Book Reviews & Letters to Susan
“Go Find, My Journey to Find the Lost and Myself”
“I screamed at the ocean: I don’t care about finding gold!…..
I need death for my rebirth.
I am now on a journey alone.”
These are the quotes I often recite to myself. Susan has taught me that I am actually not alone in these feelings and the true treasures that one excavates through bravery are worth way more than the weight of gold! “
I’m a bit of a science nerd, so one of the things I loved about this book was how dogs use scent to find people. For example, the author explains how a dog can detect one molecule in a trillion and link it to a specific person. What’s more, there is a lot of complicated science behind how scent moves over a landscape depending on the sun and wind and water, and learning about that was really fascinating. The end of the book was particularly powerful and was a nice payoff. The links that were drawn by the author as she struggled to hold on to her most important relationships—her husband and her dog—were quite moving. Specifically, our human need to make promises because those promises sustain us and help us survive from day today. But what happens when promises can’t be kept? Some promises simply don’t last because fulfilling them is beyond our control. When promises are broken, we lose the structure that holds our world together…that’s how we get lost. Overall a great read!
–Brian Nelson, Author and Fulbright Scholar
If you’re looking for a good read during these tense times, check out “Go Find,” written by my high school ski teammate Susan Purvis! She’s an amazing, generous soul whose story is by turns inspiring, heartbreaking, achingly honest, tragic, funny, and life-affirming.
Fascinating, moving and well written, Susan tells a multi layered story that appeals not just to mountain folk, dog lovers, but also to anyone who has a heart and caring soul. I cried and marveled and found myself in these pages as well. Bravo Susan. I feel forever changed.
–Kristen Ulmer, former pro extreme skier, thought leader and author of The Art of Fear.
Hi Susan- I meant to message you a few months ago when I picked up and read your book – I loved it. I read it on a trip through Portugal and connected with your writing so easily, like I had known it for a long time, an old friend. On so many fronts, what it means to be a woman who loves the mountains, what love is and isn’t, and what it means to know a dog’s love and loyalty. The very finest in humanity is perhaps found in animals.
—Amy, Missoula MT
“Go Find is a great story about the sacrifices we often make in pursuit of our passions. It takes great courage to jump out of a helicopter on a Colorado mountainside, but it takes as much, if not more, to tell the sacrifices, failures, and ultimately the successes, while opening your life to the judgment of the world. Sue takes you on her journey to break into a search and rescue community that can often not be welcoming to new comers. I’m a 31 year Paramedic, RN, former SAR team member and had the pleasure of being a student in one of Sue’s wilderness medicine classes. Go Find gives an honest and not always flattering view into the world of volunteer search and rescue in the Western US, as well as an intimate portrait of the life of a rescuer, before the pager goes off in the middle of the night. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.”
—Steve, Paramedic and World-class Kayaker
First I read it, then bought it on audible. If you know a first responder, give them this book and read it yourself. I wanted to hear the book again in the authors own voice. Loved it. It’s been a long time since I found a book that I could not put down and also learned something from. This brave woman carried me on her journey in life where she made a difference and found her purpose. I laughed, cried and looked at what is important in my own life. Go Find reminded me that life is no life without community and love.I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves people, dogs, snowmobiles, travel, skiing, adventure, or exploring.
“This is such a powerful book–run to go find this!! It is full of insights, growth, honest vulnerability, amazing tenacity, deep passion, courage, and so much more. Wow! I just didn’t want it to end. Thank-you, Susan, for sharing your gifts with us. I have had many adventures and read many wonderful adventure memoirs, yet this is on the top-it opened a whole new awareness. Encourage your friends to enjoy this book!!”
People at a crossroads in their life will be inspired by the story of how one woman created a life for herself—and helped so many in the process.
–Ellen E. Schultz, graduate of Purvis’ intensive wilderness medicine courses, avid backpacker, and former investigative reporter for The Wall Street Journal.
Sue Purvis has captured the heart of a personal journey that we all take to find our own truth. From the high Himalaya to the wilds of Montana, Sue embraced a life of service while searching for her true path. And in the loyalty and purpose of an avalanche rescue dog, she found clarity. “Go Find” is a gem!
—Jennifer Lowe-Anker, Author “Forget Me Not” a memoir
“Susan Purvis delivers a spectacular love story about the beautiful bond between a woman and her dog. Through her extreme and arduous adventures (professional as well as personal, literal as well as metaphorical), Purvis seeks to find purpose, love and meaning. She brings readers along for the always-surprising trek with her vivid and intense prose. Prepare to be moved, enthralled, and inspired. Go Find is truly a rare and special find!”
