Review Detail

Kids Fiction 513
Training a Search and Rescue Dog
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
When a house fire endangers a litter of yellow lab puppies and their mother, they are saved from their hiding spot under the house. One of the firefighters, Marcus, takes a shine to one of the puppies, Ember, but doesn't feel that he can adopt another dog, since he currently has an older one at home. Ember gets put up for adoption and struggles through three placements that don't work out due to her energy. When she returns to the shelter, the worker contacts a Search and Rescue dog facility, the Sterling Center, to ask if they would be interested. Roxanne and Martin, who run the center with their family, agrees to try Ember out. Children Forrest and Morgan are very excited to be part of her training; Forrest already works a lot with the dogs, and younger Morgan has read up on them extensively. Juniper is more interested in her cat, Twig. Ember is a great dog, and grateful to be with a family who does not yell at her, but training for SAR is very particular, and Ember struggles with certain aspects of it, such as being distracted. Still, the family continues training, even when challenges arise, such as Twig going missing. Will Ember be able to pass her tests, and will she be able to work with the firefighter from her past if she is assigned to him?
Good Points
Dog stories, especially ones that feature working dogs in action-packed story lines, have been more popular in recent years, and this is a great addition to books of this genre. The training is well described, and the path to becoming a Search and Rescue dog isn't always smooth. Ember's experiences with other families before coming to the Sterling Center highlights the fact that it's important to match high energy dogs with families who understand their need for purpose and exercise!

The Sterlings are an interesting family, and watching them work together on the ranch is enlightening. The day-to-day challenges of feeding and cleaning up after animals is addressed, and my favorite scene was where Morgan, desperate to help out, takes over some of her brother's more onerous chores in a bid to be assigned more work! Doing the grunt work isn't always pleasant, but it can certainly be more rewarding, and I love stories that show this to young readers.

This centers mainly on Ember's training, but does have some Search and Rescue scenes that add some excitement, and Twig's disappearance adds an air of mystery as well.
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