Synopses & Reviews
An inspiring story that shows how dogs can be rescued, and can rescue in return.
With her critically acclaimed, bestselling first book, Scent of the Missing, Susannah Charleson was widely praised for her unique insight into the kinship between humans and dogs, as revealed through her work in canine search and rescue alongside her partner, golden retriever Puzzle.
Now, in The Possibility Dogs, 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 and#8211; from Merlin the chocolate lab puppy with the broken tail once cast away in a garbage bag, who now stabilizes his partnerand#8217;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.
"Award-winning memoirist (Firebird) and poet (School of the Arts) Doty explores, with compassion and intelligence, the complicated, loving territory inhabited by devoted dogs and their loyal humans. In 1994, when the author's longtime lover was dying of AIDS, beloved pet Arden kept the surviving partner afloat. A new adoptee, the rambunctious Beau, in his 'sloppy dog way,' becomes a part of the tribe and carries some of the burden of grief. Doty says Beau 'carried something else for me too, which was my will to live.' In a time of devastating pain, as well as in happier times, Doty's two dogs are the 'secret heroes of my own vitality.' The dog characters in the book are irresistible, and the arcs of their lives are delineated with the tenderness and passion of the truly smitten. Arden's quiet nobility and slow decline breaks the heart, while Beau's goofy enthusiasm peaks with youth and mellows in illness. With a marvelous ability to present the pain of mourning with a poet's delicate hand, and an irrepressible instinct for joy, Doty delivers a soulful love story which illuminates no less than the big human mysteries: attachment, death, grief, loyalty, happiness. The book nimbly sidesteps sentimentality and lands squarely on a philosophical, inquisitive tone as intellectually evocative as it is emotionally resonant." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"I haven't owned a dog since childhood....I thought I might be indifferent, maybe even bored. Instead, I was charmed, moved, often fascinated." Chicago Sun-Times
Both moving and entertaining, Dog Years is the story of two beloved retrievers and is a pointed, perceptive meditation on life, death, and the nature of companionship.
Why do dogs speak so profoundly to our inner lives? When Mark Doty decides to adopt a dog as a companion for his dying partner, he finds himself bringing home Beau, a large golden retriever, malnourished and in need of loving care. Beau joins Arden, the black retriever, to complete their family. As Beau bounds back into life, the two dogs become Mark Doty's intimate companions, his solace, and eventually the very life force that keeps him from abandoning all hope during the darkest days. Their tenacity, loyalty, and love inspire him when all else fails.
Dog Years is a remarkable work: a moving and intimate memoir interwoven with profound reflections on our feelings for animals and the lessons they teach us about life, love, and loss. Mark Doty writes about the heart-wrenching vulnerability of dogs, the positive energy and joy they bring, and the gift they bear us of unconditional love.
A book unlike any other, Mark Doty's surprising meditation is radiantly unsentimental yet profoundly affecting. Beautifully written, Dog Years is a classic in the making.
From the moment when we first open our homesandmdash;and our heartsandmdash;to a new pet, we know that one day we will have to watch this beloved animal age and die. The pain of that eventual separation is the cruel corollary to the love we share with them, and most of us deal with it by simply ignoring its inevitability.and#160;With The Last Walk
, Jessica Pierce makes a forceful case that our pets, and the love we bear them, deserve better. Drawing on the moving story of the last year of the life of her own treasured dog, Ody, she presents an in-depth exploration of the practical, medical, and moral issues that trouble pet owners confronted with the decline and death of their companion animals. Pierce combines heart-wrenching personal stories, interviews, and scientific research to consider a wide range of questions about animal aging, end-of-life care, and death. She tackles such vexing questions as whether animals are aware of death, whether they're feeling pain, and if and when euthanasia is appropriate. Given what we know and can learn, how should we best honor the lives of our pets, both while they live and after they have left us?and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;
The product of a lifetime of loving pets, studying philosophy, and collaborating with scientists at the forefront of the study of animal behavior and cognition, The Last Walk asksandmdash;and answersandmdash;the toughest questions pet owners face. The result is informative, moving, and consoling in equal parts; no pet lover should miss it.
A uniquely personal, moving, and inspiring journey into the rapidly emerging world of psychiatric service dogs, as Susannah Charleson works as an evaluator in shelters, plucking unwanted dogs, big and small, training them for this unique kind of service, and matching them with people in need.
About the Author
Susannah Charleson is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Scent of the Missing, as well asandnbsp;a flight instructor, service dog trainer, and canine search-and-rescue team member, who most recently began a non-profit organization called The Possibility Dogs, which rescues, trains, and places dogs with people suffering "unseen" disabilities.andnbsp;She lives with her search partner, Puzzle, a golden retriever certified for the recovery of missing persons, her service dog partner-in-training, Jake Piper, a German shepherd-pit bull-poodle mix, as well as a rabble of pomeranians, a chihuahua-cairn terrier mix, and two cats.
Table of Contents
1: Final Odyssey
The Ody Journal, September 29, 2009and#8211;January 15, 2010
2: Into the Open
The Ody Journal, March 14, 2010and#8211;June 3, 2010
The Ody Journal, June 5, 2010and#8211;September 4, 2010
The Ody Journal, September 20, 2010and#8211;October 24, 2010
5: Animal Hospice
The Ody Journal, October 25, 2010and#8211;November 28, 2010
6: Blue Needle
The Ody Journal, November 29, 2010and#8211;December 7, 2010
The Ody Journal, November 29, 2011