Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Good Book About a Good Dog

Mom and I recently read a book we liked very much, and it is about a bloodhound named Ronin.  The title of the book is Red Dog Rising, and the author's name is Jeff Schettler.  I think that this book would be a very good one for anyone to read who is interested in dogs.  

What the book is about is how Ronin, who is the hero, was trained by his dad, Jeff, to help the police find bad guys and missing people and do all kinds of interesting work like that.  Remember how I told you in my Labor Day blog entry that there are lots of dogs with Important Jobs?  Well, Ronin was one of those dogs, and the book tells all about how he did his Important Job.

Dogs, like I already told you, have an excellent sense of smell.  A dog can smell things hundreds of times better than a human can.  This is why dogs can be used to sniff out drugs and cancer and bombs and stuff like that.  Also dogs can be used to follow the scent of game animals or human animals.  Bloodhounds are especially good at trailing people, which is why they have been used to do this job for many centuries.  But in order for a bloodhound or any other dog to do this job properly, it has to be trained how to stay focused on a certain person's scent and not get distracted by cats or whatever.

Mom says that she learned a lot about the properties of scent and how dogs follow it from reading Red Dog Rising.  Of course, I already know all this kind of stuff because I am a dog, and I can follow any trail I'm interested in.  But did you know that there is a difference between "tracking" and "trailing"?  Well, there is, and this is all explained in the book, so you should read it to find out what the difference is.

The man who wrote the book, Mr. Schettler, used to be a police officer, but he's not one now because he hurt his knee really bad, so he had to retire from police work.  Now he helps people train their dogs to do trailing and search-and-rescue and all kinds of interesting jobs like that.  And here's the most important part:  Mr. Schettler now has some BASENJIS!  He has trained two of them as hunting dogs, which is how they are used in Africa, of course.  And now he is training a basenji to find explosives.  I think this is very cool, and it makes me proud to be a basenji!

Mom sort of knows Mr. Schettler because he joined a basenji list she is on.  And he has written some articles about hunting with basenjis for The Basenji magazine.  So when Mr. Schettler's book about Ronin got published, Mom was interested in reading it, and that's why she bought us a copy.  

I have never met a bloodhound in person, and neither has Mom, but now we feel like we sort of know about them because of having read the story of Ronin.  Some people don't realize that bloodhounds are very gentle, friendly dogs.  When they find the person they are trailing, they don't attack.  They are more likely to jump up and lick the person in a happy, friendly way!  This is different from what a doberman or a German shepherd might do in the same situation.  Bloodhounds have lots of wrinkles and loose skin and long, floppy ears.  Oh, and another thing to know about bloodhounds is that they slobber a lot!

Mom says she does not think she would ever want to own a bloodhound, although she admires them for the work they do.  Mom says she much prefers to own basenjis, and I am very glad to hear her say that!


  1. Piper, I am going to have to read this book! I always thought it'd be neat to have and train a search and rescue dog, and then be able to help find missing people. Some day I'd like to adopt a shelter dog suited for that kind of training. As far as Bloodhounds go- I have met some in person- and they are very sweet indeed, a little goofy, and handsome. But, they can also be very strong-willed, and need room to safely run and follow that nose! Then there's their "baying" sound- that loud, long bark/cry- not for the faint of heart! When I worked at Wayside Waifs, we only adopted Bloodhounds and Coonhounds out to people who really knew what they were doing- since they're not just a typical house dog. (Kind of like adopting out Greyhounds- and I know everyone at your house understands what I mean!) I agree with your mom that they probably aren't a dog for me- even though every time one did come to Wayside, I thought they were just really great. Maybe a tad too much slobber! :) Thanks for sharing this book. I think the work they do is very interesting, and I would definitely like to read it.

    hugs, Aunt Kerry

  2. Dear Aunt Kerry,
    I really think you will like this book, so I hope you can read it. You are lucky to get to meet some bloodhounds in person, but any kind of dog can be a search-and-rescue dog. They just have to have a good sense of smell, which all dogs have! Also they have to be able to learn to focus on just sniffing out one person's scent or only dead people's scent or whatever. Mom says I wouldn't make a good S&R dog because I would rather take a nap than go out looking for somebody! LOL
    Your friend, Piper