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Extended Audio Sample Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search and Rescue Dog Audiobook, by Susannah Charleson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,218 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Susannah Charleson Narrator: Susannah Charleson Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2010 ISBN: 9781455197019
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In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, Susannah Charleson clipped a photo from the newspaper: an exhausted canine handler, face buried in the fur of his search-and-rescue dog. A dog lover and pilot with search experience herself, Susannah was so moved by the image that 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, she adopted Puzzle, a strong, bright Golden Retriever puppy who exhibited unique aptitudes 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 Missing is the story of Susannah and Puzzle’s adventures together and of 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Riveting…All dog lovers should read this book.”

    Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make Us Human

  • “In this celebration of the human-animal bond, a fascinating woman has written eloquently about her fascinating colleague, Puzzle. I loved this book.”

    Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs

  • “In this haunting meditation on trust, hope and love, Charleson chronicles her work as a handler with Dallas’ canine search-and-rescue team. A mesmerizing close-up of dogs trained to sniff for human scent, the book also celebrates Charleson’s extraordinary partnership with Puzzle, her golden retriever. Whether describing finding a missing child in an air duct or searching for survivors amid the debris of the Columbia space shuttle, Charleson’s prose is palpably alive, showing how each job, like life, entails placing ‘one foot before another, hoping for good but prepared for grief, and following the dog ahead anyhow.’”

    People magazine

  • “In Scent of the Missing, Susannah Charleson writes an unforgettable memoir about her work as part of a team of SAR handlers and their dogs. When she makes the decision to get her own canine partner, Puzzle, a rambunctious, delightful, and very smart Golden Retriever pup enters her life. With singular wit, charm, and a deep understanding of dogs, Charleson’s story about Puzzle and their long road together toward a fully collaborative partnership is a revelation and a joy.”

    Bark magazine

  • “When a flight instructor volunteers with a canine Search and Rescue (SAR) team, it won’t be long until she trains a SAR dog of her own. Susannah Charleson’s narration of her own memoir is a fascinating account of both learning to work on a SAR team and learning to train her golden retriever, Puzzle. Charleson doesn’t flinch from describing her challenges in working with a high-drive puppy, whether those challenges result in happy success or frustrating fumbles with her very smart dog. Throughout, we hear in her voice her ability to remain calm and focused, with her eyes on the goal. Dog-loving listeners will instantly empathize with Charleson, and smile at her portrayals of Puzzle’s vocabulary.” 

    AudioFile

  • “The unique dynamic between man and ‘man’s best friend’ is passionately explored…The honing of supreme nose-driven skills, trailing and tracking capability, rappelling from heights, water and fire rescues and human-remains detection are all key abilities for Puzzle, yet Charleson also had to train herself with equal determination. While the common threads of canine companionship and humane compassion run consistently through the book, the author wisely grounds her journey in reality, writing that SAR work is serious business and ‘not a hobby or a Sunday pastime.’ An inspiring collection of rescue tales ideal for dog lovers and armchair detectives.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Humans have long used dogs, with their remarkable scenting abilities, to find lost, injured, or dead people. However, recent tragedies and disasters—9/11, Hurricane Katrina—have brought search-and-rescue recovery to the forefront. Charleson introduces us to this world as she trains her dog Puzzle to work with Dallas’ elite Metro Area Rescue K9 unit. Interspersed with stories of such routine activities as housebreaking and walking on a leash are the hold-your-breath moments when the author describes actual rescue/recovery missions such as the shuttle Columbia explosion. Verdict: This memorable tribute to the dedication of these dog–handler teams is an essential read for dog lovers.”

    Library Journal

  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 T Barber | 2/16/2014

    " I picked this up in an airport and read it on a flight to China. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kat | 2/12/2014

    " LOVED this book! These are some seriously amazing people. And amazing dogs, too! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ellen | 2/11/2014

    " Very enjoyable book. Talked about the choosing and training of a dog for search and rescue. How the author so closely watched her dog during training, she could tell from the different nose positions what kind of sniffing the dog was doing. Susannah talked about helping with the search for the remains of the astronauts from the space shuttle that blew up over Texas. She talked about the training of her dog, what went on in her household with her pet dogs. I did enjoy the story. Read it in 2 days. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Roberta | 1/19/2014

