Reviewed by Antonella Townsend
Hairy humans, best known as dogs, are such pleasant people. In her new book, Dogs with Jobs, Laura introduces the reader to some outstandingly clever dogs so typical of their species. Without indulging in a finger-wagging lecture, Laura gently suggests that dogs are a gift that humans may not deserve. It is easy to heartily agree; if a human exhibited half the love, compassion, and devotion of most dogs they would achieve sainthood in their own lunchtime!
Within the twenty-four chapters of this book there are some great characters along with a gallery of photographs. Here’s a small sample from a large pool of talent.
There’s Viking, the arson dog, who can, from considerable distance, detect a drop of petrol. Figo, a guide dog put his own life on the line to protect his owner. A mini bus careered around a corner, as he and his sixty-four year old owner were midway across the road. Figo’s reaction was to attack, biting the mini bus tyres. He nearly died saving the life of his owner. You might need a tissue or two when reading this one.
Molly Polly, a breathtakingly clever Australian silky Terrier, is both a diabetes alert and mental health support dog. She takes her dual roles in her stride, accompanying her twin girls to school. The twins have Type 1 Diabetes; it is Molly Polly’s job to detect sugar highs or lows, which she does with amazing accuracy. This clever little dog also knows how to comfort the girls during an anxiety attack. Acquiring a dog trained to do this work costs a small fortune, so Molly Polly’s owner, Adrienne, trained her with the help of a video purchased from the Diabetic Alert Dog University (DADU) in the USA. The ten-week course was completed in six weeks! Needless to say, Molly Polly is a treasured member of the family.
Puppy Tuna had been callously dumped on the side of the road outside San Diego before he found his forever home with Courtney Dasher. Tuna has a pronounced underbite, a wrinkly neck, and bulbous eyes; in a human this would probably lead to a successful career as comedian. Courtney, so proud of her little chap, began posting photos on Instagram for the benefit of her friends and family, and before long, Tuna, as they say, went viral. Managing Tuna’s fame is a full time job for Courtney.
The chapter ‘Lexie and Fly: Stock Guardians’, details the life and times of two Maremmas, or Abruzzese Sheepdogs. These dogs are remarkable, not really suitable as pets in the average home, rather they are highly intelligent, independent working dogs. This chapter really illustrates the difference between breeds and the enormous scope of the species. Maremmas will protect any animal if introduced when young, from penguins to farm stock; they are a fox’s worst enemy. Laura advises prospective owners to research and understand the breed thoroughly.
Kate Henning and husband Simon Dunstone took an on-line questionnaire in order to research which breed would be compatible with their lifestyle. The result came up as the Samoyed. Their Samoyed Dogs became ambassadors, hosts and hostesses in Kate and Simon’s microbrewery and restaurant ‘Smiling Samoyed’. This story illustrates how much dogs understand and want to participate in their environment as fellow workers. And these Samoyed Dogs were so very good at charming customers and promoting the brewery.
Emma, the German Short Haired Pointer, whose ability to sniff out feral fox dens, even if underground, is incredible. She can also tell the difference between fox scat and possum poo. It is essential that the feral animals, particularly foxes, be eliminated as they are causing the extinction of many species in Australia. Brisbane is very lucky to have Emma on the job!
Frankie, a Labrador, makes traumatised children smile at the hospice where she works. This is a heart-warming chapter that shows how brilliant dogs are at working with stressed humans an emotional level. Like Holly the greyhound, beginning life on the racetrack, then given to a vet when her racing days were over and obliged as a blood donor before the organisation Friends of the Hound, found a home with Petra and Tom. At this point Holly became a Story Dog. Apparently, children struggling with reading improve greatly if reading to a laid back dog like Holly.
There are so many amazing dogs detailed in Dogs with Jobs, – To quote Laura – ‘they understand us so well’. I hope this book inspires readers of all ages to put in the effort to understand and deserve our precious dog friends.
Dogs with Jobs, twenty-four amazing dog stories, with photographs, is heart-warming and educational. Highly recommended as a great book for all ages.
Penguin Random House Australia
ISBN: 9780143784807 – paperback