Personal stories of service dogs in action.
Through personal interviews and behind-the-scenes tales, Greene (No Biking in the House without a Helmet, 2011, etc.) tells multiple narratives of service dogs that have changed lives. Most of the people these dogs help are children who are considered too disabled by many groups to be partnered with a dog. They may have severe autism, been born premature with multiple ailments, or been raised in a foreign orphanage where they were severely neglected. All of them have had considerable luck in adapting to their circumstances with specially trained dogs at their sides. These dogs are available to the children thanks to Karen Shirk, who, in her 20s, was struck down by a debilitating neuromuscular disease that left her in a wheelchair and dependent on a service dog. After connecting deeply with her own dog, she began 4 Paws for Ability. Considering the case and each child’s specific needs, Shirk and her trainers match a dog to the special needs child, often with amazing results. At 4 Paws, the training is focused on the partnership between the child and the dog. As one trainer told Greene, “it’s not just what does the client need. It’s about how a dog can meet those needs in ways that are really fun and rewarding for the dog. Dogs love having important work to do, and being needed and involved every minute of the day. They flourish in their families.” The author compassionately interweaves these personal successes with scientific facts about dogs, the bonding that occurs between a human and a dog, and the loss or grief a dog may feel if a child should die.
Dog lovers, parents of special needs kids, and those who love feel-good stories will delight in these heartwarming portraits of dogs and their families.