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A Dog's Gift: The Inspirational Story of Veterans and Children Healed by Man's Best Friend

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A decade ago, former military counterintelligence officer Terry Henry joined his precocious young daughter, Kyria, on a trip to a nursing home in order to allow its residents to play with their family dog, a golden retriever named riley. Terry was astounded by the transformations that unfolded before his eyes. Soon after, Terry and Kyria started their service dog organizat A decade ago, former military counterintelligence officer Terry Henry joined his precocious young daughter, Kyria, on a trip to a nursing home in order to allow its residents to play with their family dog, a golden retriever named riley. Terry was astounded by the transformations that unfolded before his eyes. Soon after, Terry and Kyria started their service dog organization, paws4people, with the goal of pairing dogs with human beings in need of healing, including traumatized and wounded war veterans and children living with physical, emotional, and intellectual disabilities.In A Dog’s Gift, award-winning journalist and author Bob Drury movingly captures the story of a year in the life of paws4people and the broken bodies and souls the organization mends. The book follows the journey of pups bred by the organization from their loving, if rigorous, early training to an emotional event that terry and Kyria have christened "the bump," where each individual service dog chooses its new owner through an almost mystical connection that ignites the healing process. incorporating vivid storytelling, insights into canine wisdom, history, science, and moving tales of personal transformation, A Dog’s Gift is a story of miracles bound to be embraced by not only the 60 million Americans who own dogs, but by anyone with a full heart and a loving soul.


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A decade ago, former military counterintelligence officer Terry Henry joined his precocious young daughter, Kyria, on a trip to a nursing home in order to allow its residents to play with their family dog, a golden retriever named riley. Terry was astounded by the transformations that unfolded before his eyes. Soon after, Terry and Kyria started their service dog organizat A decade ago, former military counterintelligence officer Terry Henry joined his precocious young daughter, Kyria, on a trip to a nursing home in order to allow its residents to play with their family dog, a golden retriever named riley. Terry was astounded by the transformations that unfolded before his eyes. Soon after, Terry and Kyria started their service dog organization, paws4people, with the goal of pairing dogs with human beings in need of healing, including traumatized and wounded war veterans and children living with physical, emotional, and intellectual disabilities.In A Dog’s Gift, award-winning journalist and author Bob Drury movingly captures the story of a year in the life of paws4people and the broken bodies and souls the organization mends. The book follows the journey of pups bred by the organization from their loving, if rigorous, early training to an emotional event that terry and Kyria have christened "the bump," where each individual service dog chooses its new owner through an almost mystical connection that ignites the healing process. incorporating vivid storytelling, insights into canine wisdom, history, science, and moving tales of personal transformation, A Dog’s Gift is a story of miracles bound to be embraced by not only the 60 million Americans who own dogs, but by anyone with a full heart and a loving soul.

30 review for A Dog's Gift: The Inspirational Story of Veterans and Children Healed by Man's Best Friend

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kirsti

    I would first like to state that my rating has nothing to do with the work done by the charity represented in this book, Paws4people. It is entirely in the way the book was written and the format that the author has chosen that reflect for me, a poor score. Firstly, putting himself into the story never really worked for me. I wanted to know how the dogs interacted with their people, and maybe with their previous trainers. I wanted to know more about their lives together, but instead the author p I would first like to state that my rating has nothing to do with the work done by the charity represented in this book, Paws4people. It is entirely in the way the book was written and the format that the author has chosen that reflect for me, a poor score. Firstly, putting himself into the story never really worked for me. I wanted to know how the dogs interacted with their people, and maybe with their previous trainers. I wanted to know more about their lives together, but instead the author puts himself into the story, telling it from his point of view and adding his odd commentary. It frustrated me, especially since the title claims to be the story of Veterans and children healed by Man's best friend. I needed more of this. I also didn't really see the significance of the birthing sequence constantly cropping up, since the pups haven't been bumped with any of the people in the book yet. I would have preferred more back story on the dogs and the people united with them through the course of the book. Now that I've gotten the reasons why I didn't like this actual book off my chest, I will reiterate that the charity work done by this group is obviously awesome and it is a five star rating all on its own. They match dogs with people that truly need them, provide training etc. They obviously love dogs AND people. I just wanted more of the dogs and less of the author.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    I wanted to like this book... but between the writing about children with "horrendous handicaps", the paws4people jabs at the way other service dog organizations do things... I just wasn't feeling it. The writing style seemed too close to the organization to make it feel more wide-ranging. I wanted to like this book... but between the writing about children with "horrendous handicaps", the paws4people jabs at the way other service dog organizations do things... I just wasn't feeling it. The writing style seemed too close to the organization to make it feel more wide-ranging.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Monical

