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The Education of Will: A Mutual Memoir of a Woman and Her Dog Hardcover – February 21, 2017
"Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)" by David Sedaris
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"In addition to information sure to appeal to dog lovers, the author provides a compassionate account of the reclamation of her life from abuse and shame. An uplifting story of hope about how both dogs and humans need "a sense that they are not helpless victims."" (Kirkus)
"This powerful memoir twines the lives of an extraordinary dog and an extraordinary woman. Their courageous, compelling story will profoundly deepen your understanding of people and animals, fear and shame, love and listening." (Sy Montgomery, author of THE SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS)
"This inspirational memoir is, above all, a book about redemption. McConnell faces her own history of trauma as she tries to understand and heal her fearful, reactive border collie, Willie. Replete with McConnell’s fascinating and often humorous insights about working with wonderful and sometimes wounded dogs, this is much more than a book about training dogs. The Education of Will engages in an intimate and challenging conversation with the reader: about saving yourself, saving others, and allowing others to save you. It is original, powerful, heartwrenching in its honesty — and filled with a comforting, gentle grace." (Cat Warren, author of What the Dog Knows)
"Patricia McConnell may be the finest popularizer of the science of animal behavior we have today, and for many dog owners, myself included, she’s long been a wise and witty guiding light. With The Education of Will, her intensely personal and frankly brave memoir, she examines her own traumatic history with characteristic insight, honesty, and intellectual tenacity. The result is a fascinating portrait of the deepest of connections being forged between one woman and one dog — and just how high the stakes are for both. Patricia McConnell is a treasure, and we're very lucky indeed that she wrote this story." (David Wroblewski, author of THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE)
"The Education of Will delves deep into the minds of people and dogs, and into the effects of trauma, showing that healing is possible. McConnell gives a voice to those who can’t speak in words and provides hope for fearful animals everywhere.” (Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make Us Human and Animals in Translation)
"An unflinching look at trauma and how one woman grows beyond it—beside a wondrous, troubled spark of a dog who needs her help and helps her know herself. Wisdom earned in the hardest places, dog and human, carries with it a message of hope. The Education of Will is riveting from the first page to the last and will reach many readers who long to put all kinds of burdens down." (Susannah Charleson, author of Scent of the Missing and The Possibility Dogs)
"McConnell has written an inspiring and courageous book about the mysteries of the love between humans and dogs and how that love can bring healing and forgiveness after trauma. Anyone who has ever loved a pet—especially a dog—will discover new and powerful insights into how that bond can lead to liberation, even from even our most hidden and crippling shames. The Education of Will brought me to tears and laughter, amazement and admiration. McConnell has dramatically advanced the growing body of literature that explores post-traumatic stress syndrome and how our life force—and that of our beloved dogs—leads us to truth-telling and a reconnection with ourselves and society." (Nancy V. Raine, author of After Silence)
"In The Education of Will, Patricia McConnell writes with unflinching honesty, vulnerability, and warmth. She wraps her reader in the highs and lows of a life lived beautifully, through gut-wrenching traumas, hard-won victories, unexpected romances, and tear-jerking setbacks. Through it all, McConnell depicts the natural world (and of course, dogs) with masterful reverence and passion. A tremendously winning memoir."
(NICKOLAS BUTLER, author of Shotgun Lovesongs, Beneath the Bonfire, and The Hearts of Men)
Praise for The Other End of the Leash
"Patricia McConnell has written the You Just Don't Understand of the human-canine relationship. . . . This humorous, well-written book tells us what to do and what to avoid based on years of studying dogs and their primate owners." (Frans de Waal, Ph.D., author of Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?)
"This book is more than a story of a bad dog turned better, and it is more than a recitation of how dogs can help people. McConnell achieves something simple, honest, and beautiful in a book about a troubled woman and her troubled dog." (Booklist Magazine)
“It takes bravery to share such deeply personal and traumatic details from her life. Readers, even those who know McConnell’s work well, will be struck by how vulnerable she makes herself and how personal this book is.” (TheBark.com)
“[McConnell’s] openness and bravery benefit both species. Centering on themes of trauma, recovery, shame, fear, setbacks, and healing, The Education of Will is captivating, a page-turner in fact.” (Scientific American)
“Opposable thumbs and all paws up for McConnell’s newest book, The Education of Will. This is not a training book, although in a way it is as the reader will gain insight as to what it takes to work with dogs that present fear or aggression.” (Seattle PI)
"The book is a fascinating read with enough dog and human examples, personal experiences, and animal behavior to satisfy every type of reader.” (Smart Dog University)
"Human and border collie lead each other to peace... An animal behaviorist's memoir parallels her healing from multiple traumas as she patiently leads her beloved border collie to overcome his fears." (Shelf Awareness)
About the Author
Patricia McConnell, PhD, CAAB is an Ethologist and Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist who has consulted with cat and dog lovers for over twenty years. Her nationally syndicated radio show, Calling All Pets, has played in more than 110 cities for fourteen years. She is the behavior columnist for The Bark magazine and a Consulting Editor for the Journal of Comparative Psychology. She has retired from her position as Adjunct Associate Professor in Zoology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the author of ten books on training and behavioral problems, as well as the critically acclaimed books, The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs, For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend, and Tales of Two Species.
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Top Customer Reviews
I found her book helpful for myself and can be for so many who go into human service careers to try and heal their own traumas through their clients! Ms. McConnell clearly describes it can be one or many traumas that build upon one another, the results are still damaging and life limiting. I once had a social worker turned therapist tell me that my traumas were not bad enough. Thank you Ms. McConnell for sharing your, and Will's story; it is life affirming and very encouraging.
But it’s her willingness to share her own experiences makes her writing so effective. It’s as if, after explaining the theory and mechanics of behavior modification and training, she turns to the reader and says, “here, I’ll show you.” She shares not just lessons learned, but the deep, abiding love she has for her own dogs, and by example, gave me permission to love my own dogs in a similar way. In a field obsessed with confidence and leadership, her emphasis and nurture and species-appropriate expression was so welcome and needed in my own life.
“The Education of Will” extends that approach in a difficult but necessary way. Simply put, Dr. McConnell shows us that we bring our past with us into every relationship we enter, including those with our beloved dogs. And for those who have endured serious trauma, PTSD may well play a central role in how those relationships develop. Both dogs and human suffer trauma, and it can deeply affect their relationships with others.
I think I most appreciate this book because it emphasizes, in compelling detail, how much fear drives canine and human behavior. For all the research out there that confirms this, people still don’t seem to fully appreciate this fact when it comes to their own beloved dogs. Thanks to Dr. McConnell for yet another book that will help many, many dogs.
There is a moving passage in the book about a nest of barn swallows in her garage and how they evolve from completely vulnerable to finding their wings. I re-read it several times and it made me think of how McConnell and Willie, and others dealing with PTSD, take the same journey to survive and ultimately thrive.