—Angie Abdou, PhD, author of The Canterbury Trail and Home Ice
“Go Find this book. You will be thrilled by the relationship of a woman and her dog.”
–Lavonne Mueller, playwright, novelist, and Woodrow Wilson and Guggenheim Fellow.
“A fantastic read, a fantastic accomplishment! Loved it! Chillingly good!”
—Dr. Lanie Robertson, Tony Award and Broadway playwright, actor, and educator.
“Readers searching for meaning will find themselves somewhere on these pages. While the whir of helicopter blades and avalanche bombs are powerful, Susan Purvis takes us even deeper into the psychological landscape of lost and found.”
— Brian Schott, Founding Editor, Whitefish Review
“If it’s true that you have to get lost to be found, then this book is my new primer.”
—Laura Munson, New York Times best-selling author of This Is Not The Story You Think It Is and founder of Haven Writing Retreats
“Finally, a good book on the world of avalanche rescue dogs and the lives of their mostly unpaid and often thankless trainers. And those who take on the thankless, long journey to train search dogs deserve a special place in heaven. I’ve known Susan Purvis for many years and she is certainly one of them.”
—Bruce Tremper, retired Director of the Utah Avalanche Center and author of Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain and Avalanche Essentials
Tears pour down my face as I devour the final pages of Go Find, just like the avalanche dog, Tasha, devours her kibble. Susan Purvis’s first book is an unstoppable tour de force of excitement, emotion and bravery. From the first page to the last, I was immersed in her wintery world. Beyond the fabulous storytelling and incredible adventures, lies a story at the heart of each one of us: What is a Life Worth Living. This book should be at the top of every person’s must read list.
—Lauren Walker – Best-selling author of Energy Medicine Yoga and The Energy Medicine Yoga Prescription
Susan Purvis’ debut memoir is an eye-opening look at what it means to surrender to a calling — even when that calling means personal danger, hardship, and loss. This fast-paced and often pulse-pounding story pushes readers onto snow-covered mountains, under frigid waters, and straight into Purvis’ heart as she struggles to rescue the fallen and herself. It’s a multi-layered story of strength and weakness, survival and loss, risk and reward, but above all, love in its many human and canine forms. If you enjoy stories about adventure, dog training, forensics, and/or examples of fortitude, self-actualization, and courage, be prepared to forgo your routine until you finish reading it.
—Carrie Pearson, children’s book author, Stretch to the Sun: From a Tiny Sprout to the Tallest Tree on Earth, October 2018.
Go Find by Sue Purvis could easily be sub-titled Busting Down the Men’s Club Door. In her seeming Quixotic quest to train an avalanche dog and join the professional Ski Patrol at Crested Butte, she blissfully ignores the long-standing barriers to women and change in the established annals of mountain history. To her credit, she tilts at Windmills, wins entry and the grudging respect of the Windmills.
In a time when women are equaling or bettering men in outdoor pursuits, Go Find is an inspirational story that demonstrates with grit, determination (and a friend with a belly full of kibble) anything can be accomplished.
—Keith Liggett, Writer, Ski Instructor, Avalanche Rescue Team Leader.
Reading Go Find is like sitting down with a good friend and listening to her story, and although it is Susan’s autobiography, Tasha is the star. Susan and her dog find a new life, test their limits, and go against the odds to succeed, and in the end realize what—and who—are important to them. While the book doesn’t take place entirely in Montana, its themes are relevant to any mountain town.
–Anonymous from Bozeman, MT
Loved the book. Couldn’t put it down once started (the glue on the cover helped a lot) … compelling, thought-provoking.
–David Butler, Director of Sustainability at Canadian Mountain Holidays
“This is so much more than a dog story. Susan Purvis takes you on an exciting and tumultuous journey of high-mountain search and rescue. A peregrination with highs and lows that also becomes a metaphor for life and relationships. Her moving, humorous, and genuine writing will enthrall you. Go read and you will discover.”
– Dale Atkins, past president, American Avalanche Association
Dog lovers and adventurers alike will discover ‘Go Find’ nearly impossible to put down. Sue explores the human + dog connection on her life long journey as a top wilderness medicine educator and dedicated search and rescue volunteer. She sheds the light on what it means professionally, spiritually, and emotionally to dedicate one’s self to the service of others and to the unconditional love of a dog. Woof!
– Ace Kvale, adventure photographer and subject of: Ace and the Desert Dog
Sue is authentic. She gives the reader insight into the real cost of becoming a rescuer – blood, sweat, sleepless nights, dollars and emotional turmoil are all in the mix. For anyone considering training a search dog, this is a must read. Animal lovers will need a box of tissues at the ready as they read Sue’s story of falling in love and partnership with her best friend through the heart wrenching inevitable end to that relationship.