    I agree, this was an inspirational book, but would be improved with additional editing. I was disappointed that none of the areas of the book were covered in any depth. I would have liked to learn more about the prison training programs, the training of the dogs, more about the dogs in general, and maybe a little less about the clients. If you like this book, I recommend "How Dogs Love Us" which goes further into the workings of the canine brain. "Inside of a Dog" is also very good. and also one I agree, this was an inspirational book, but would be improved with additional editing. I was disappointed that none of the areas of the book were covered in any depth. I would have liked to learn more about the prison training programs, the training of the dogs, more about the dogs in general, and maybe a little less about the clients. If you like this book, I recommend "How Dogs Love Us" which goes further into the workings of the canine brain. "Inside of a Dog" is also very good. and also one of my favorite jokes, attributed to Mark Twain-- Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend; inside of a dog, its too dark to read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    The author profiles a well-known service/assistance/therapy dog program, paws4people, after being introduced to one of their clients during his previous research on service members who have returned home from the front lines. Although I wasn't familiar with the program, I actually did know of one of the families mentioned in the book, as I had read news articles about the separation of the Buckles sisters, who were born conjoined, and followed their blog, including updates on Erin, who was left The author profiles a well-known service/assistance/therapy dog program, paws4people, after being introduced to one of their clients during his previous research on service members who have returned home from the front lines. Although I wasn't familiar with the program, I actually did know of one of the families mentioned in the book, as I had read news articles about the separation of the Buckles sisters, who were born conjoined, and followed their blog, including updates on Erin, who was left paralyzed as a result of complications from the surgery and has an assistance dog provided by paws4people. Telling pieces of the paws4people story with each chapter opening with Claire, one of paws4people's dogs who is both an assistance dog for a retired servicewoman and a breeding female for the program, delivering another puppy in what was her final litter before being retired from that job. We learn about the origins of the program, which started with young Kyra Henry wishing to take her family's golden retriever to the local nursing home to cheer up the residents and her father, Terry, providing transportation and quickly evolved into the family adding more goldens and taking them to special education classrooms in schools too, with Terry handling some of the dogs so that more people would have a chance to interact with the dogs. As Terry and Kyra saw the impact the dogs were having in just short visits, they realized the potential dogs could have when paired one-on-one with humans who needed them. From there, Drury talks about the training of puppies in women's prisons before 'bump' day when the dogs choose their humans (many programs do the opposite or simply assign a dog to a human, but the Henrys have found that the results are excellent when the dog does the choosing), the further training to ensure the dog is capable of meeting the needs of their human, and the process of acclimating the humans to their new partners. The program hasn't abandoned its original purpose either, as p4p dogs also continue to make the rounds at schools and senior citizen facilities as general therapy dogs, particularly dogs who haven't 'bumped' with a particular person but are ready to leave prison, or dogs who don't end up making the grade while in prison and are offered as pets with the capability to be certified as therapy dogs with a little more training by their new families. Overall a nice look at an organization that is doing a great thing, particularly with our wounded veterans and use of not only golden retrievers bred for the purpose of becoming p4p dogs, but also rescue dogs, some of whom are former strays from overseas that accompanied the wounded soldiers home and have already bonded with them.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Katie Avagliano

