Roger Guay grew up in Jackman, Maine, but he didn’t grow up wanting to become a game warden. “Back then, I didn’t consider poaching a crime. Nobody I knew did. The game warden was the enemy, and the crime was getting caught.”

So begins the first chapter of Roger Guay’s memoir, “A Good Man with a Dog,” about his 25-year career as a Maine game warden.

One of the earliest stories Guay tells in the book is about coming to see game wardens as protectors of an invaluable resource to ensure that everyone – including future generations – has the opportunity to know and enjoy hunting and fishing in the Maine woods.

Guay’s book, written with award-winning Maine writer Kate Clark Flora, is filled with wild chases, stakeouts in the middle of the night and harrowing rescues of lost and injured people. Two things become abundantly clear. Game wardens are indeed the good guys – if not often heroes. And the Maine woods can be a dangerous, unforgiving place.

During Guay’s time in service, he was involved in recovering over 200 bodies of people who’d gotten lost, come ill-equipped and/or made fatal decisions. Maine winters, in particular, have taken their share of people from away who have no idea of the risks they’re taking in the woods. Maine winters also are not timid about claiming people who have always lived here. All too often, the searches and recoveries require Herculean efforts to extract the bodies so loved ones can have some form of closure.

The beginning of the book is loaded with stories of poachers, hunting and fishing in clear and purposeful violation of the law. A heavier hand editing this section would have served the book well, as the stories tend to become repetitious. Stories of rescues, however, are more compelling.

Where the book really comes together, though, is in its latter half, when Guay recounts how he almost single-handedly resurrected the Warden Service’s use of search dogs. The details of handlers training their dogs are fascinating. The K9 unit garnered such a reputation for its work that wardens with their dogs began to be called into service to assist searches outside of their jurisdiction, including out of state.

Other law enforcement agencies would call them in as a last resort, and then complicate and delay the searches by withholding critical information, or information that they didn’t deem important. Trust had to be slowly built for the teams to be able to do their jobs in the unique manner required.

The book ends with the incredible story of Guay and a partner being called to New Orleans in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster to help find and recover countless victims of the devastation.

The sheer magnitude of the destruction, and being forced to take direction from a layered hierarchy that hadn’t a clue about how highly skilled K9 teams work, is a tale of massively oppressive ineptitude. That the recovery became almost solely focused on creating positive PR opportunities is a tragedy unto itself.

The psychic toll on Guay resulted in his becoming yet one more victim, suffering grievous post-traumatic stress that tore at the fabric of his soul, his family and his career.

“A Good Man with a Dog” is a moving book. For anyone who loves the wilds of Maine, Guay’s memoir pays great tribute to the men and women who seek to protect them and their visitors from harm.

Frank O Smith is a Maine writer whose novel, “Dream Singer,” was named a Notable Book of the Year in Literary Fiction in 2014 by “Shelf Unbound,” an international review magazine. He can be reached via: