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The Possibility Dogs: What I Learned from Second-Chance Rescues About Service, Hope, and Healing Paperback – June 3, 2014
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Flight-instructor Charleson’s well-received Scent of the Missing (2011) drew from the intimacy between search-and-rescue dogs and their owners. This book partly concerns therapy dogs, who comfort the elderly, convalescent, and traumatized. But the main subject is the less-familiar psychiatric-assistance dog, who knows when to respond to his or her owner’s subtlest behavior. By approaching or pressing against their owners, these dogs interrupt such chronic conditions as blackouts, agoraphobia, vertigo, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. The case studies are interesting and include frequent public skepticism toward tormented yet normal-seeming people assisted by dogs. In tragic irony, Charleson will likely need a psychiatric-assistance dog as her kidney disease spreads. She started Possibility Dogs, a nonprofit that helps people rescue homeless dogs and then self-train them for psychiatric assistance. Readers wearied by long descriptions of dog personalities might find this book a slog. And many will wonder: Why not use money spent flying to Los Angeles to save a 15-year-old, blind, deaf, arthritic dog—with help from successful actor friends—on a poor, promising student instead? --Dane Carr --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"An inspiring and refreshingly optimistic reminder about the untapped possibilities that exist in the relationships between humans and dogs." -- Kirkus Reviews
"You don’t have to be an animal lover to be moved by this beautifully written and impassioned account of the author’s work rescuing dogs from shelters and training them to be service animals...This is the rare book that can change minds about the reality of animals’ emotional lives." -- Publishers Weekly, starred
“Possibility Dogs” is a moving page-turner of a memoir from an accomplished trainer who shifts from the work of search and rescue to that of psychiatric service dogs. Her gritty, funny, insightful stories are of down-and-out dogs who end up performing miracles for people suffering from such things as post-traumatic stress disorder, acute panic attacks, or obsessive-compulsive disorder....Insightful and earthy, Charleson is never maudlin. She keeps it real....All the stories have tremendous heart and power and you believe Charleson when she writes: 'Any dog can surprise you,' and 'great dogs can come in odd packages.' -- Boston Globe
"For everyone who is interested in the human animal bond, this book is essential reading. Learn how service dogs can provide emotional support for people who are in great need." -- Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make us Human and Animals in Translation
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Jake might have died, or he might have lived an ordinary or mean life, if not for Susannah. With her, he has become the embodiment of goodness. Jake is not an obedient automaton. Susannah has brought out the goodness that was always in him. Jake wants to be good and helpful. Jake had been abandonned, thrown away, deemed useless. Now he is a contributing member of society and a shining example to us all. How many millions of good Jakes are being thrown away, abused, neglected, and killed, when they could become wonderful, useful, intelligent, kind companions? Two of my dogs came from shelters, one was found tied to a tree, starving, and one was found running around the freeway. All four dogs are wonderful companions and three of them are working dogs.
I am sure this book will reach a wide audience, and I hope it will inspire others to consider how humans and dogs can associate in mutualistic relationships. It is, after all, how we came to be here in the first place. We would still be insignificant primates swinging in trees if not for the association of humans and dogs 30,000 years ago. Throughout history, dogs have helped us hunt and farm, they have protected us from danger and guided us home. Our relationship with dogs took us to corners of the globe where we would not have survived alone. Now that their work is largely over in those realms, having been replaced by machines, it is fitting that dogs can once again help us as psychiatric service dogs. It is a relationship that rewards the dog and the human, leading each to a better life than would be possible apart.
I bought this book in Kindle format and also as an Audible book. While it is a great book either way, I highly recommend the audiobook. Ms. Charleson is a pleasure to spend time with. She feels like a friend, and her voice is so soft, smooth, and clear, with the slightest Texas accent at times. Also, she vocalizes the odd sounds of her dogs, which you should not miss. Get in your car with your dogs for a road trip to anywhere, and take this audiobook with you. You will fall in love with Susannah and Jake and all the others.