After the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, Susannah Charleson was so impressed by the newspaper photo of an exhausted handler and his search-and-rescue dog that she decided to train a dog of her own....
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It was a clear, starry night in Glacier National Park. Fourteen-year-old Ted Systead and his father were camping peacefully beneath the rugged peaks and sweeping sky when the unimaginable happened....
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A practical, yet inspirational work that proposes it’s the inner world of our psyches that determines happiness, not outside forces....
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From the author of the critically acclaimed bestseller, Scent of the Missing, comes a heartwarming and inspiring story that shows how dogs can be rescued and can rescue in return.
For her first book, Susannah Charleson was praised for her unique insight into the kinship between humans and dogs, as revealed through canine search and rescue. In The Possibility Dogs Charleson chronicles her journey into the world of psychiatric-service and therapy dogs trained to serve the human mind, a journey that began as a personal one. After a particularly grisly search led to a struggle with PTSD, Charleson credits healing to her partnership with search dog Puzzle. Inspired by that experience and having met dogs formally trained to assist in such crises, 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.
From black Lab puppy Merlin, once cast away in a garbage bag, who stabilizes his partner’s panic attacks to Ollie, the blind and deaf terrier who soothes anxious children, to Jake Piper, the starving pit bull mix who goes from abandoned to irreplaceable, The Possibility Dogs illuminates a whole new world of canine potential.
What do you get when you take into your heart and into your home a dog that doesn't stand a chance? Devotion, Loyalty. Love without end.
And with service dogs, a chance to live a normal life.
So many of us take life for granted, living with occasional compulsions, flare ups of anxiety and fears, every now and then feeling disoriented, but there are those amongst us who are absolutely debilitated by these things. This is old news by now, but this book makes it real, yet again, gives us names, faces, emotions that are touching, and we wind up rooting for people who open their hearts and put their fates in the paws of the service dogs who save them. But really. What I like about this book is that it's such a chicken and the egg deal. Somebody saves the dog? The dog saves somebody else? That somebody continues to care for the dog? The dog continues to care for the person? Where does it begin, where does it end?
It doesn't matter, because it's wonderful, and so filled with hard work, faith, and hope that you wind up thinking about it long after your reading/listening time is over.
My only advice is to listen to it at x1.25 if you find Charleson's narration to drag. Even then, it's kind of slow going. Still, I enjoyed the emotion in her voice, and the tone, just too many pauses for my taste.
Wonderful book, great epilogue. Bravo to animal rescue and trainers!
18 of 18 people found this review helpful
For all the efforts my friends and I put into pulling dogs and cats from kill shelters, rounding up foster homes, and lobbying for laws mandating humane treatment and spay/neuter, none of that may be as effective at making the case to stop the mass killing of dogs as this book. With a calm and persuasive authorial voice, Susannah Charleson clearly shows with personal examples what a mostly untapped resource is sitting in our pounds and shelters. This book is an entertaining and poignant presentation of some of the ways that dogs can be utilized and trained as human assistants (for both physical and psychological disabilities) and clearly shows that our years of breeding dogs to work for us and with us has resulted in many animals with a proclivity to learn and assist - it's not a breed specific characteristic. I absolutely loved Susannah Charleson writing in both this book and her first book, Scent of the Missing, but I did not think her narration with this second book was as good as the first. For some reason, she has adopted the style of some professional narrators of kind of "tailing off" (no pun intended) her voice at the end of some phrases which can make it a little hard to hear especially with background noise (like in the car). However, I still highly recommend this very engaging audio book to anyone who cares about dogs or is interested in the types of therapies (and they are now MANY) in which dogs can assist (and potentially be trained by their owners).
20 of 21 people found this review helpful
What didn’t you like about Susannah Charleson’s performance?
I only give low performance marks if something about the performance makes it hard for me to enjoy the book. I actually like Charleson's voice, a dramatic whisper, and it is great for dramatic and serious moments. But she talks like that all the time even when describing at length how dogs receive a treat. But the real reason for the low mark is that the whispering made it hard to hear when listening in the car on my GPS.That aside I did like the book, and I am a cat person rather than a dog person, but the stories of the dogs in this book were very moving. Also liked the educational aspects of the rules for service dogs and the different tasks they do and how they are trained. I was hoping we might get some details about how a service dog is used for a child with autism but we didn't, but that is just because I am an autism mom so I would have found that interesting. Mostly, we see a lot of OCD. The book did drag a little at points though. I was pleased we didn't go into detail on any animal cruelty. I liked how Charleson brought us up to date on various characters at the end. Good wrap up.
