Review: Go Find: My Journey to Find the Lost and Myself

by Susan Purvis (Blackstone Publishing, 2018)

Author Susan Purvis and her Black Labrador puppy, Tasha, grow together in their quest to save lives and find lost people in rugged, remote, and dangerous wilderness areas.

I'm not a "dog person" but have already recommended this book to many friends. It will likely appeal to dog lovers as well as those who love real-life adventures such as Cheryl Strayed's Wild. The author spent years working with ski patrol, search-and-rescue, and wilderness first responder teams. Purvis does an excellent job explaining logistics of particular missions. She also explores the inner journey of a woman trying to balance devotion to a crumbling marriage with her nascent search-and-rescue career. I love the photos included in this debut memoir. Dog lovers who have never set foot in the wilderness will still love the ups and downs of training a naughty puppy to follow commands and overcome challenges in extreme environments.

While the author Susan, and her husband Doug embrace a lifestyle that many would envy (international work, life in the Rocky Mountains, adventure) there are gaps in the marriage that inspire Susan to yearn for something new and different. She embarks on a quest to find herself while training and certifying her puppy. My favorite passages in this memoir are the actual rescue scenarios and details about dog training. 

Tasha’s nose and eyes hover only a few inches from the cool, moist earth. Her world revolves around smells and the sounds adjacent to the foot path. Fallen aspen leaves crackle under her feet. Every smell captures her attention. She scampers with her nose down, nostrils flaring, inhaling all the information on the trail, […] footprints left behind by field mice, ants, flies, robins, coyotes, and deer. Even the smallest of creatures like a chirping grasshopper clutching a blade of grass stops her in her tracks.

Less compelling—but likely of interest to many readers—are musings about the author’s struggles to reconcile her marriage and dynamics operant within the “old-boys-club” atmosphere of ski patrol and sheriff’s departments. Recommended to anyone who has ever loved a dog; or to those who yearn to adopt one! Go Find also offers helpful insights for those venturing into avalanche territory or other extreme natural habitats.

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Karen Lewis