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Dog Book Review - Buster - The Military Dog That Saved a Thousand Lives

Military dogs are amazing. They can sniff out explosives, track criminals and they help our service men and woman in countless ways. It’s not just the work they do when they are on duty that makes them special, the connections these dogs make with their handlers is like none other.

Buster: The Military Dog That Saved a Thousand Lives is a story about one of these amazing dogs, and it is told by his handler, Will Barrow, in this heartwarming novel that is written by Isabel George.

“I went back to the kennels and sat with Buster, telling him all about the debrief and how glad I was to be back and to be alive. As usual he sat and listened and took it all in his stride. Just sitting with him was important to me and as I stroked him I was well aware that the moment could have been so different – even non-existent.”

Buster was an English springer spaniel. He was a highly trained military dog who served five tours of duty in three separate wars: Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s an achievement unparalleled by any other military canine. Buster is the official lifetime mascot of the RAF Police.

Dog Book Review - Buster: The Military Dog Who Saved A Thousand LivesThis book is about Buster’s story, as told by his handler RAF Police Flight Sergeant Will Barrow. Buster was truly a one in a million dog who served his country with unwavering devotion. The way that Barrow tells this story will make even a non-dog lover appreciate the bond between dogs and humans.

The book is easy to read, and is appropriate for older children as well as adults. Whether you’re interested in the military aspect of the book or the canine side, you’re going to get a lot more than you anticipate from this story. For the military buffs out there, this book gives some basic insight about many of the day to day activities of the soldiers who have fought and are currently fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But at the heart of the novel is the relationship between Barrow and Buster. Barrow tells a heartwarming story of how he and the canine saved each others lives. The chemistry between the two is clearly addressed, and Barrow narrates Buster’s emotions in a warm and funny way. It’s clear that Barrow is a dog lover who is proud to work with a partner as steady and loyal as Buster.

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Admittedly, this isn’t a book that I would typically pick up and think, “Wow! This looks great!” I was sent this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. However, I was hooked in to the plot after reading the prologue. It was evident from the beginning that Buster: The Military Dog Who Saved a Thousand Lives was going to be less about Buster’s amazing accomplishments and more about the strong relationship between Buster and Barrow.

“I’m proud of Buster, and proud to know him and proud to hear him praised by colleagues. And this still happens: even though he’s retired, he’s remembered for all the lives he saved.

I know how lucky I was to have Buster by my side in conflict. I was never alone, as others were alone. He has always looked as if he understood all I said, and I’ve found great comfort in that, especially when there was no one else I could talk to, no one who could just listen. He bridged the gap when I was missing loved ones and it’s a gap that widens – especially when you’re being shot at.”

For dog lovers, this book will certainly hit home. By the end of the novel you’ll be in love with Buster, and you’ll be squeezing your own dog a little tighter too. You can tell that this book is written in the exact same way that Barrow told the story. As you read it you feel like he’s sitting next to you recounting his adventures with Buster.

Buster: The Military Dog Who Saved A Thousand Lives
Photo: Samantha Randall

One thing I did notice is that this book has a greater amount of typos and missing punctuation than I was expecting, but it’s certainly nothing that makes the book difficult to read. It’s just a little annoying if you’re a grammar freak like me. Its not like there are mistakes on every page, they are just scattered randomly throughout the book, and there are more of them than there are in most novels.

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If you’re looking for an easy read that will touch your heart and enlighten you to the strength, courage and determination of military dogs and their handlers Buster: The Military Dog Who Saved A Thousand Lives is the book for you.

This feel good book has a happy ending and a lot of moments in the pages that will bring a tear to your eye. If you don’t understand the sacred bond between a dog and his master, you will after reading this book.


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