– Luanne Freer, MD, Founder/director, Everest ER, Past president Wilderness Medical Society, Medical Director Yellowstone National Park
“Go Find is a stunning, fascinating journey of a tenacious woman bravely making her way in the brutal, unforgiving world of high-altitude search and rescue and joins one of the few elite high-altitude volunteer dog teams in the U.S. As Susan Purvis and her equally strong-minded dog Tasha pursue the training and certifications necessary, Purvis finds out that the “lost” includes herself and that while forging the closest possible relationship and understanding with Tasha, human connections confuse and elude Purvis. Told with abundant suspense, warmth and humor, “Go Find” captures the persistence, dedication and strength of one young woman forging ahead against all odds in the macho realm of search and rescue. Told in vivid, sharp prose, you will feel the frigid cold and icy snow of the Rockies and find yourself holding your breath with each new obstacle, each brave step forward, and every new mission. Purvis takes her readers on a page-turning journey, and with a will as unflinching as the mountains she and her pet search, the author eventually discovers herself.”
–CHRISTINE CARBO, author of the award-winning Glacier mysteries.
“A love story about a woman and her amazing rescue dog. A tale of exciting, life-changing adventures.”
– New York Times bestselling author, Kat Martin.
“Having spent a month in the hottest place on earth with Susan Purvis, I quickly realized that she was not only a tough explorer but an extraordinary soul. In Go Find, Susan regales her extraordinary life and personal spiritual odyssey, with observations as profound as the natural world that she explores. A great read for explorers and armchair explorers alike.”
–Richard Wiese, President of The Explorers Club and Emmy Award-winning host of Born to Explore with Richard Wiese
Go Find, a story of evolution and self discovery as a woman and her dog struggle to enter the “male macho clubs” of the 90’s but with ultimate success … the real story – her gaining independence and autonomy teaching her black lab (& learning from her lab) search & rescue skills in spite of the resistance of a male dominated world of ski patrols and S&R groups. A good tale of an outlier doing well and the love of her dog and the impermanence we all face. It’s another version of the Butterfly Effect, where seemingly random distant events have large consequences – “Hallelujah”
– Jerry Roberts is a retired Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) Forecaster presently working for Mountain Weather Masters providing forecasts for the motion picture and television industries.
”Beyond entertaining and educating the global audience, Go Find challenges every professional service dog handler to spend more time reading and responding to partners — both K9 and human. For today’s law enforcement and rescue missions, as high-tech AI (low brain) supersedes low-tech K9 (high brain), dogs still have more to show us.”
—Sandy Bryson, California commissioner, Ret., law enforcement K9 team trainer
I just finished Go Find and I applaud you for the most vulnerable and open-hearted book I have ever read. Your relationship travails hit memories with me from long ago and your courageous and honest revelations will be inspirational to many, as they are to me.
The rigors of back country rescue and certification is fascinating, a real eye-opener, and make the stories I read in the paper of rescue more insightful now that I know a bit of the background and training that the people and animals go through. Craig Naylor, Composer
I cried when I read of Tasha’s last days. I, too, am heartbroken when I have to say goodby to one of my four-legged friends. It is so hard to know when the right time is and so hard to say goodby and, for me, to not have the tactile affections of fur, licks, and snuggles.
“Susan Purvis has written a beautiful book about the process of seeking and continuing to find her perfect self in an imperfect world by listening to her teacher. She writes, ‘Empathy is my teacher.’”–Dick Dorworth, author and skier
Half the time I was laughing; half the time I was crying while reading Sue’s renditions of memorable training sessions and missions. Sue Purvis is brutally and painfully honest as she tells of struggles she encountered in the dog-eat-dog worlds of search and rescue and ski patrol.
Fortunately, our search dogs never have to go through the emotional roller coaster of frustration, successful finds and rejection, all on the heels of each other. To them, it could more appropriately be described as a race against the clock, rather than a competition. In “Go Find”, Sue confesses that “I had sold my soul for dollars and life was passing me by as I slaved away along a purposeless path of making money.” Search dogs don’t need a thank you or financial remuneration; they find joy in the job. We’ve learned so much from our sar dog partners: how to love unconditionally, the gift of forgiveness, loyalty and deep devotion. If they spoke our language, they’d tell us that “You humans so need to learn the lesson of finding joy in this life.”
I loved witnessing the happy dances that Tasha and my dogs would do after a successful find. They didn’t understand the grief that would suffocate and bury the friends and family of every avalanche victim. All they knew was that they had solved the mystery. They had finished the game. Like our search and rescue dogs, we have so much to give and so little time. “Go Find!”
–Patti Burnett, author, K-9 handler, search and rescue, ski patrol