    I’m a volunteer puppy raiser for the Seeing Eye and have been since I was 11 years old. 16 years later we have 6 pups guiding and we’re raising number 13. That’s the context I have approaching service dogs. Some things that bug me about this book: 1. They describe facility dogs — dogs that work with able-bodied people in therapy settings — but also call them “service dogs” and describe the dog’s being at dinner in a restaurant with their able-bodied handlers. Maybe this is a dog-friendly restaura I’m a volunteer puppy raiser for the Seeing Eye and have been since I was 11 years old. 16 years later we have 6 pups guiding and we’re raising number 13. That’s the context I have approaching service dogs. Some things that bug me about this book: 1. They describe facility dogs — dogs that work with able-bodied people in therapy settings — but also call them “service dogs” and describe the dog’s being at dinner in a restaurant with their able-bodied handlers. Maybe this is a dog-friendly restaurant, but the blurring of the line between service dog (who helps disabled people) and therapy dog is unhelpful and misleading to most people reading this. 2. Both Terry and Kyria come off as harsh and cruel to the people they serve. They almost didn’t provide a dog to a female vet because she wouldn’t disclose if she had been sexually as well as physically assaulted? What the hell? You don’t deserve access to anyone else’s trauma. 3. Why is everyone a volunteer? Shouldn’t they pay the people who are helping grow their business? Seems fishy. 4. The constant digs at then”guide dog industrial complex.” The lack of knowledge about guide dogs (only dogs born and raised in the Seeing Eye in NJ are Seeing Eye dogs.) Comes off as a lack of research. Guide dog orgs have resources that can help other service dogs. Don’t alienate them. 5. Why is the author using this book to talk about his relationship with his son? Like, sorry. Who cares? 6. The worst for me — the reason guide dog schools drop about 30% of their dogs before they make it as guide dogs is because their ultimate goal is enhancing the lives of blind people. They just happen to do that through dogs. The dog is not the goal — the independence is the goal. Here is seems like the dog is the goal. There’s not enough client-minded focus. Are you here for the dog? Or are you here to help your fellow man?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    I won this book for free from the Goodreads free book giveaway contest and what a joy this book is. My only regret was taking way too long to read it. Honestly, I was a little worried that it would hit too close to home, so I shelved it. I would look at it and avoid it knowing from my own experiences how things can affect me. As a disabled veteran, I know too well the pitfalls, so I was scared. I had heard of the paws4people organization through my volunteer work at my local animal shelter. I've I won this book for free from the Goodreads free book giveaway contest and what a joy this book is. My only regret was taking way too long to read it. Honestly, I was a little worried that it would hit too close to home, so I shelved it. I would look at it and avoid it knowing from my own experiences how things can affect me. As a disabled veteran, I know too well the pitfalls, so I was scared. I had heard of the paws4people organization through my volunteer work at my local animal shelter. I've worked with various organizations on improving shelter animals quality of life, especially Dogs Playing For Life or DPFL, and that was life-changing work. I love it. So anyways, this book was an absolute joy to read and I thank God I won it. If you can get through this book without letting a few tears flow, I'd be surprised. I appreciate how so many people are working to help others struggling with surviving, with every day life challenges. And what really captivates me about P4P, is it isn't just military centric. They incorporate children with disabilities too. Which is fantastic. So please, please, please read this book and then go and look up p4p. See what they really do. See how they positively affect and save lives. If you can donate, anything helps. And I'm not affiliated in any way with P4P in case you're wondering. But this book does give a great view into this program, the lengths it takes to train a service dog, and IMO helps to give us, the reader, a look into something most of us have never thought a single second about. Thank you Mr. Drury

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    This audio book version of Bob Drury's close up examination of the non-profit paws4people, which trains and places service dogs with ptsd and disabled veterans and special needs children, is my favorite non-fiction book for this year. Simply fascination, the book tells story after story of the bonds formed and the transformations achieved between dog and owner. From dogs that can "read" simple written commands to another that would place grocery items on the check-out conveyor belt and then take This audio book version of Bob Drury's close up examination of the non-profit paws4people, which trains and places service dogs with ptsd and disabled veterans and special needs children, is my favorite non-fiction book for this year. Simply fascination, the book tells story after story of the bonds formed and the transformations achieved between dog and owner. From dogs that can "read" simple written commands to another that would place grocery items on the check-out conveyor belt and then take a credit card from his pouch for payment, the dogs' abilities are just amazing. Also amazing is that most of the paws4people dogs are trained by prison inmates and that the dogs end up choosing their own owners is a ceremony called the bump. This wonderful organization all come from the dreams of a young girl Kyria Henry who convinced her dad, a former military counterintelligence officer, that their golden retriever should visit a local nursing home. Now an adult, Kyria, along with her father are the lifeblood of paws4people. I obtained the audio book through Wisconsin Public Library Consortium/OVERDRIVE, and I recommend it for pet lovers. Posted by Sue W at 2:59 PM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest

