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Publisher's Summary

In this powerful, soul-searching memoir, beautifully written in the vein of A Pack of Two and Wild, animal behaviorist Dr. Patricia McConnell recounts for the first time the compelling story of her dark past, memories of which are triggered by a troubled dog named Will.

World-renowned as a source of science and soul, Patricia McConnell combines brilliant insights into canine behavior - gained from her work with aggressive and fearful dogs - with heartwarming stories of her own dogs and their life on the farm. Now, she reveals that it wasn't just the dogs who had serious problems. For decades Dr. McConnell secretly grappled with her own guilt and fear, which were rooted in the harrowing traumas of her youth.

Patricia is forced to face her past by her love for a young border collie named Will, whose frequent, unpredictable outbreaks of fear and fury shake Patricia to her core. In order to save Will from this dangerous behavior, she must find her own will to heal and along the way learn that willpower by itself is not enough.

Interweaving enlightening stories of her clients' dogs with tales of her deepening bond with Will, Patricia recounts her fight to reclaim her life. Hopeful and inspiring, the redemptive message of her journey is that while trauma changes our brains and the past casts a long shadow, healing, for both people and dogs, is possible through hard work, compassion, and mutual devotion.

An Audible for Dogs Pick: Make your dog's day. Cesar Millan shares how audiobooks can make dogs happier and calmer. Learn more.
©2017 Patricia McConnell (P)2017 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

What members say

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Fabulous book!

I have listened to many books and I must say, this one surprised me. I was expecting a sweet dog story, which would have been fine. As a dog lover, I'm fine with hearing a good dog story now and then. But this is so much more! I think I can honestly say this book is going to change my life. This book reveals the author's personal journey through some very difficult situations that, although different from my life, helped me realize that I have some things I need to address from my own past. And the information shared about her dog and the work she has done with other dogs is going to help me tremendously in working with my 2-year old rescue. I am so glad I downloaded this book! The narration is excellent, the story is compelling and the author does an excellent job sharing her life story. I highly recommend this book!

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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A courageous and fascinating book

I was spellbound all the way through this book. Patricia McConnell is an excellent writer - she has several other books about dogs - but this is different. This one is not only about the difficulties one of her dogs experienced, it's about her journey, and how she has overcome the effects of trauma on her psyche and life. Truly an excellent memoir. And the narrator is excellent as well.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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A tale of healing and triumph over suffering.

I have read several of Patricia McConnell's dog training books, and found them to be full of practical advice, with many examples from her long career working with dogs that have behavioral issues. In this book McConnell describes her own journey with her border collie, Will, who has severe anxiety and also sustains serious physical injuries that required many months of rehabilitation and healing. In the course of her treatment plan for Will, Tricia begins to confront some dark and traumatic incidents from her past, and to heal herself in the process.

The book is written from an honest and cathartic viewpoint. It is encouraging to hear how a renowned expert struggled with her own dog's behavior. I had great sympathy for Tricia's trauma in her past and, as the story unfolded I found myself rooting for both of them. The story is written from the perspective of a survivor, not a victim, and Tricia gives an honest description of what it took to make that transition.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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A beautiful book

A wonderful book about loss, trauma, work and recovery. Both human and dog traumas are discussed with care and gentleness.
I work with dogs everyday and found this book a great source of help in dealing with dogs with anger, fear and unexplained behaviors. A must read. Chloe

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Holy Cow...

I once had a greyhound EXACTLY like this! And the intestinal explosions she describes--well, there is no way to describe them until you have lived them. I once went into a kitchen at 3am so utterly sprayed with diarrhea that one would have thought it had been sent from a garden sprinkler at full go. And the mindless barking and panic attacks! Man! (The thought that came from several directions, given the whole array of Fiona's symptoms was that some pervert had been using her for beastiality, and it took a year and a half to really get her settled at all, and she stayed a nervous dog her whole life.) McConnell does a good job of telling the tale of a troubled hound and a troubled person. She can get a bit purple in her prose at times, thinking herself more poet than dog trainer, but it's not bad, and I still give it five stars.

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Life Changing

I am a trauma survivor and just got a puppy a month ago. He is a little ball of milk chocolate fur, who I aptly named Mousse. This book helped understand why Mousse entered my life now. I am in counseling to recover from childhood trauma, I live alone. Mousse has brought immeasurable joy and healing to my heart and soul, he truly is my best friend and the love I feel for him can’t be explained with words.

This book drew the connection between my healing and the love of this puppy. I walk away changed for the better from reading this amazing book! I am grateful.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Not a dog story

I'm sorry Ms McConnell for your tragedies. I wanted and hoped for a book about a dog and not about your rape and other violence that has occurred to you. Perhaps if it hadn't been repeated so many times I could have stood for it. Maybe it's a good book but not for me, I couldn't finish.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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I loved every minute of this book!

I can't remember the last time I felt this connected to an author. Maybe it's because I'm a woman who works with sexual assault survivors, and because I train dogs, and have a degree in animal behavior, but this book touched me deeply. I loved the openness and honesty with which Patricia discusses some very painful life experiences. Patricia draws insightful parallels in behavior between herself and her dog Will. I'll be reading this again, and recommending it to many people.

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I also have a reactive dog.

I also have a reactive dog. I know how hard to live with and train a reactive dog. Dr. Patricia McConnell's story with her reactive dog, Will is very inspiring.

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Wow!

I just want to thank Patricia McConnell for sharing so much of her own story and explaining how working with Will helped them both overcome serious trauma and anxiety. This is a very inspirational book, and I have been deeply moved by Patricia's honesty and reflection.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful