Cat Warren is a university professor and former journalist with an admittedly odd hobby: She and her German shepherd have spent the last seven years searching for the dead. Solo is a cadaver dog. What started as a way to harness Solo's unruly energy and enthusiasm soon became a calling that introduced Warren to the hidden and fascinating universe of working dogs, their handlers, and their trainers.
Solo has a fine nose and knows how to use it, but he's only one of many thousands of working dogs all over the United States and beyond. In What the Dog Knows, Warren uses her ongoing work with Solo as a way to explore a captivating field that includes cadaver dogs, drug- and bomb-detecting K9s, tracking and apprehension dogs – even dogs who can locate unmarked graves of Civil War soldiers and help find drowning victims more than two hundred feet below the surface of a lake. Working dogs' abilities may seem magical or mysterious, but Warren shows the multifaceted science, the rigorous training, and the skilled handling that underlie the amazing abilities of dogs who work with their noses.
Warren interviews cognitive psychologists, historians, medical examiners, epidemiologists, and forensic anthropologists, as well as the breeders, trainers, and handlers who work with and rely on these remarkable and adaptable animals daily. Along the way, she discovers story after story that proves the impressive capabilities – as well as the very real limits – of working dogs and their human partners. Clear-eyed and unsentimental, Warren explains why our partnership with dogs is woven into the fabric of society and why we keep finding new uses for their wonderful noses.
"What the Dog Knows is a fascinating, deeply reported journey into scent, death, forensics and the amazing things dogs can do with their noses: sniffing out graves, truffles, bedbugs, maybe even cancer. But it's also a moving story of how one woman transformed her troubled dog into a loving companion and an asset to society, all while stumbling on the beauty of life in their searches for death."
– Rebecca Skloot, The New York Times Book Review
"It you have ever loved a dog, you must read this book. I loved it!"
– Robert Crais, author of Suspect
"A personal, informed account of the myths and truths of working dogs."
– Los Angeles Times
"Masterfully shows how even the best technology cannot compete with our best friends. If you have ever wondered what dogs are truly capable of, this is the book for you."
– Brian Hare, author of The Genius of Dogs
"A book for anyone who loves dogs, and has watched them catch a scent on the wind or in the leaves on the ground and wondered about that brilliant organ they possess: the nose."
– Virginia Morell, author of Animal Wise
"A meaty, fascinating tour of not only what led humans to train dogs to sniff drugs, bombs and dead bodies but also the science behind why dogs can be good at these tasks."
– Raleigh News & Observer
"Warren writes with verve and provides rare insight into our working partnership with canines."
– Kirkus Reviews
"A beautifully written, fascinating, heartwarming, and oft-hilarious homage to working dogs."
– Maria Goodavage, author of Soldier Dogs
"It's a lively read, rich with details on the exhausting and rewarding process of training a working dog, but in the end, you realize that the process is really about bonding in a way that transcends – or perhaps sidesteps knowing."
– Natural History
"This moving account is one of the most engaging and fascinating books you will read, and the perfect gift for the dog lover in your family."
– Canberra Weekly