Reviews

“Trust the Dog”
Times Union, June 10, 2010.
“The book is beautifully written, with tangible suspense, visceral details, and bits of the author’s personal experiences that both enlighten and warm the search vignettes.”

“Dog and human learn to trust in ‘Scent of the Missing'”
USA TODAY, May 6, 2010.

“Scent of the Missing”
Caroline Leavitt, People Magazine, May 3, 2010.

In this haunting meditation on trust, hope and love, Charleson chronicles her work as a handler with Dallas’ canine search-and-rescue team. A mesmerizing close-up of dogs trained to sniff for human scent, the book also celebrates Charleson’s extraordinary partnership with Puzzle, her golden retriever. Whether describing finding a missing child in an air duct or searching for survivors amid the debris of the Columbia space shuttle, Charleson’s prose is palpably alive, showing how each job, like life, entails placing “one foot before another, hoping for good but prepared for grief, and following the dog ahead anyhow.”

“SCENT OF THE MISSING: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog'”
Book Reporter, May 2010.

“Dallas volunteer takes readers on narrative romp with rescue dog”
Joy Tipping, The Dallas Morning News, April 25, 2010.

“Scent of the Missing”
Ranny Green, “Picks of the Litter,” Seattle Kennel Club, April 1, 2010.

“Running a search-and-rescue dog probes depths of love”
Jane Van Der Voort, “Toronto Star,”, April 19, 2010.

Library Journal, February 1, 2010 (starred review)
Charleson, Susannah. Scent of the Missing: Love & Partnership with a Search and Rescue Dog. Houghton Harcourt. Apr. 2010. c.304p. photogs. ISBN 978-0-547-15244-8. $26. PETS

Humans have long used dogs, with their remarkable scenting abilities, to find lost, injured, or dead people. However, recent tragedies and disasters—9/11, Hurricane Katrina—have brought search-and-rescue recovery to the forefront. Charleson introduces us to this world as she trains her dog Puzzle to work with Dallas’s elite Metro Area Rescue K9 unit. Interspersed with stories of such routine activities as housebreaking and walking on a leash are the hold-your-breath moments when the author describes actual rescue/recovery missions such as the shuttle Columbia explosion. VERDICT This memorable tribute to the dedication of these dog-handler teams is an essential read for dog lovers.—EMS

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2010
SCENT OF THE MISSING: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog
The unique dynamic between man and “man’s best friend” is passionately explored by a search-and-rescue dog handler.

Dallas-area Rescue K9 Unit volunteer Charleson shares memories, information and anecdotes, each one representative of a stage in the progression of her police work. In the opening chapters, the author, who had been training for three consecutive years with a local search-and-rescue (SAR) team, trails alongside rescue dogs and their able handlers in cases like the desperate search for a missing child or rummaging through the debris from the disintegrated space shuttle Columbia. The author’s years of experience with the unit soon qualified her to “train and run beside a search dog.” She details her history as a flight instructor introduced to the rescue profession by circumstance and the bittersweet dissolution of her marriage. Soon after her qualification, Charleson accompanied her dog-in-training Puzzle, a bouncy Golden Retriever puppy, on an airline flight, much to the delight of passengers and crew alike. Puzzle’s breed, she notes, is notorious among dog-rescue circles for their “drive, stability, commitment to working with a human, congeniality, and nose.” As Puzzle matured, he began interacting well with the author’s own assortment of pets, but proved somewhat of a challenge at home. However, his intensive rescue training eventually calmed him down. The honing of supreme nose-driven skills, trailing and tracking capability, rappelling from heights, water and fire rescues and human-remains detection are all key abilities for Puzzle, yet Charleson also had to train herself with equal determination. While the common threads of canine companionship and humane compassion run consistently through the book, the author wisely grounds her journey in reality, writing that SAR work is serious business and “not a hobby or a Sunday pastime.”

An inspiring collection of rescue tales ideal for dog lovers and armchair detectives.

Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search and Rescue Dog
Tanya Turgeon. Book Hound: Dogs in Black and White, January 28, 2010.

‘Scent of the Missing’ an extraordinary story of search-and-rescue dogs
Debra McGuire, Wire Editor. Las Vegas Review-Journal, January 4, 2010.

Comments from Other Authors

The transformation of Puzzle the cuddly pup into Puzzle the professional search-and-rescue dog would be story enough, but Susannah Charleson gives us far more. With lean, lovely prose she takes us on a clear-eyed, compassionate journey into a mysterious world in which every story begins as a ghost story. When Charleson turns the search inward, she does so deftly, never straying more than a leash-length from the heart and soul of this book: Puzzle, and the all-too mortal ghosts she seeks.

Michael Perry, author of Population: 485 — Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time, Truck: A Love Story, and Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs,and Parenting


Scent of the Missing is not only a “stay up too late at night” story, it’s a brilliantly written book that should be on every dog lover’s bed stand. Her descriptions of her dogs are laugh out loud funny, and her use of language is so rich I’m not sure if I want to read her book or eat it.

Patricia B. McConnell, author of The Other End of the Leash and For the Love of a Dog


This book is a fantastic discovery! Dog and human decipher each other’s language and behavior to solve the mystery of the missing, and along the way find their bonds of love, trust and friendship grow. I loved this book.

Lynne Cox, author of Swimming to Antarctica and Grayson


A fascinating woman, Susannah Charleson, has written eloquently about her fascinating colleague, a golden retriever named Puzzle, and the critically important search and rescue work that these two faced together. Scent of the Missing is a clear documentation of the ability of search and rescue dogs, and a celebration of the human-animal bond.

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs


A riveting view of both the human animal bond and the training of search and rescue dogs. All dog lovers and people interested in training service dogs should read this book.

Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make us Human and Animals in Translation


Scent of the Missing is heartwarming, heart-achingly poignant, and riveting from page one. Puzzle had me from her first joyous wroo!

Hallie Ephron, author of Never Tell a Lie


SCENT OF THE MISSING contains wonderful writing about dogs and
plenty of powerful, compassionate writing about the community of
mankind. In its telling, it is respectful of life and celebrates the living.

Rick Bass, author of The Lost Grizzlies: A Search for Survivors in the Wilderness of Colorado, The New Wolves: The Return of the Mexican Wolf to the American Southwest and Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had


4 Responses to “Reviews”

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to meeting the author and Puzzle, at the book signing at Book People in Austin, Texas, this Friday, May 28th!

  2. Nadine says:

    Just finishing reading Puzzle’s & Susannah’s book. Excellent writing and bravo to the men & women & canines involved in this type of work – I salute you for all your efforts!

  3. Mary Hayward says:

    I am going to book club tonight, August 26, 2010, and wondered if there was anything “new” that I might report. Loved the book, hope your health is better.

  4. Lily says:

    I’m from Australia and had been waiting for this books release for eons. A very dear and kind friend sent me a copy of this book, autographed and pawtographed.
    Once I started reading it I simply could not stop. It drew me in right from the first chapter. Some parts of the book made me laugh out loud.

    Susannah has a true gift of using words to put a clear and concise picture in the readers mind.
    I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
    Loved it!!!