The Education of Will

A Mutual Memoir of a Woman and Her Dog
Narrated by: Ellen Archer
Length: 7 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (392 ratings)

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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

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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!

12 people found this 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.

3 people found this 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.

7 people found this helpful

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tough and moving memoir

Its empowering to hear how this strong woman faced her traumas head on.

I'm currently going through an unexpected breakup where I have strong feelings of abandonment/worthlessness. A friend recommended this book and I think it's been very helpful to hear her story.

Additionally, my sister has an aggressive dog and I was hoping this book could give further insight into his behavior. I think I respect that he's very fearful rather than inherently mean/angry after reading this book. I'm not sure I'm ready to live with the dog, but I do feel more compassion for him than I did before.

1 person found this helpful

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Beautifully written and read

I so enjoyed listening to this book. Parts were painful, others joyous, some funny, some sad. Just a wonderful read.

1 person found this 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 people found this 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 people found this helpful

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  • JP
  • 02-27-19

It's okay

The performance is very good. I will look for other books read by Ellen Archer. The author has had a compelling journey and triumphed over adversity with grace. The two star rating is because it was drawn out too much and repetitive. It could have been recounted in much less time with more impact. I fast forwarded through much of the second half.

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Nice story

Nice story but not well written. Still enjoyed it and would recommend to dog lovers.

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I couldn't recommend this book more...

I highly recommend this book to trama survivors and dog lovers. This book has been an emotional rollercoaster and I couldn't recommend it more!

This book is not directly about dog training, but about Patricia's battle with both her PTSD and her dog, Will.

Inspiring, emotional, and wonderful