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Soldier Dogs

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,560 ratings  ·  263 reviews
A leading dog-blogger offers a tour of military working dogs' extraordinary training, heroic accomplishments, and the lasting impacts they have on those who work with them.
People all over the world have been riveted by the story of Cairo, the Belgian Malinois who was a part of the Navy SEAL team that led the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound. A dog's natural intelligenc
Hardcover, First Edition, 304 pages
Published March 15th 2012 by Dutton (first published 2012)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,560 ratings  ·  263 reviews

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Woman Reading
3.5 stars - serving as bravely as their human counterparts

Soldier Dogs presents the history of the MWD ("military working dog") program and the MWD's career from beginning to end. Sergeant Stubby was the earliest MWD as this pitbull was smuggled aboard a ship to Europe by his owner-soldier to become the troop's mascot during WWI. For making life-saving alerts to his troop, Stubby received tremendous publicity upon his return home and his preserved body is displayed at the Smithsonian American
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One day a Dear friend Erin told me about your book. I can’t remember the reason why, she suggested it, but she said it was a great book. So I read a little about it online and purchased it. It was an amazing book, filled with educ
ational information mixed with life stories and experiences. I am pretty sure I finished it in a weekend, I couldn’t put it down. Once it was over, I felt like I needed to know more. So I went back to my friend and she mentioned that she had a Malinois puppy who was sol
Mar 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: animals
The cover of this book screamed out to me at the Fort Lauderdale Airport-buy me. And I did. A cursory look was intriguing with color photos and it appeared to be pure fluff. Imagine my surprise that it was quite comprehensive and covered a lot of diverse ground about our war dogs in Iraq and Afghanistan-but it doesn't have an index, although there is a great bibliography. It should be called Lackland 101-at times it's a great summary of a field manual and an executive summary of the bureaucracy ...more
Janastasia Whydra
Apr 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
Maria Goodavage is not an author, but a blogger and her book, "Soldier Dogs," reads like a collection of blogs. I found the content of the book to be interesting. Her anecdotes range from humorous to depressing, but I don't think the informative-blog style of writing is engaging enough to move a reader to laugh or cry. I wish Goodavage had edited this book more thoroughly. Each chapter was short like a typical blog. Often I wished she had condensed the information that had been spread over sever ...more
Cait S
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this! And for me to make that statement about a non-fiction book... I mean, I really enjoyed it.

I think it would have been incredibly easy for this to lose all of its emotional impact by being bogged down in military terminology and facts, but that never happened. Even though the portions of the book focusing on individual dogs were often short they came at just the right pacing to keep things interesting and to bring the reader back in. My only big complaint is that those porti
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Subject close to my heart as a former EDD handler. The author did a great job capturing the feelings that handlers have toward their partners. The bond is hard to describe and for the current generation of handlers that have put their lives and fellow soldiers lives into their dogs care it is probably impossible.
She really did a great job describing the training. Reading what the instructors said and did was as if my old instructors were talking to me. If you want a better understanding of mili
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
These amazing dogs and their handlers are true heroes. I was taken by what they said about how a dog will sacrifice, defend, and do it’s job, no matter how dangerous. All for a Kong or a ball to play with, and some praise and a pat on the head or belly.
Mar 28, 2012 rated it liked it
I first heard about this book when Maria Goodavage was on The Daily Show promoting it. She was a great guest and really sold me on it. Well, I wish the book was as good as her time on the show. Although it was an interesting read, I really didn't like the format of how it was written. It was kind of all over the place with no consistent narrative. It's more along the lines of this happened here, and that happened there as she weaves in and out of different Handler/Dog teams.

But for me, even thou
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dog-books, favorites
A fascinating book whether you're a dog lover or not. I'd always wondered how the dogs were chosen and then trained to sniff out narcotics or bombs, how their handlers were chosen, what happened to those dogs when they were unable to perform and I'm not embarrassed to say the last two chapters were weepy ones. Goodavage did a thorough job on research and gave detailed reports of her interviews with various researchers, DOD contacts and the legendary trainer Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Kristoph ...more
Elliott Steere
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hummanities
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
I assumed that since I'm an overall animal lover and dog enthusiast that I would be enthralled by this book. That was not the case. Perhaps my expectations were too high or mislead by the synopsis of the book but I was minorly disappointed.  In addition to that after reading a few chapters I was no longer compelled to finish this book. Only through determination to keep with my Goodreads' goals was I able to motivate myself to pick this book up and finish it.

Reading other review's the biggest co
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Well, I really really wanted to love this book. I love dogs, I love reading about the things dogs can do and how humanity has really underutilized their capabilities...but I could not wait for this book to be over. It wasn't bad, exactly, it was just pretty superficial. I guess the author started by writing a blog, and it really felt like a bunch of blog posts sometimes vaguely tied together, but frequently not, in a row. Then occasionally there would be repetition, which really irritated me. It ...more
Apr 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, dogs
If you are a dog lover, you will appreciate this book. It is about military working dogs. I heard about this book on Jon Stewart's show and when I saw how emotional he got talking about it, I knew I had to check it out. He, too, is a dog person. These dogs are trained in a variety of ways, mostly to detect explosives, IEDs in particular. According to the Goodavage, they are not just saving the lives of our troops, they help the civilian populations too. When an IED is planted near a village, the ...more
Both information-packed and very moving. The author spent a lot of time with military working dogs and their trainers and handlers at schools around the U.S. and in Afghanistan. The result is a great history and portrayal of what these dogs and the people who work with them do and how they do it.
I knew one Marine who'd been a dog handler in Vietnam; twenty years later, he still had his dog's portrait on his office wall, and he couldn't talk about him without getting choked up.
I was impressed by
Thoroughly enjoyed this book! Wow! I learned a lot, more than I ever realized, about military working dogs (MWD) through this book. It is a fascinating report on the MWD program, touching a bit on its origins through to present day. The author mostly focuses on the dogs and handlers of modern day battles, but does report on the MWDs and handlers of past wars. There is coverage of the whole program from how the dogs are selected, to their "boot camp," to working with handlers and receiving combat ...more
Izzy W
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Soldier Dogs by Maria Goodavage is a heart-warming book of our soldier dog heroes who save lives every day. The book is very powerful. The strengths is the friendship between the dog and the soldier. For example, Army Corporal Kory Wiens called his mine-detection dog Cooper “my son” he bought Cooper all kinds of toys and let him sleep with him on his cot. The weakness is how unfair the book is and how sad it is. For example, some dogs and handlers have to get separated and get new handlers and ...more
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it

