Trustworthy. Compassionate. Brave. Unrelenting. These are the words which describe the four-footed helpers in the book Loyal: 38 Inspiring Tales of Bravery, Heroism, and the Devotion of Dogs by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh. Whether our canine companions are comforting people who have experienced a trauma, or acting as a medical alert dog for a child with severe allergies, our canines daily provide unique services to us that surpass our imagination. There is more to the scope of the types of services for dogs, as Ascher-Walsh makes us realize.

One of the featured dogs in her book, Ali, provides a unique service for the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology. An Australian cattle dog mix, Ali is tasked with locating endangered species for identification and study – even if it happens to be a frog underwater or a Pacific pocket mouse hiding in the underbrush. Her exceptional skill has allowed her to recognize 300 individual samples, which helps in monitoring many of our endangered species.

After reading how many of the dogs introduced in Loyal had a rough start themselves, there is the realization that these discarded dogs, or shelter pups, have overcome obstacles in their own history to give us an outpouring of affection and dedication, always in our direction.

Given a task, dogs are usually eager to attempt it to please the owner or trainer. Most of the dogs described in this book needed a bit of training to assist in a particular role, but the everyday pet owner doesn’t need to be left out. There are some basic training techniques which can be a great option if you wish your pet to socialize better with people and other dogs. The author provides a sample of the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Training & Testing as a resource to pursue.

For further reading, related titles would include Extraordinary Dogs by Liz Stavrinides, The Dog With The Old Soul by Jennifer Basye Sander or Haatchi & Little B  by Wendy Holden.


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