weather icon Clear

Service dogs do more than help the blind

Timmy’s in the well.

And it’s a good thing your good-natured dog isn’t in charge of rescue. He doesn’t know anybody named Timmy, has no clue what a well is, and besides, he’s got his rawhide. Timmy’s in the well, he seems to say. Well, so what?

Yep, your dog has a one-track mind, one thing at a time. So wouldn’t you be surprised at what else he can do? In the new book “The Possibility Dogs” by Susannah Charleson, you’ll see his hidden potential.

As the human half of a Search-and-Rescue team, Susannah Charleson knows what it takes to teach a dog an important task. Using the innate talents and personality of her golden retriever, Puzzle, Charleson taught her girl to find lost or injured people.

So when Charleson met a man with a “psych dog” (a service dog for someone suffering psychiatric disorders), she was intrigued. Most everybody knows about guide dogs and hearing-assistance dogs, but what kind of canine Einstein would it take to help a person whose disabilities weren’t quite as visible?

With the encouragement of her extended pool of contacts, Charleson decided to find out. She already had a houseful (two cats, Puzzle, and a small herd of Pomeranians), but she began to search for the perfect-personality puppy — which arrived unexpectedly when a neighbor who knew about Charleson’s love of dogs hastily dropped off an emaciated, terribly sick, half-starved puppy at her Dallas-area doorstep.

Could this little guy be like Haska, who helps her person withstand PTSD? Would he be like Merlin, who assisted both father and son to overcome disabilities? Could the puppy be like Annie, who gives a teacher control over OCD; or like Juice Box, who helped his partner deal with depression and social problems? Could the puppy she named Jake Piper someday assist with loneliness, fear, illness, or isolation?

Or would he be just a dog — cherished, pampered and special only in the eyes of his human?

Charleson wasn’t sure if the little guy would be trainable, or even if he’d live. One thing was sure, though she was going to give him every possible chance…

Take a look at the cover of this book. Who could resist a face like that, huh? Not author Susannah Charleson, and in this wonderful book, you’ll meet that boy, and others — but don’t think that the potential in “The Possibility Dogs” is only canine.

Through interviews and personal experiences, Charleson shows how these highly-trained (though very intuitive) dogs can make an amazing difference in the lives of people who might have otherwise had to suffer at home, in silence. Those stories will touch your heart, and they might spur you to think about finding your own dog to raise or help. To that end, Charleson offers subtle advice with her addicting tales.

This slice-of-life is about dogs that nobody initially wanted — but if you’re a pet lover or are interested in service dogs, you’ll definitely want this book, so fetch “The Possibility Dogs.” It’s a story you’ll like very well.

“The Possibility Dogs” by Susannah Charleson, c.2013, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27.00 / $33.95 Canada, 260 pages.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Dilger, Study team to win Mike’s Midnight Madness

With the Nevada State Horseshoe Pitching Association championships in Tonopah just weeks away, Pahrump pitchers have been getting ready by competing in both NSHPA-sanctioned tournaments and the more informal backyard series tournaments.

Senior Menus

Pahrump Senior Center

Hundreds remember Dusty Park at Pahrump Valley Speedway

It was billed as a Celebration of Life for Dusty Park, and much of the afternoon felt like a celebration. There was laughter and sharing stories among the several hundred people who gathered Sunday at Pahrump Valley Speedway to remember him.

IN SEASON: The beat on beets

I’ve noticed that one of the most requested items at the Farmers Market is beets. It mystifies me because I am not a fan of the flavor. Beets are fun to grow though, and very versatile. They are also easy to grow and have a quick turn-around from seed to harvest.

Dedeic, Dunn capture Pahrump VFW horseshoes tournament

Dan Dunn and Mike Dedeic had to work overtime but came away with the victory in a horseshoes tournament Saturday hosted by the Clyde E. Newman Jr. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10054 in Pahrump.

IN SEASON: Mesquite, one of the desert’s most plentiful crops

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of attending the annual Mesquite pancake breakfast hosted by Great Basin Permaculture (now disbanded) in Las Vegas.

IN SEASON: Broccoli, the gem of a cool season vegetable garden

It may be hard to imagine as we head into Labor Day weekend with excessive heat warnings, but fall, with its cooler temperatures, is just around the corner. Fall brings not only cooler temperatures but a new growing season, and maybe even the easiest time to grow a garden in our year-round growing climate.