Soldier Dogs is a fascinating account of the history of war dogs and the effects of combat exposure on both dog and handlers. Along the way we meet several active and retired soldier dogs as Goodavage weaves in their stories while providing a backdrop of their training and war-time experiences. It is clear that the dogs are much more than the "equipment" label given to them by our military, as readers experience story after story of the battlefield bravery and heroism of these four-legged sold
Jul 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was very disappointed in this book. It could have been good. The stories had potential. But the author's writing is all over the place and it needs some major editing. I don't know if this person has ever written another book, but if not she should stop with this one. I have read that she's a blogger, not an author. It's very obvious in this book. It's a shame she didn't know that books do not read like blogs as this could have been a very good book if it was put together properly. It was a go ...more
Apr 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
As a dog lover I still become amazed at what dogs will and can do. Amazing stories. A few disturbing parts at the end of what happens to dogs that come back from the war and are too aggressive to go home with their soldier partner. Completely understandable. It broke my heart to learn that dogs can get PTSD also but I have heard that about search and rescue dogs. If they do not find a person alive or at all they get depressed.

I am making it sound like it was depressing but it was not. Dogs are a
Teresa Raetz
Aug 09, 2012 rated it liked it
The subject is fascinating and the bravery of the dogs and their soldier handlers is inspiring. I only rated it three stars because the author's writing style doesn't do the subject justice. She bounces around between superficial bits of the stories, gives little history of the dogs, people, or the subject of dogs in combat, she inserts herself into the story too much, and there's no overarching narrative or structure. The subject of the book is interesting enough and dog lovers will like this i ...more
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this audio book, although I am thinking that with all the acronyms used, it may be more conducive to read in print format. I liked that there were different sections, with different areas of focus. It was interesting to learn more about the Military Working Dog program, but I was also glad that there was a section devoted to the dogs and their handlers. This was an interesting book; a huge thank you to those in the military (both 2 and 4 legged) who put their lives on the line to prote ...more
Jul 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
audio book - I was expecting stories of dogs and soldiers in action. While having some of those stories, this book delves into how the dogs are chosen and trained, cared for and treated at the end of their careers. It's not surprising to hear how strong the bond is between the handlers and their dogs, how much they want to do for the dogs and how much they feel the dogs do for them. I'll admit to getting teary listening to some of the stories. A different look at this subject. ...more
Mar 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dogs, modern-military
This is the book to read if you want to learn anything about the military war dogs and their handlers! Very interesting! I started listening to the book on audio and, although packed full of info, I didn't like the narrator (which I think is actually the author) and enjoyed it much more after switching to the book. ...more
Rose Smithson leeland
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It shows how much the k9s and their handlers go through to train and save lives. The bond between the dogs and their partners is amazing. These dogs are selfless, courageous, & more patriotic than most people.
Jun 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
I ordered this after seeing the author on TV, and I couldn't have been more disappointed. Disjointed and disorganized, she makes a mess of what should be very interesting material. ...more
Loved this book. Shows an inside look into the military and police K-9 program. 10 out of 10
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Such a good book about these hero dogs and their handlers. I've always been fascinated by them since I read books about dogs used in Vietnam by the military when I was a young adult. It always broke my heart that tho dogs used in Vietnam weren't brought back home to the U.S. Most were euthanized. Today most dogs come back to the U.S. after their tours of duty overseas. I am disappointed, however, that the government still considers dogs as equipment. That effects so many things when it comes to ...more
Lis Carey
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maria Goodavage, like many people, became seriously interested in Military Working Dogs after hearing about Cairo, the dog who was part of the mission to get Osama bin Laden. She thought that surely this wouldn't be a hard subject to investigate; after all, these are dogs, not not nuclear weapons or stealth fighters.

It turns out that this is a very challenging area to investigate, precisely because these are "just dogs" and dogs who are in many ways quite secret. In many ways, in many places, th
Kain M.
Mar 23, 2018 rated it liked it
"Soldier Dogs" by Maria Goodavage is a informational book about how dogs are bought, trained, and what they do for the military. Most of the book is informational and descriptive so there is not many characters, but she does mention two dogs named Fenji and Lars, along with their handlers Donahue and Frost. She does not go into much detail about the handlers but plenty when it comes to the dogs. Fenji is a black German Shepard that detects IEDs, she loves her handler and loves playing with a kon ...more
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
"I had looked on, unmoved, at battles...Tearless, I had given orders which brought death to thousands. Yet here I was, stirred, profoundly stirred, stirred to tears. And by what? The grief of one dog."

These words were written by Napoleon Bonaparte describing his experience during the Battle of Castiglione in 1796 of a dog mourning over soldier. A similar touching story can be found in the book about George Washington returning British General William Howes lost terrier. Dogs, over history, have
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