Semester of Graduation

Spring

Degree

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

English

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Gretel’s large round eyes and perfect triangle ears look as if they were drawn by an animator’s pen, but don’t let her sweet face fool you. This dog’s body will explode into rapid-fire barks like the shots of a semi-automatic weapon anytime things don’t go her way, but Jodi Scott Elliott doesn’t yield. Instead, she opts to hone Gretel’s energy and hypersensitivity to the search for missing persons.

In The Worst Dog Ever, Elliott chronicles both her personal journey and the historical efforts to recover those who are lost. Straddling the High Sierras of Northern California and the flat sticky bayous of Louisiana, she learns a working dog must push beyond the traditional conventions of other pets, and it is not easy to share a home with one. She reexamines the canines deployed out beyond the barbed wire into No Man’s Land and the ones scouring for pilgrims in the snow at the Great Saint Bernard Pass. Here, Elliott contemplates if a life’s value might be measured by its recovery efforts, and if so, she worries the uncompensated volunteer force of modern-day Search and Rescue might not be enough.

Negotiating through political thorns, sharp egos and actual briars, The Worst Dog Ever attempts to make meaning of their cuts and bruises—of the struggle, because we cannot let people just disappear into the night. Every life holds significance, so let’s send more dogs like Gretel out to find those who are missing.

Date

3-24-2023

Committee Chair

Wheeler, Joshua

Available for download on Friday, March 22, 2030

Included in

Nonfiction Commons

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