Radio 2 Book Club: What the Dog Knows

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What the Dog Knows by Cat Warren will feature on the Radio 2 Fact not Fiction Book Club on the Jonathan Ross Arts Show on Thursday 19 January.

The book was selected with the help of a panel of library staff from across the UK. Find out more about the non-fiction strand of the Radio 2 Book Club.

We have an exclusive extract of What the Dog Knows available for you to read, and you can even win 10 copies for your reading group – just visit our Noticeboard.

What the Dog Knows

When Cat Warren adopted Solo, an unruly German shepherd puppy, she soon began to wonder what she’d let herself in for. Solo’s boundless energy was what made him loveable — but it also made him exhausting and difficult to train. Then she struck upon an idea: what Solo needed was something to do.

Like many dogs, Solo was destined to work: using his nose to help the police locate missing people. In this lively, accessible book, Warren details Solo’s journey from troublesome pup to expert cadaver dog, and explores the fascinating hidden world of animals that do essential work and the handlers who train them.

Selection panel review

Our library reading panel enjoyed – What the Dog Knows here are some of their comments:

“This book is a slightly unusual take on the dog lover’s narrative, in that it focuses on the experience of ‘working dogs’, in particular the author’s relationship with Solo, her cadaver dog – sniffing out dead bodies in the woods. It is a very personal narrative, clearly well researched and engaging.”

“It appears to be quite a specialist subject – training a dog that can find a missing dead person. However, it has lots of general appeal, and you don’t even need to be a ‘dog person’ to like it, as it really is about not giving up, and pushing through, and eventually finding the right place to be. The book is about a dog who starts out as an unruly misfit, but, with determined support and love from his owner, finds his calling and ends up helping lots of grieving families. It’s certainly engaging, and the dog will simply steal your heart.”

About the author

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Cat Warren is a professor and former journalist with a somewhat unorthodox hobby: she works with cadaver dogs — dogs who search for missing and presumed-dead people. What started as a way to harness the energies of her unruly, smart, German shepherd puppy, Solo, soon became a passion for them both (though Solo thinks it’s simply a great game, with the reward of a toy at the end). They searched for the missing throughout North Carolina for eight years.

A word from Cat

“I was thrilled to learn What the Dog Knows had been chosen for The Radio 2 Book Club, and even more thrilled with the book club’s close connection to libraries.

I was lucky; we didn’t have a television when I was a child. Every Saturday morning, my father drove us three siblings to our local library, where we could check out a maximum of seven books each. If I had been disciplined, I could have made them last. But usually, by Tuesday, I was done and waiting for the next trip. I consumed the entire animal section first. The order should not be a surprise. Dogs, then horses, then branching out to other species — wolves, donkeys, foxes, bears, and dolphins. Then, my mother introduced us kids to great animal nonfiction, reading aloud to us at night.

As an adult, my reading interests have become more eclectic, but the love of animals remains a constant. What the Dog Knows is my effort to combine some of the joy and wonder I felt as a child reading good fiction, combined with my current love of non-fiction, mysteries, history, and science. Plus dogs, of course. Some things never change.”

Get involved

Tune in to the Radio 2 Arts Show on Thursday 19 January to hear an interview with Cat Warren talking about her book.

Win 10 copies of this fascinating book for your reading group – just visit our Noticeboard.

Have you read What the Dog Knows? You can write a review, or add the book to your group’s reading list.

You can also share your thoughts with us on Twitter using #FactNotFiction and you can connect with the author Cat Warren.

Want to find out more? Take a look at the Radio 2 Book Club Twitter feed or find out more on the Radio 2 Book Club website.

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