BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Bea Reviews Secret Service Dogs: The Heroes Who Protect the President of the United States by Maria Goodavage

Secret Service Dogs, Maria Goodavage, Review, Bea's Book Nook
Publisher: Dutton
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: October 25th, 2016
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | iTunes* | Barnes & Noble
* affiliate links; the blog receives a small commission from purchases made through these links.

Blurb from goodreads:

In an age fraught with terrorism, United States Secret Service canine teams risk their lives to safeguard the president, vice president, their families, visiting heads of state, and a host of others. Unprecedented access to these heroic dog teams has allowed a fascinating first-time-ever look at a very special breed of heroes.

Wherever the president goes, there will be dogs. They’ll be there no matter what the country or state. They’ll be there regardless of the political climate, the danger level, the weather, or the hour.

“If you let down your guard on the job,” says Special Agent Bill G., canine program manager, “it can change the history of the world.” It’s a burden Secret Service dog handlers take extremely seriously regardless of their specialty. Tactical dog handlers on the White House lawn, handlers whose dogs sniff for explosives around the world, and those who walk their amiable floppy-eared dogs up and down Pennsylvania Avenue all live one common mantra: Not on my watch. Or my dog’s.

Secret Service Dogs immerses readers into the heart of this elite world of canine teams who protect first families, popes, and presidential candidates: the selection of dogs and handlers, their year-round training, their missions around the world, and, most important, the bond—the glue that holds the teams together and can mean the difference between finding bombs and terrorists or letting them slip by.

“These animals will gladly run into a hail of gunfire,” says '"Stew," a Secret Service ERT tactical canine unit supervisor. “All they ask in return is for their handlers to throw the ball with them, pet them, and talk to them in an embarrassingly high voice.”

Secret Service Dogs
celebrates the Secret Service’s most unforgettable canine heroes. It is a must-read for fans of Maria Goodavage, anyone who wants a rare inside view of the United States Secret Service, or just loves dogs.

My Thoughts:

I love reading stories about dogs, always have. I also enjoyed Goodavage's previous book, "Top Dog: The Story of Marine Hero Lucca" so reading this was a no-brainer.

I was curious, and excited, to learn more about the dogs who protect the president and the president's family. I did learn about that but it was disjointed and disorganized, There was no organization; she jumped around and meandered. The book lacked focus; the broad subject of the Secret Service canine unit was the overall focus but she had trouble narrowing it down and examining the topic. It got confusing at times. I also missed pictures. I understand that there were security reasons for the lack but they were missed nonetheless.

On the plus side, we meet many dogs and handlers, current (at the time of writing) and former. The dogs are varied and full of personality and the insights from agents and handlers, both on the dogs and their work, was fascinating. Goodavage was granted access to people and materials and fills the book with details. But there was also a frustrating lack of  details on certain aspects of the work. Again, understandable for security reasons but the lack was strong. On the flip side, towards the end of the book, Goodavage goes overboard with heartrending details concerning the illnesses and deaths of some Service dogs.

"Secret Service Dogs" needed better organization and less pulling of the heart strings, but it was an interesting, sometimes informative, look at the Secret Service, what it is and isn't, and the many ways they make use of dogs. I have new respect for the dogs and the people who work with them.


  1. I agree; I read it a few months ago, and thought maybe I had an ARC that was uncorrected. There was an arc about an immigrant agent and his dog that just dropped with no conclusion of why it was supposed to be so wrenching. It WAS wrenching with the story of the agent's youth hiding from a tyrannical government, but it didn't follow out into the Secret Service section of the book. That's just the most obvious of the lacks.
    Really, it felt like part of a first or second draft.


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