I'm Writing a Book on Soldier Dogs, and Could Use Your Help!

 |  May 23rd 2011  |   1 Contribution


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Jake was not happy when he learned that Dutton Penguin wanted a solo head shot of me. He has grown used to always being at my side for my dog-writing photos. So we let him sit at my feet and we cropped him out. He'll never know. (Photo: Laura Altair Hanson)

My professional life is going to change dramatically for the next several months, Dogsters. I'm giving up all my freelance writing and editing jobs -- except my Dogster blog! -- to take on a very exciting new project: A book called Soldier Dogs, about incredible four-footed troops and their handlers.

I've been reading books on war dogs and dogs in history for a long time, and I've been writing about these amazing soldier dogs whenever possible. I am in awe of their feats, their loyalty, their enthusiasm for the job, and all the high-tech trappings used by some dog/handler teams.

So when literary agent Deirdre Mullane contacted me about writing a book on military working dogs (MWDs) after it came out that a dog was a vital part of the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden's compound, I went right to work on the book proposal. It was the perfect fusion of my journalistic background and my fascination with these extraordinary dogs.

With very helpful guidance and editing from Deirdre, and the super agenting skills of my regular agent, Carol Mann (they decided to co-agent the book), we ended up with a bidding war among publishers last week. Once I spoke with Dutton Penguin executive editor Stephen Morrow, I knew I had to have him as my editor. I was thrilled when this worked out, and we've embarked on this remarkable project together.

The book is going to be a tremendous amount of work in a short time, but I am thrilled. The end result is going to be riveting. Soldier Dogs will look at every facet of military working dogs' lives, and will tell engaging true stories of the extraordinary courage of dogs under fire, and the soldiers who share their fate. The book will explore the heroism and heartbreak of these faithful four-legged warriors and their devoted handlers.

Here's how you might be able to help:

I'm looking for really interesting true stories about these dogs and their handlers -- stories that demonstrate the deep bond between them, or exciting stories, or anything that help shed light on how they live and work together.

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Sergeant Martinez and his dog, Argo II, practice an "over the shoulder hold" that helps build trust (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Allen Stokes)

If you know any military dog handlers (past or present) who have intriguing stories to tell about their time with their MWDs, I'd love know more about them, and to be able to communicate directly with the handlers. If they are not available for whatever reason, I could talk with their parents or spouses. You can go to my fledgling Soldier Dogs website and click on the "Contact" button to leave a secure message for me.

I'm also looking for people who adopted retired military dogs - especially people who still have the dog.

Note: Please don't leave detailed information in comments below, as I might not be the only person writing about this topic right now! That said, I greatly welcome general comments below. If you don't feel like heading to my website to contact me, you can leave a comment below simply asking me to contact you; I can view email addresses on my end, so I'll email you back.

Please feel free to send this message out on Facebook, interest groups, and any veterans' groups, local military organizations, or anywhere you think there might be stories. And while you're out there, come on over to my Facebook page and Like it if you like!

I'll be providing updates there as the project moves along.

Thank you!

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