Ex-jour­nal­ist ex­plores na­tion’s Se­cret Ser­vice dogs

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FEATURES - By Kim Cur­tis

“Se­cret Ser­vice Dogs: The He­roes Who Pro­tect the Pres­i­dent of the United States” (Dut­ton), by Maria Goo­davage

Even non-dog lovers will be fas­ci­nated by Maria Goo­davage’s in-depth ex­am­i­na­tion of the highly trained ca­nines and their equally im­pres­sive hu­man han­dlers in “Se­cret Ser­vice Dogs: The He­roes Who Pro­tect the Pres­i­dent of the United States.”

Read­ers are of­fered an un­usual peek into a rar­efied world of in­ter­na­tional in­tel­li­gence and se­cu­rity and the im­por­tant role these spe­cially bred pooches play. Goo­davage en­joyed un­prece­dented ac­cess to the gov­ern­ment’s metic­u­lous train­ing camp as well as to the dogs’ hu­man col­leagues.

In lively, of­ten light­hearted lan­guage, Goo­davage de­scribes the life cy­cle of the pri­mar­ily Bel­gian Mali­nois, of­ten mis­taken for Ger­man shep­herds. She ex­plains how and where they’re bred, se­lected and trained. But most com­pelling: her de­scrip­tions of the agents’ re­la­tion­ship with their dogs. Se­cret Ser­vice han­dlers spend 24/7 with their dogs, form­ing a unique bond.

While the story is well­re­searched and un­usual, the way the book is or­ga­nized feels dis­jointed and repet­i­tive. Per­haps qual­ity suf­fered a bit in the rush to re­lease it in time for the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion?

What’s clear is the win­ner will be pro­tected by some of the na­tion’s best dogs.

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