    " What a book....to choose and train a search and rescue dog and then do the job. Well worth the read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nancy Hoetker | 1/3/2014

    " A fascinating look at the world of search & rescue dogs and their handlers. This is the nonfiction story of a woman who raises and trains an SAR dog from puppyhood. Dog lovers and non-dog-lovers alike will enjoy this story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Raissa | 12/31/2013

    " This is one of the better of the zillion "dog" books out there. I like it because it has heart without being just mush and there is little to no anthropomorphizing. It is really well organized with some really interesting stuff about the search for the Space Shuttle Columbia parts after that disaster and good information on the serious training that goes into Search and Rescue as well as the risks the dogs and handlers take doing it. The training described seems sound and real. I just really enjoyed this book, and I have picked up a lot of "dog" books without finishing them....... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michelle R. | 12/27/2013

    " An interesting story of a woman's relationship with her search and rescue dog. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Les Shigley | 12/13/2013

    " Author is an amazing writer and story teller. If you are not a fan of dogs, may not be the book for you "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharon | 11/13/2013

    " Interesting to learn about the training and dedication involved in search and rescue with dogs . I laughed multiple times when she imagines what her dogs are saying. I was glad to read a dog book which didn't end with the dog dying. A great read for dog lovers! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Crystal | 9/9/2013

    " This book was pretty interesting to me. I almost trained my German Shepard to be a search and rescue dog years ago and this made me want to do it again "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kalena | 7/7/2013

    " The writing and stories found in this book made it easy to read. The insight we are given to people and beloved dogs who perform search and rescue made me appreciate them more. I did not want this book to end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andrea Johnson | 12/23/2012

    " Such a well-written account of the life and times of a search and rescue dog. Ms. Charleson describes Puzzle's thoughts and actions with incredible canine hilarity. I have never laughed so much while reading a book. Heartwarming. One of the best books I've ever read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Beth | 2/11/2012

    " Great book for all dog lovers!!! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shelley | 1/16/2012

    " Great book about Search and Rescue dogs and their training. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jim O'Hare | 12/30/2011

    " A very nice tone and pace to this book, similar to a well-managed search. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jill | 9/18/2011

    " Naturally, I think dog people will like this one more, but she writes well. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robin Yaklin | 8/17/2011

    " Puzz is a real-life rescue dog and Susannah is the real thing as well. A beautiful and sensitive account that takes us behind the scenes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Merceda | 5/23/2011

    " Good story line. Really makes one think about the training and devotion that people and their rescue dogs have to a volunteer field. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kimboo | 5/1/2011

    " Fascinating and very well written account of the life of an SAR dog handler, from her decision to become a handler to finding the right dog to learning what it takes to do SAR. Engrossing read, which I highly recommend. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Devin | 4/25/2011

    " Ths book was awesome! I could not put this book down! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Deb | 4/9/2011

    " I wish the stories were more complete. What happened after the searches? It was well written but I kept feeling I was missing so much of the story of search. It was all about the dogs. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 3/21/2011

    " Knew training a rescue dog was a lot of wrk, but really enjoyed reading about what all is involved. I loved one of the volunteer's comment that to be in search and rescue you have to have a flexible idea of what makes a good weekend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenn | 3/10/2011

    " Great read. Nicely written with humor. I usually read book about animals being rescued. This was a nice opposite, where this team trains to find people. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jackie | 2/23/2011

    " A wonderfully written story about search and rescue dogs. Charleson did a great job documenting the growth of the relationship between her and her dog. "Watching" her as she trained a successful S&R dog was memorable and exciting. I laughed with her, I cried with her. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 T | 2/1/2011

    " I picked this up in an airport and read it on a flight to China. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle | 1/23/2011

    " I really enjoyed this book about search and rescue dogs. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pam | 1/20/2011

    " Excellent biography of a woman who volunteers to work with and train a search & rescue dog. Wonderful narration detail all the work involved in training the dog and the handlers. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 1/15/2011

    " Wonderful book!! Lots of interesting things about search and rescue, amusing anecdotes about dogs, and moving human interest stories. Good writer! Made me laugh and cry "

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About the Author

Susannah Charleson is the author of the New York Times bestseller Scent of the Missing, as well as a flight instructor, service dog trainer, and canine search-and-rescue team member.