The Education of Will: Healing a Dog, Facing My Fears, Reclaiming My Life

When a troubled and aggressive young border collie named Will enters Dr. Patricia McConnell’s life, she is confronted with a problem that she has never faced in her decades working as a world-renowned animal behaviorist. Her special connection with Will triggers memories of harrowing traumas in Patricia’s own life and unearths a secret she had long repressed. In order to save Will from his dangerous behavior, Patricia must summon the courage to address her own buried emotional pain. On her journey to healing, with Will as her trusted companion, she transforms fear into compassion, confusion into insight, and isolation into empathy.

Beautifully written, interweaving enlightening accounts of other dogs she has helped with tales of her deepening bond with Will, The Education of Will chronicles Patricia’s fight to reclaim her life—and relieve Will’s fears in the process. Hopeful and inspiring, their story reminds us that, while trauma from the past casts a long shadow, healing is possible—for both people and dogs.

Price: $16.00

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Who Should Buy

Perhaps this is best answered by the review written by Dr. Karen London on Amazon:

“In this breathtakingly honest memoir, McConnell weaves her own story together with that of her fearful, reactive, challenging and deeply loved dog, Will. It is McConnell’s most powerful book, and so deeply personal that one can only imagine the courage it took to share her story. Though it contains the wisdom about dogs that we’ve come to expect from her, it is so much more than a book about dogs and our relationships with them. It is a riveting story about recovery, healing, trauma, terror and love, written with warmth, insight and humor.”


“The Education of Will delves deep into the minds of people and dogs, and into the effects of trauma, showing that healing is possible. McConnell gives a voice to those who can’t speak in words and provides hope for fearful animals everywhere.”
—Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make Us Human and Animals in Translation

“An unflinching look at trauma and how one woman grows beyond it—beside a wondrous, troubled spark of a dog who needs her help and helps her know herself. Wisdom earned in the hardest places, dog and human, brings with it a carrying message of hope. The Education of Will is riveting from the first page to the last.”
—Susannah Charleson, author of Scent of the Missing and The Possibility Dogs

“Patricia B. McConnell’s inspirational memoir, The Education of Will, is, above all, a book about redemption. McConnell faces her own history of trauma as she tries to understand and heal her fearful and reactive border collie, Willie. This book is filled with McConnell’s fascinating and often humorous insights about working with wonderful and sometimes wounded dogs. But this isn’t a book about training dogs. It’s much more. The Education of Will engages in an intimate and challenging conversation with the reader: about saving yourself, saving others, and allowing others to save you. It is original, powerful, heartwrenching in its honesty — and filled with a comforting, gentle grace.”
—Cat Warren, author of What the Dog Knows

Product Details

Description: Paperback
Publisher: Atria Books
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1501150159
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
Author: Patricia McConnell PhD
Publish Date: February 27, 2018
Number of Pages: 288

Look Inside

Another Excerpt:

“That night I sat on the couch and worried about this bundle of behavioral problems that I had brought into the house. I turned to see Willie watching me, his face baby-soft and expectant, his body wagging from the shoulders back. I moved off the couch and lay down beside him. He nuzzled into me, the side of his head pressing against my neck. I inhaled the scent from the top of his head, as a girlfriend had told me she’d breathe in the smell of her son’s hair, savor it, and yearn for it when they were apart.

Even as a tiny puppy, Willie wanted nothing more than to be with me, to cuddle against me with his face pressed against my neck or chest. Willie’s love of people was as extreme as his fear of dogs outside of his own pack. He loved everyone on two legs and appeared to be overjoyed that the world contained an infinite number of us. When friends came over to meet Willie, he’d stop for a second as he watched them get out of their cars, seemingly stunned by the appearance of yet another person. He’d quickly glance at me as if in amazement—“Look! There’s another one! I’ve found ANOTHER ONE!”—and then he’d charge forward, tail thumping, body soft and loose as he transported us into puppy rapture. . .

Something had sent Willie out into the world set on HIGH, like a blender with its last button pushed. Raising him was both wonderful and horrible. Underneath his craziness—his extreme reactions to unfamiliar dogs, his phobias about noises, his disastrous digestive system—I was sure there lived the dog we all want, brimming with love and loyalty, with a face that sparkles when you come home. But Willie desperately needed to feel safe and secure.

The thing was, so did I.”