The Importance of Search and Rescue Dogs — Margaret Mizushima

Today I am excited to welcome author Margaret Mizushima as she shares how life experiences inspired her writing.

Throughout the past thirty-six years, my veterinarian husband and I have shared our lives with a pack of dogs. When our children were young, we used to escape from our duties at the vet clinic for a weekend and go camping in the mountains. Here in Colorado, we occasionally hear news of a child who gets separated from family in the high country, so we decided to train one of our dogs in search and rescue, just in case one of our own kids strayed away from sight and got lost.

We joined a search and rescue training group, taking our Rottweiler, Ilsa, and our Austrailian shepherd, Jessie. We planned to see which dog demonstrated the most potential, but both ended up with their own set of aptitudes.

This group is where I learned how to offer water to moisten mucous membranes to enhance scenting ability and how to combine the search and rescue equipment with the activity involved. At first, the dogs were allowed to play and socialize, but as soon as search harnesses came out, the tone became serious. You could observe which dogs caught onto this over time and which ones struggled to switch off the urge to tussle with the other dogs.

Each owner set up a scent track for their own dog, keeping it short in the beginning and then following a training protocol to increase the difficulty in incremental steps as the dog progressed. After setting the trail, the dog owner would hide, and the group leader would ask the dog to pick up the track. The best reward in the world is finding someone you love at the end of the track, and dogs did a happy dance as they joyously reconnected with their “lost” owners. Gradually, strangers were substituted for owners, and that joyful response still carried over at the end of each search.

Thankfully, we never needed to use our dogs to search for lost children, but our entire family, kids included, enjoyed those months of training. Due to job commitments and time constraints, neither my husband nor I were able to join the county search and rescue team, but we gained a new respect for the level of dedication and fitness required of these volunteers.

In those days, I had no idea that someday I would write a mystery series that featured a German shepherd K-9 with search and rescue skills, but it’s safe to say that this experience helped set the stage for the creation of K-9 Robo and his handler, Deputy Mattie Cobb.

On August 8, I’ll be celebrating the release of the paperback version of book three in the series, Hunting Hour: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery. I invite you to sample the series and join Mattie, Robo, and veterinarian Cole Walker in their adventures.

Click here to read the first chapter of Hunting Hour:

RT Reviewers’ Choice Award finalist for Best Mystery
Colorado Book Award finalist for Best Mystery

Critically acclaimed author Margaret Mizushima is back with her most thrilling read yet.

Deputy Mattie Cobb is in a dark place and has withdrawn from Cole Walker and his family to work on issues from her past. When she and her K-9 partner, Robo, get called to track a missing junior high student, they find the girl dead on Smoker’s Hill behind the high school, and Mattie must head to the Walker home to break the bad news. But that’s only the start of trouble in Timber Creek, because soon another girl goes missing―and this time it’s one of Cole’s daughters.

Knowing that each hour a child remains missing lessens the probability of finding her alive, Mattie and Robo lead the hunt while Cole and community volunteers join in to search everything―to no avail. It seems that someone has snatched all trace of the Walker girl from their midst, including her scent. Grasping at straws, Mattie and Robo follow a phoned-in tip into the dense forest, where they hope to find a trace of the girl and rescue her alive. But when Robo does catch her scent, it leads them to information that challenges everything they thought they knew about the case.

Mattie and Robo must rush to hunt down the kidnapper before they’re too late in Hunting Hour, the heart-pounding third installment in Margaret Mizushima’s exhilarating Timber Creek K-9 mysteries.

About Margaret:


Margaret Mizushima is the author of the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, which include Killing Trail (2015), Stalking Ground (2016), Hunting Hour (2017), and Burning Ridge (2018). Her books have garnered a Reader’s Favorite gold medal and have been listed among finalists in the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, the Colorado Book Awards, and the International Book Awards. She lives in Colorado where she assists her husband with their veterinary practice and Angus cattle herd. She can be found on Facebook/AuthorMargaretMizushima, on Twitter @margmizu, on Instagram at margmizu, and on her website at


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