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Welcome to the Dogs Monthly Book Club. Each month we review our pick of the latest releases, with an opportunity to win for lucky readers! If you would like to enter the prize draw, please email competition@dogsmonthly.co.uk with the name of the book you would like to receive in the subject line. Please remember to include your name and full address. Entries close 27 July 2018.

Sherlock the Fire Brigade Dog

Paul Osborne

 

Written by a serving firefighter, this book gives an insight into the life of one of the few of elite fire brigade teams comprising a fire investigator and their hydrocarbon detection dog.

With just over 250 pages of text in a quality hardback format, the book is well presented, and includes two sections of crisp colour photographs showing Sherlock the Cocker Spaniel at work, rest and play.

Paul gives us a fascinating window into his world, not only his work with his much-loved four-legged team-mate, but also how he became a firefighter, how his family life with his wife and two little girls is affected by his sometimes stressful and harrowing work, and how all aspects of his life are enriched by having Sherlock at his side.

We learn of Sherlock’s training and how he was outstanding right from the start at detecting substances which could have been used to deliberately start a fire. The reader is drawn into his world, and we see that despite the serious work, both dog and handler have great fun and enjoy their role immensely.

What really stands out, as well as the humorous and chatty style, is the absolute devotion of handler to dog and vice versa. The reader can really sense Paul’s pride when Sherlock and his colleagues win the 2017 Animal Hero Awards and can share his sheer joy at living and working with a dog like Sherlock.

What It’s Like To Be A Dog – And Other Adventures In Animal Neuroscience

Gregory Berns

Reviewed by Dawn Barsley-Dale

I had no idea what to expect when this book was sent to me, but the title was interesting, as my husband and I are on our first dog and it’s been a steep learning curve. The initial parts of the book describing how they persuaded the dogs to take part in the brain scanning were fascinating while the study of the different personalities of the dogs, and how this affected their behaviour, just showed how what works for one dog is of no interest to another.

However, there is a lot of background on the development of the brain (from scratch) and the history of MRI technology, which can be a bit hard going. The book also touches on sealion, dolphin and Tasmanian tiger (extinct) neuroscience, which was interesting but won’t appeal to everyone, particularly if you expect this book to be purely about dogs.

All in all, I enjoyed the book and the style is chatty and easy-going, but I expected the dog project to be a larger part of the book than it was. There is a lot of science background to get through, but it is necessary to understand what they were doing and how. If you have a good supply of tea and biscuits and enjoy science-based fact, go for it, but if you expect this book to be purely about dogs, I would approach with care.

Smoky the Brave

Damien Lewis

Reviewed by Liz Laker

Damien Lewis has written over 15 books, generally of a military or thriller genre – not something I would usually pick to read. However, I was asked to read and review Smoky the Brave, so put aside my ambivalence towards war-based books and was pleasantly surprised that I thoroughly enjoyed this story.

It is set in February 1944 in the jungles of Papua New Guinea where the Japanese are the enemy and threaten to engulf the area. A tiny dog is found by a GI, terrified and alone, hiding in a shell hole in the jungle. The GI isn’t a dog lover but he shares his tent with fellow GI and dog lover Bill Wynne, who takes on this tiny little scrap of a Yorkshire Terrier and names her Smoky.

The two form an unlikely partnership, Corporal William ‘Bill’ Wynne, an aircrewman with the US 5th Air Force’s 26th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, and Smoky, whose background is a mystery – until the end of the story!

Living in Bill’s tent and sharing his rations, Smoky becomes the mascot of the regiment. She accompanies Wynne on numerous missions and survives dozens of Japanese combat raids on Papua New Guinea. After saving Wynne’s life by warning of a falling shell that killed the eight men standing beside him, he nicknamed her the ‘angel from a foxhole’.

This is a true story of a heroic soldier and his incredibly brave little dog, a dog who has received numerous awards, is the subject of a display in the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog, and is also acknowledged as the world’s first ever therapy dog.

An exciting, enjoyable and heartwarming story, it is a good read even if war-based books are not normally your first choice.

Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun!

Cheryl Murphy

The dogs in this photography book aren’t posing, they’re simply enjoying life. Pictured during playtime, they haven’t a care in the world and this project celebrates their natural zest for life and individual personalities.

Inspired by her late Golden Retriever, Tilly, photographer and author Cheryl Murphy decided to explore photographing dogs in a natural environment with no constraints on their behaviour. Having been a dog owner for many years, she’s well aware of the individual traits and characters our pets have.

This book makes for an ideal gift and coffee table read to flick through. There are plenty of pictures to giggle over, and Cheryl’s dog Nellie’s facial expressions are particularly hilarious.

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