Friday, December 15, 2017
Fact Friday: Poop Detectives: working dogs in the field by Ginger Wadsworth
Poop Detectives: working dogs in the field by Ginger Wadsworth. 80 p. Charlesbridge Publishering Inc., October, 2016. 9781580786504. (Review from finished copy courtesy of publisher)
This short version was on the morning announcements: If our Fact Friday features doesn't grab your attention, you are not listening to the morning announcements. Poop Detectives: working dogs in the field by Ginger Wadsworth features an up-close and personal photo of a dog's nose on the cover and seven information-packed chapters about how the idea came about, how dogs are trained for the jobs and how they help scientists. Plenty of full-color photographs, of the dogs, not the scat, illustrate how much these dogs love their jobs and their handlers.
Review: Oh man, why did it take so long to get to this book? Sadly, it migrated to the bottom of the pile and sat there until yesterday.
As a dog owner, I know all too well a dog's devotion to scent, especially excrement. If I am not careful, my shepherd will stick his nose up my lab's butt while he's trying to poop! The lab is prone to not only yanking me from one smell to another, but also to pee over where his shepherd brother tinkles.
The title may be playful, but the narrative is all business. (Ha! Pun unintended.) Fun is definitely had in the sub-titles, like, "The Guru of Doo-Doo." The introduction tells the story of Freddie the border collie who was turned into an animal shelter because of his energy demands. His need for engagement and exercise make him almost un-adoptable; that is until a dog trainer who specializes in working with wildlife biologists arrives bouncing a tennis ball. Freddie's laser-sharp concentration on the ball earns him freedom as the qualities that make him a difficult family pet, namely an over-abundance of energy, make for an excellent sniffer dog.
We are quite familiar with working dogs who sniff out bomb materials and drugs. Most will not know how a dog's ability to sniff animal excrement can be useful. It seems scientists can learn a lot about the animal's health by examining scat. But finding scat in the wild often proves elusive. Enter air scenting dogs and scientists are able to find their brown gold.
The book is beautifully designed with plenty of white space and at least one full-color photo on each page. The stock is sturdy and will hold up well to repeated readings as this high-interest topic will demand. The text is engaging and well-organized with seven chapters covering the whys and hows of training these working dogs.
The backmatter is impressive. It includes an author's note, acknowledgements, a photograph depicting what a handler carries in his or her pack; photo credits; a glossary; resources that include books and websites; quotation sources; a selected bibliography and an index.
Poop Detective is perfect for your fact hounds, dog lovers and budding scientists. Display it prominently and it'll circulate widely.