Author: Dave Heyhoe
Star Rating: 3/5
Date Read: August 4th to 7th, 2014
It’s All About Treo is the touching true account of the brave war dog, Treo, and his human, Dave Heyhoe and their six month tour in Afghanistan to where they were deployed as a search team for hidden explosives. Alongside the Rangers, they would go out on a patrol and Treo soon became known and feared by the Taliban as ‘the black dog’. Dave and Treo saved countless number of lives during their tour in Afghanistan and came home as heroes.
It’s difficult to review true stories. This is the account of someone’s life, their experiences. You can’t blame them for plot holes or poor characters. However, in the case of It’s All About Treo, I did find a bone or two to pick (pun intended!) regarding the writing, and the use of words regarding our four-legged hero himself. What I found glaringly obvious in this book, and despite being an all-round animal lover myself, was the anthropomorphizing of Treo. If this had been fiction and the animals the main characters (a la Black Beauty and Charlotte’s Web), it wouldn’t have been an issue. But it’s non-fiction, and having almost finished my Animal Science degree I find these things difficult to ignore. Coupling to that, what I felt was completely unnecessary was Dave constantly telling us what Treo was thinking, or, even worse, when he refers to things that Treo has ‘said’.
I understand the bond between them must be very close, but at the same time, your dog doesn’t think in words. He will think in smells, predominantly as that is the strongest sense, as well as sounds and sights. He also doesn’t ‘know’ many of things Dave accredits him with – his behaviour is simply a reaction to Dave’s, hence Treo seeming depressed when Dave is upset about the death of another dog handling team.
There are also inconsistencies within the writing, such as at one point Dave remarks that searching for bombs is all a big game to Treo, and at another point he says that the dog knows it’s serious now. Which is it? Is it a game or is it serious? Dave is also prone to exaggeration – if he actually froze everytime Treo took a step he wouldn’t get very far. I also feel like, as this a factual account, a timeline would have been helpful. It’s just the little things that detract from the overall reading experience, when I’m thinking ‘well, no, that’s not quite right’.
Treo and Dave were a remarkable team and regardless of whether you believe dogs should be in active military service, there is no doubting the special bond between handler and animal, and the incredible things they accomplished during their time. I wish them both a long and happy retirement.