16 of 18 people found this review helpful
I haven't been this moved and affected by a book since perhaps my reading of The Book Thief. At first, I wondered if Susannah Charleson was one of those cray "dog ladies", but very soon, I found I couldn't be more wrong about her. Wow, was I wrong! The more I listened, the more I realized what a very special person this author is. She is someone to be taken very seriously. She is someone to be admired.
This lady has the audacity to give a small, abandoned, very sick puppy a first and last name, Jake Piper! She is not the least bit hesitant to revive a dog with CPR. She knows how to fly a plane and is an actual flight instructor. She is an accomplished author. And most of all, very most of all, she loves and understands dogs to an extent I have not come across before. Listening to her book, you realize she sees dogs in a different way that most of us do, even those of us that purport to be dog lovers, like me. She sees into their souls, understanding their motivations and behaviors, and treats them like the true individuals they are.
Susannah Charleson has trained her dog, Puzzle, in search and rescue. She trains other dogs to be of service to people who have a wide variety of needs. She understands the needs for psychiatric service dogs, something I really wasn't familiar with. Seeing people who look perfectly normal with "service" or companion dogs, I have been less than kind in my thoughts in the past. However, now I understand what is going on and now I have more compassion. Listening to this book has made me a better person, I believe.
The stories the author tells, about several service dogs and the duties they perform, along with the stories of her own brood of pups, frequently brought tears to my eyes. Not so much tears of sadness, but of happiness and good feelings, that two such different creatures could work together so well for mutual benefit. This book is happy, funny, joyful, and yes, sometimes sad. Overall, I just call it wonderful.
I didn't have trouble with the author's narration. I did not find the book slow or find her voice trailing off. I had no complaints, and I feel it was a great narration.
This book was an unexpected treat for me. I just had to have more. I purchased the author's previous book about her experiences with her dog in doing search and rescue. It will be my next listen.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
Awesome book. EXCELLENT narration! Love, love, love the work Susannah is doing! Thank you for writing about your experiences!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I want to live in Susannah Charleson's world with her. There is no one better suited to telling her story than the author herself. Excellent and worthy follow up to Scent of the Missing which has become the book I most recommend to others. Brava and Thank you.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
What did you love best about The Possibility Dogs?
What did I not like about this book? Absolutely nothing!
What does Susannah Charleson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
It added to the value of this book, that the author did the reading. Now I will look for all of her work and read them as well, no matter the subject.
Any additional comments?
Thank You, Thank You!!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This book hit on a subject of great interest to me. Susannah gives great detail of her finding, discovering abilities and training dogs for service to people with a variety of needs. One wonderful part of this book is that many times she rescued a dog to save it and in turn the dog rescued a human. A big emphasis is on psychiatric-service dogs and therapy dogs. For me this book was hard to put down. It's a subject I'm deeply interested in.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
This was an extremely interesting book for me. The book begins by talking about attitudes towards psychiatric service dogs and service dogs for those with "invisible" disabilities. Since I work in the field of civil rights, including those with disabilities, I see this in my work and I absolutely get the difficulties these individuals face on a daily basis.
The author has developed her own foundation called Possibility Dogs, Inc., which I didn't realize until the end of the book. It is mentioned in the afterward and is not the focus of the book. What a great idea; this foundation helps to support those with service dogs in any way they can. The author tells her story in between stories about others who have the need of service dogs and the dogs themselves. I loved each and every story and there was never a time in this book when I was bored or felt my attention wander.
I could particularly relate to the story of Ollie T., an elderly blind dog who was left in a shelter. I have a 17 yr old blind and partially deaf shih-Tzu and this hit such an emotional chord with me. She is doing well in every other way, but I see her struggle with her lack of sight in familiar surroundings. I cannot even imagine having her face life in a shelter or other unfamiliar environment as a blind senior. My heart definitely went out to Ollie and I am so happy that he ended up with Susannah.
I listened to this on audio, and I am normally not a fan of author's reading their own books. There are exceptions, and I am happy to say that this is one of them. I enjoyed the narration, particularly as her empathy towards both the humans and the animals that she discusses came through loud and clear. I also have to say that one of the Goodreads groups that I belong to is reading this book this month, and the author has been participating in our discussions; this further humanizes the reading/listening experience. I definitely plan on reading her first book, Scent of the Missing, and hope to read future books by her!
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Oh yes. If you want to know how therapy dogs or just about learning the dog psyche, this is the book for you.
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Possibility Dogs?
Finding and training the right dog from a shelter.
Have you listened to any of Susannah Charleson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
Yes, I felt like this was much better for me then her other book that I listened to.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Yes! She sounds like such an amazing person.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful