weather icon Mostly Cloudy

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.
List: Christmas, holiday events in Pahrump region

Here is a look at Christmas and holiday-related events in the community. See full list at pvtimes.com and in the Nov. 27 Pahrump Valley Times newspaper print edition and in upcoming editions of the newspaper.

Pahrump community joins together for Thanksgiving feast

On a chilly day in the Pahrump Valley with the crispness of autumn singing in the air, hundreds gathered together for an afternoon of companionship, camaraderie and good food at the Community Outreach Thanksgiving Dinner.

Divas on a Dime: Puff pastry palmiers offer versatile holiday baking

Puff pastry is a freezer staple year-round, but I find myself using it constantly during holiday season. Its ease is matched only by its versatility. I’m sharing a technique for making palmiers that’s so easy it’s a perfect treat to make with your kids. Or if you’re like me it’s a perfect shortcut to making people think you’re an expert on French pastry.

Nevada producers reminded to sign up for program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week reminded producers in Nevada that the nationwide deadline to sign up for the Market Facilitation Program is today, Dec. 6.

Spring Mountain Medical’s toy drive is underway

The Christmas spirit is alive and well at Pahrump’s Spring Mountain Medical as doctors and staff are coordinating a toy drive once again this year.

Library gun ban proposal is set for consideration in Pahrump

The Pahrump Community Library Board of Trustees is set to address a very contentious issue, a possible ban on guns in the library’s story room, at its next meeting on Monday, Dec. 9.

Project at Duck Ponds in Pahrump

The duck ponds at the Nye County and town administration building at the Calvada Eye will be undergoing a thorough cleaning and repair project during the next couple of weeks, town government announced in a Dec. 3 Facebook post.