Susan Bulanda, M.A., C.A.B.C., Dog Lover and History Buff

April 18, 2024
By Anne Marie Duquette
Featured image for “Susan Bulanda, M.A., C.A.B.C., Dog Lover and History Buff”

Anne Marie Duquette interviewed Susan Bulanda, the Winner of the 2023 DWAA Writers Contest in the Books, Human Animal Bond, “Military Dogs of WWII”.

Read the Winning Entry

Congratulations on your win!  Tell us about your experience and expertise, and how this relates to your entry.  What target audience did you write for, and why?

I wrote my book for a general audience, especially dog lovers and history buffs. I am a certified animal (dog and cat) behavior consultant with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. I also have been a Search Manager for two canine Search and Rescue units and have worked and judged SAR units worldwide. The foundation for canine search work started before WWI and was critical for the dogs that served in WWI, which carried over to present times. I started my career as a dog trainer when I was in high school and studied how working dogs were trained, which led me to research the dogs of WWI and WWII.

What prompted you to submit this specific entry?  Why do you think it struck a special chord with the public and the judges—and with you?

Anyone who works with working dogs develops a very deep bond with that dog, especially if that person shares life and death situations with them. This is why I entered my book in the Human Animal Bond category. Many people do not know about the many animals that have served in world conflicts, so I feel that my book was special to the judges.

How big a part have dogs played in your personal and professional life?  Was there a particular dog that sparked your interest in interacting with the public?  Tell us about this special dog, and/or the dogs in your contest entry.

I have over 20 years’ experience training and working with SAR Dogs. I learned to walk holding on to my parent’s dog, so dogs and cats have always been a big part of my life. I started training dogs before I went to high school, and by the time I entered high school I had a business training dogs. I was recognized in my community as a trainer and even the local newspaper wrote an article about my accomplishments in 1961. It’s hard to pick just one dog that I’ve lived and worked with since they were all very special to me.

How big a part have people played in your association with dogs?  Family?  Friends?  Do you have any favorite writers/bloggers/media or graphic artists?  How have they influenced your career?

There have been so many people throughout my life that it is hard to pick just one. Some of my clients have become lifelong friends. I care for people as much as I do for animals. The biggest influence for me has been the Bible, so much so that one of the books I have written is God’s Creatures, A Biblical View of Animals.

When you consider both your personal and professional canine-related achievements, which one of each stands out the most?  And why? What is the driving force that sparks your work?

In both my professional and personal life, I would say that canine SAR has been one of the most important aspects of my life. SAR involves not only searching for missing people but interacting with the members of my unit. I deeply care about both animals and people, and being able to help both is the driving force in my life. I know that through my writing, I can reach many more people than I can in person. If my books help youngsters understand history, animals, and people then it is all worth it.

What ongoing or future canine projects do you have planned?  Are they personal (like cuddling your favorite pooch or volunteering at the local shelter) or professional (like selling articles, training, or conducting medical research)?

Even though I am a senior citizen and well into retirement age, I still do what I can to help both animals and people. I continue to research and write articles for various magazines such as K9 Cops and Police K9 Magazine, give seminars for my former students as I was an adjunct professor and taught the K9 Training and Management program, and help my clients have a good life with their dogs and cats.

What would you recommend to those peers who wish to enter your winning category in next year’s contest? 

Think “outside of the box” since the bond we have with animals covers many areas of life. So many animals of all kinds have made life bearable for people when they’re in a crisis. My book Faithful Friends, about the pets of the holocaust victims, tells what their pets meant to them during the persecution of WWII. This is an example of how deep the bond between people and their pets can be.

To conclude this interview, what thoughts from the heart would you like to share?

Sometimes it can be frustrating trying to be published, but do not give up. Take as many courses as you can and practice writing every day, even if it’s only for a half hour. If you can’t think of anything, then write about your feelings or what is happening with the weather but write.

Congratulations again and thank you for sharing with us.

Featured Image: Susan Bulanda and Scout, a search dog. Photo courtesy of Susan Bulanda.
Susan Bulanda prepares for a search. With her is Scout, a black Beauceron and Ness, a black and white Border Collie. Scout and Ness were the first of their breed to do SAR in the US.
Susan Bulanda prepares for a search. With her is Scout, a black Beauceron and Ness, a black and white Border Collie. Scout and Ness were the first of their breed to do SAR in the US. Photo courtesy of Susan Bulanda.
Book cover

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