The Dog Squad

dog squadTHE DOG SQUAD
Vikki Petraitis
Penguin Australia, May 2015, RRP $32.99

A number of years ago I traveled to Tasmania by boat. When we arrived at the port, the customs team brought their sniffer dogs to have a sniff at everyone’s bags. The dog stopped at a young Asian woman’s pack, and sat down. The customs people asked the girl, “Do you have any fruit in your bag?”

The poor girl had turned white with fear. Clearly she thought someone had hidden drugs in her bag and she was about to get arrested in a country where she didn’t understand the language and she went into a panic. Eventually the customs officers calmed her down and kept saying “Fruit? Do you have FRUIT?”.

“…An Apple?” she eventually managed to say. She got it out with shaking hands and they took it away. As they walked away I looked at her shocked face. She must have thought this was insanity, not understanding the strict customs laws between states here to stop the spread of fruit pests and diseases.

This was my only brush with working dogs. I’ve never owned a dog (I am a card carrying crazy cat lady); I’ve met dogs I’ve adored, liked and I’ve met dogs I’ve not liked. I hated one of my brother’s dogs. It hated me equally. My favorite dog was the street dog who adopted us on a walk around Easter Island. We gave him cake. He showed off to the other dogs us, his new temporary owners and marched us around the town, abandoning us when we got back to go tell the other dogs “I got owned!”. That’s as close as I’ve gotten to a bond with a dog and I was a bit hesitant about this book cause I really don’t care all that much, but it hooked me in anyway. If you do in fact love dogs and are interested in training, enforcement, and sheer human interest, this book covers that pretty well.

The thing I’ve always liked about Vikki’s books are they are very matter of fact, full of anecdotes – I like anecdotes about enforcement, having done an enforcement role myself for two years in the late 90s – and very Melbourne. I’m kind of fond of Melbourne. The slang and speech comes out in the people she interviews. There is a charm to it. And now I know a lot about dog training and the dog squad, which is actually kind of fascinating.

One of her books that stood out for me was on The Frankston Murders. Utterly chilling and so very close to home, so close that one of the photographs in the book of one of the SES people doing a search was of the person I was sharing a house with. That’s kind of cool She was a bad housemate though, she ‘acquired’ my copy of Journey to the West when she moved out. I’m still annoyed about that.'

About A. E. Jean

I am an artist, a writer, and a senior test analyst. Now bring me the books.
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