Retriever puppy who exhibited unique aptitude as a working dog but who was less interested in the role of compliant house pet. Puzzle's willfulness and high drive, both assets in the field, challenged even Susannah, who had raised dogs for years.

Scent of the Missingis the story of Susannah and Puzzle's adventures together and the close relationship they forge as they search for the lost--a teen gone missing, an Alzheimer's patient wandering in the cold, signs of the crew amid the debris of the space shuttle Columbia disaster. From the earliest air-scent lessons to her final mastery of whole-body dialog, Puzzle emerges as a fully collaborative partner in a noble enterprise that unfolds across the forests, plains, and cityscapes of the Southwest. Along the way, Susannah and Puzzle learn to read the clues in the field and in each other, to accomplish together the critical work neither could do alone and to unravel the mystery of the human/canine bond.

Susannah Charleson is a member of MARK-9, a canine search and rescue team based in Dallas, Texas. Flying SAR and crime scene photography for local law enforcement led Susannah, a flight instructor and commercial pilot, to join the team.

Another recommended SAR book is Mountain Responderby Steve Achelis, who, as a member of Salt Lake County Search and Rescue Team, participated in hundreds of rescues that frequently made the evening news.

In a review in the July, 2010, issue of Mountain Rescue Magazine, SAR volunteer and ski patroler Julie Harrell writes, "Steve recreates each story starting with a pager message which is generally not a correct relay of information. Two missing hikers could morph into three Korean climbers who fell down a snow covered slide and are stuck in a snow cave, hoping for rescue while a blizzard rages outside. We follow him as he trudges through dangerous avalanche country, treats many fallen victims, uncovers seemingly innocuous injuries only to discover that they are life-threatening, and teaches us how to be better rescuers through his assumptions, successes and near mistakes. He collaborates, leads, follows, honors and shares everything with his rescue team, giving each of them a lot of personal credit throughout the book."

Mountain Responderis available on Amazon.

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