Amazing story of love, rescue in the mountains

By Victor Volkman

Go Find: My Journey to Find the Lost – and Myself
By Susan Purvis
Blackstone (2018)

On the surface, Go Find is a simple memoir with a simple title: a woman in her 30s makes an impulse decision to get a dog and train him to eventually become a member of the world’s most renowned search-and-rescue dog team. But dig deeper and it’s a complex mixture of love and loss, triumph and grief, success and failure…on multiple levels. U.P.-born author Sue Purvis is our guide on a journey of exotic locales, from Colorado to Nepal. Susan Purvis grew up on the east side of Marquette, Michigan. As a child, Susan explored Lake Superior with her father, Harold (a fisheries biologist) in search of lake trout. Susan’s mother, Dorothy, a homemaker and community organizer, introduced Susan to ballet, ice skating at the Palestra, Girl Scouts and skiing at Marquette Mountain (Cliffs Ridge). As a senior in high school, Susan attended her first medical and writing courses at Northern Michigan University.
Before I go any further, I have to say that I am not a dog person; yet I found myself compelled to keep turning the pages. I could hardly believe that here I am – a 54-year-old grown man – reading a story that is 50% about a black Labrador retriever named Tasha and enjoying the heck out of it, and I mean it’s really about a dog: what the dog sees, smells, vocalizes and so on.
When the story begins, Sue and her husband Doug are a team of struggling field geologists working to uncover new gold deposits in the Dominican Republic. She doggedly plays her role as Doug’s lieutenant, taking jobs where her getting a job is a condition of Doug’s contract. Getting a dog, at first, is just a checklist item on life’s bucket-list: get married, get a house and get a dog. At first, adopting Tasha, at the tender age of 5 weeks old, is all Sue ever wanted. However, shortly after landing in the tiny resort town of Mount Crested Butte, Colorado, in 1995, Sue picks up the scent of a tragedy that happened a few years earlier: an avalanche that enveloped three toddlers just outside their home. By sheer luck, two were rescued and resuscitated, but a third died needlessly from the lack of a qualified avalanche rescue dog.
Sue sees this gap in the world and boldly steps forward to fill it, despite knowing nothing about search-and-rescue or even the basics of obedience training…

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