In The Possibility Dogs, author Susannah Charleson journeys into the world of psychiatric service, where dogs aid humans with disabilities that may be unseen but are no less felt.
This work had a profound effect on Charleson, perhaps because, for her, this journey began as a personal one: Charleson herself struggled with posttraumatic stress disorder for months after a particularly grisly search. Collaboration with her search dog partner made the surprising difference to her own healing. Inspired by that experience, Charleson learns to identify abandoned dogs with service potential, often plucking them from shelters at the last minute, and to train them for work beside hurting partners, to whom these second-chance dogs bring intelligence, comfort, and hope.
Along the way she comes to see canine potential everywhere, often where she least expects it – from Merlin the chocolate lab puppy with the broken tail once cast away in a garbage bag, who now stabilizes his partner’s panic attacks; to Ollie, the blind and deaf terrier, rescued moments before it was too late, who now soothes anxious children; to Jake Piper, the starving pit bull terrier mix with the wayward ears who is transformed into a working service dog and, who, for Charleson, goes from abandoned to irreplaceable.
Praise for The Possibility Dogs
“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. Some go on to assist the visually impaired, while others help soldiers returning from combat to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. Others aid sufferers of obsessive-compulsive disorder, allowing them to stay on task. While plenty of writers have shared their experiences of animal empathy, few have done so as well as Charleson (Scent of the Missing). An emotional high point is her description of Lexie, “a very light blond retriever from a bad situation who could use a little rescuing herself.” Charleson teams Lexie up with Nancy, an online friend who has treatment-resistant depression. Nancy is given new opportunities to function by her service animal. This is the rare book that can change minds about the reality of animals’ emotional lives. (June)” — Publisher’s Weekly, March 18, 2013 (starred review)
“What an amazing book. Combine love, knowledge, and real-life drama with pitchperfect writing, and you’ll end up with The Possibility Dogs. Simply brilliant!”— Patricia McConnell, author of The Other End of the Leash
“Reading The Possibility Dogs is like taking an amazing literary journey with a dear friend by your side. The characters you meet will enchant you, but the story-teller will capture your heart. If you love dogs, this is a can’t-miss book written by a kindred spirit.”— Jennifer Arnold, author of Through a Dog’s Eyes and In a Dog’s Heart
“An eloquent and heartwarming journey into the world of some very special dogs. Charleson is a great humanitarian who recounts her efforts to turn abandoned and shelter-bound dogs into special service dogs. She succeeds brilliantly and we cheer her every step of the way.”— Susan Richards, author of Chosen by a Horse
“Susannah Charleson is not a dog trainer who simply writes of dogs, but a true writer of lean, layered prose, who, like all fine writers, cannot help but tell us what lies closest to her heart and soul. The Possibility Dogs resonates with this — with desperate dogs and people close to the edge, who find each other, and in doing so, learn what is truly possible in life.”— Steve Duno, author of Last Dog on the Hill
“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