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The Dog Patrol: Our Canine Companions and the Kids Who Protect Them

by Rob Laidlaw

Welcoming a pet into your family is a serious commitment and The Dog Patrol offers a comprehensive training manual, specifically designed for kids, on responsible guardianship. Rob Laidlaw, a Silver Birch Award–winning author, biologist, and founder of the wildlife protection organization Zoocheck, expertly delivers practical advice in a calm, friendly tone. Opening chapters provide a concise overview of canine evolution, biology, and behaviour. Attention then focuses on factors to consider when choosing a dog. Checklists offer valuable insight into the differences between reputable breeders and exploitive puppy mills, and outline specific policies and procedures of good animal shelters. With honesty and directness, Laidlaw emphasizes the importance of due diligence: “The information you collect might convince you not to get a dog, but that’s okay. If you can’t meet a dog’s needs, it’s probably best to wait.”

Once the animal comes home, the hard work continues. The action-oriented text endorses reward-based puppy training techniques, recommends alternatives to crating, and gives reasons to keep dogs unchained. Laidlaw’s healthy and humane stance is also reflected in the numerous vibrant, high-energy photographs of dogs playing and cuddling with their humans. A gorgeous Jack Russell terrier is the centrefold, with anatomical features – like withers, forefeet, and stifle – labelled and described.

Interspersed throughout the chapters are inspiring “Dog Patrol” profiles of youth from around the world who are taking steps to improve the well-being of animals. For example, 11-year-old Willow Phelps fundraises, volunteers at a shelter, and fosters chronically ill and elderly dogs and cats. Sidebars supply extra tidbits of information, including a medical study that reveals specially trained dogs have the ability to sniff out cancer 93 per cent of the time. Good news stories – such as a “K9 Cop for a Day” program that promotes dog adoptions – are described in “PAWSitively PAWSitive” snippets.

Laidlaw, one of Canada’s most dedicated and respected authorities on animal welfare, provides effective leadership training for young advocates in this essential resource.