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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Book Review: Molly: The Amazing True Story of the Pet Detective Who Rescues Cats by Colin Butcher, with JoAnne Lake

In a previous job, I actually selected all the books that went into both PetSmart and Petco for three years. At that time I didn't actually have a pet, which made me somewhat unbiased. But honestly, I am biased towards cats, even when I haven't owned one. Yet most books published are about dogs. (Yes, you can argue there are more dog owners, but there are more cats as pets as cat owners more often have multiples. We have two.) So when I saw my company was publishing yet another dog book, at first I nearly scrolled right by it, but the subtitle caught my eye. Wait--what? This is a book about a dog who finds cats? Yep!

Colin was a police detective in the UK, and after hanging up his hat he opened a PI office. Initially, he did all sorts of work, but as a real animal lover, animal cases seemed to gravitate to him. But after a brutal puppy mill case (during which the lives of him and his employees were seriously threatened), he thought he'd look into working more with cats who never seemed to get into quite the same amount of trouble. Almost all of the cat cases were simply a missing pet. And despite his best efforts, Colin's recovery rate was low (60%) and he really wanted to get it up. He threw himself into research, finding a town with a ton of cats, getting permission to put up cat-height cameras all around town and on a few of the more robust cats, to study their behavior. This helped a lot. But you know what would help more? A cat-sniffing dog. He'd worked with drug-sniffing dogs on the force, and it made a lot of sense to him. But you'd think he was insane with the responses he got to this! The first several places he contacted laughed in his face. He couldn't find anyone willing to try training a dog initially. When he finally did, it was a long time to find the perfect dog (a black working cocker spaniel named, of course, Molly.) But once Molly was ready to go, they were off to the races! Turns out most lost cats haven't actually gone that far. They've just gotten shut in to a basement, a shed, a greenhouse, etc. It can be hard to search dozens and dozens of outbuildings at a variety of neighbors' properties, but when you've got a dog to tell you where to search, your search is much more successful. Sadly, a couple of cases of course don't end well. But the majority do. This is a heartwarming, lovely story that's surprisingly perfect for BOTH cat and dog lovers.

This book is published by Celadon Books, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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