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Healing Companions: Ordinary Dogs and Their Extraordinary Power to Transform Lives Paperback – January 15, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jane Miller, LISW, CDBC, works in private practice as a clinical psychotherapist and licensed independent social worker, with a particular interest in holistic healing. She has lectured in a wide variety of settings, including many national and local organizations, schools, and dog-training facilities. More recently, Miller has consulted with NEADS (National Education for Assistance Dog Services), the Canines for Combat Veterans program for soldiers returning from combat in Iraq with post-traumatic stress, as well as other veterans organizations. She has appeared in the PBS program "Health Visions: Animals As Healers" and other local and national media. Miller lives in Oberlin, Ohio, with her two Golden Retrievers.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: New Page Books (January 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160163093X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601630933
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By E. Curtis on May 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The kindness and depth of knowledge Jane Miller shares in her book "Healing Companions" is not to be missed. If you work with people who are suffering from physical or psychiatric disability and could benefit from having a service/support dog, this is where you want to start. The great thing about this book is it is for the lay person wanting to train their own dog to help them in their daily lives, or for the professional wanting more information to share with their clients. It is very readable, and the amount of information in the resources pages is amazing.
As a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, I was often being contacted about how to train a service dog. I started sifting through the online search engines trying to amass information that I could easily pass along to people inquiring about training a service dog, and I was not happy with the results. Then I heard about Jane Miller and her book on a dog training and behavior list. In this one book, I found everything I'd been trying to find and more. She's already vetted and investigated all the resources she provides. It is worth it's weight in gold.

Start with this book, and you won't need to look any further.

Erica Curtis, CPDT
Arnicadia Farms Dog Training
North Coast of Oregon & SW Washington
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Kathy Donaldson on January 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently teamed up with my service dog Rocky. Rocky is a Shih Tzu and he has been trained to support my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression. Rocky is very young and is still a work in progress so while he develops and learns more skills I am also developing and learning skills.

I was not prepared for this process and I had so much to learn once I decided to have my dog trained to be my service dog. I ran into new lessons daily and I wanted to write a book about my experience to help others with the process. I was thrilled to read this book and to see the book I thought I needed to write was already written with much more experience, skill and knowledge than I could have ever provided.

I am very grateful to have found this book and am recommending it to all of the people who stop and ask me about my service dog.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Diana Burgwyn on January 7, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most of us have encountered service dogs for the blind and even for hearing-disabled people, but I, for one, had no idea that there was such a thing as psychiatric service dogs until I read Jane Miller's deeply touching and highly informative book Healing Companions. Miller is in a unique position to write on this subject, being a clinical psychotherapist and social worker as well as a leading authority on this emerging new field. What makes her book so special is that she combines her own personal story (especially the beautiful relationship she developed with her dog Umaya over many years) with insightful vignettes of her clients,plus imortant information that anyone considering such a dog will want to know.

Dogs often have an almost mystical sense of what we humans feel, think, and need, and I cannot imagine any more fulfilling relationship than that between a dog and a person whose emotional problems had previously left him or her feeling alone, unwanted and hopeless.

Thanks to Jane Miller for opening our eyes to this special bond.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By JenB on August 18, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I first want to echo what the other reviewers have said. Having said that, my personal experience is that psychiatric service dogs are a little known blessing to those with mental illness. The first time I heard the term I had no idea the impact my friend's dog could and would have on her. I sort of brushed it off and went on with my life. I suffer from mental illness and have a degree in psychology, yet I still couldn't comprehend what the "PSD" thing was all about!

Fast forward about 5 yrs to 2005 and I'm researching like crazy! Some friends and family, as well as professionals had no idea the power of having a service dog. More than once I've had to remind people "service" dog and not the more familiar "therapy" dog. Wow, do I wish Jane's book was out back then! It was hard to explain how the dog I'd gotten through my trainer could do more than provide comfort a pet offers. This book explains it - and in an easy-to-read and easy-to-understand way. Had this book been around in those years of research and when I connected with a trainer, I think the concept would have been easily understood and accepted. There are NO resources out there that encompass the range of information Jane provides.

I bought this book on my Kindle, however with the incredible list of resources that Jane has included, I went ahead and got a paper copy as well. My husband, who does not like to read, was the first to open the box when it arrived yesterday. He is eager to dig right in! My Mother has ordered her copy and my psychologist was reviewing the book and is likely to purchase it.

Please don't think that this book is solely for those with mental illness and the ones they love.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dani Weinberg Ph.D. CDBC on January 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jane Miller has written an extremely useful book for PSD partners and their trainers. She covers everything from choosing the right dog to end-of-life issues for which the partner must be prepared. In between, Miller tells us about several organizations that train service dogs of all kinds for returning veterans. One of these is an outstanding prison program that trains shelter dogs to assist veterans with PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury). Miller introduces us to actual veterans who received their service dogs from these programs. She takes us through the entire process of training, matching the dog to the person, and helping the new team work well together.

Other chapters talk about how these PSDs are trained. Miller devotes a chapter to helping the recipients' families understand and accept that these dogs are not pets but serious workers. And yet another chapter discusses how the recipient must care for the well-being of the dog, both physical and emotional.

One third of the book consists of very helpful appendices about the Americans With Disabilities Act so that the partners of these PSDs understand their legal rights. Miller has enlisted several of her colleagues to write two more appendices. One discusses the characteristics of different dog breeds in terms of the qualities important to people looking for a PSD, such as sociability, trainability, and inclination to cooperate with people. Another appendix describes the kinds of tasks that various kinds of service dogs perform - guide dogs, hearing dogs, and mobility dogs.

What was most exciting and helpful to me as a trainer was the appendix that described a huge range and variety of trained tasks that PSDs perform to mitigate the effects of disabling mental impairments.
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