  8. 5 out of 5

    Judy Guider

    3.5-4 stars. An interesting book about an organization that matches support dogs with veterans with war related injuries (ptsd, tbi, physical injuries) and children with physical, emotional and/or learning difficulties. We learn why certain breeds work better, trading expectations, and matching dogs with people. We learn that these amazing dogs help to transform lives. It would have been great to have selected a few more people, including a trainer, and see more of the process of transformation 3.5-4 stars. An interesting book about an organization that matches support dogs with veterans with war related injuries (ptsd, tbi, physical injuries) and children with physical, emotional and/or learning difficulties. We learn why certain breeds work better, trading expectations, and matching dogs with people. We learn that these amazing dogs help to transform lives. It would have been great to have selected a few more people, including a trainer, and see more of the process of transformation rather than mostly the “before” and “after”. The book highlights a great organization making lives better for people deserving the help.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Stinson

    Paws 4 People no doubt does great work, changing lives for the better, but I feel I’ve waded through a lot of words to get to the stories I was hoping to hear. I’m also tired of the narrator’s apparent need to give men tough-guy voices and women whiny voices and an hour from the end of the book may not bother to finish it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chas

    Audiobook. 5 or 6 stars for the parts of the book concerning how awesome dogs, and what they do, are. 2 or 3 stars for the parts of the book that by the end are somewhat tedious--concerning the organization and some of the satellite people. Metaphorically, if you have a hole in your heart that needs some bondo, read this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Regina

    A warm and wonderful story of two people who created the wonderful organization, Paws4People, and have helped so many children and adults with special needs, especially veterans, with support dogs. Fascinating.

  12. 4 out of 5

    MMc14

    I really enjoyed this book. The learning about dogs, and their interactions with people, was my favorite part.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Judi Hoggatt

    Great book about Paws4People. Providing service dogs to vets, PTSD, disabled kids, etc. about the start of organization by Terry Henry and his daughter Kyria.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Darlene Stericker

    An awe inspiring story about paws for people service dogs.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Wallace

    Great story, from PTSD war veteran to founding a Service dog organization

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Buss

    This book describes the balancing game of realistic expectations while helping others help themselves. Heartwarming, inspiring stories that have also made me better at training my dogs.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Great story about Service dogs with truly passionate and dedicated people

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rena Sherwood

    Predictably heartwarming treacly sweet affair about one therapy dog organization. This is an awfully short book for chronicling one year in paws4people. The title is a bit misleading. The Story of Paws4People would have been more accurate. This reads more like a long Chicken Soup for the Soul essay than anything approaching a factual look at therapy dogs in America. There is not much about the dogs themselves, which is highly annoying. They are treated like Virgin Mary sightings -- they sort of Predictably heartwarming treacly sweet affair about one therapy dog organization. This is an awfully short book for chronicling one year in paws4people. The title is a bit misleading. The Story of Paws4People would have been more accurate. This reads more like a long Chicken Soup for the Soul essay than anything approaching a factual look at therapy dogs in America. There is not much about the dogs themselves, which is highly annoying. They are treated like Virgin Mary sightings -- they sort of flit in and out of the text. There's practically nothing about training methods or even why prisoners are used for main training and not the organization itself. Shelter dogs are run down but then again are shown to be shining stars in the program. Nothing is mentioned of the death of the dog the book is dedicated to (the foundation dog of paws4people) other than "suddenly died." What the hell happened to her? Why the big mystery? It's unanswered big questions like this that make me turn sour on this book. I haven't read anything else by Drury but this book had to've been a disappointment for readers of his previous works since Drury constantly mentions how different this book is to his other written work. Therapy dogs are worth their weight in solid gold but this book makes me wonder about how soon paws4People is going to crash or have some sort of scandal. It just sounds too good to be true. And the paws4people apparently frown on other therapy dog programs. Wha ---?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jane Night

    I think how good this book is depends on a person’s expectations going in. It gives a very basic overview of how Paws4People works and so anyone looking for a deep insight into the organization might be disappointed. The reader is told a bit about it’s founding, how the dogs are trained, and how they are matched but this book doesn’t have the feel of an in depth documentary about the organization. The subtitle of the book is “the Inspirational story of Veterans and Children Healed By Man’s Best F I think how good this book is depends on a person’s expectations going in. It gives a very basic overview of how Paws4People works and so anyone looking for a deep insight into the organization might be disappointed. The reader is told a bit about it’s founding, how the dogs are trained, and how they are matched but this book doesn’t have the feel of an in depth documentary about the organization. The subtitle of the book is “the Inspirational story of Veterans and Children Healed By Man’s Best Friend.” While the book does tell some stories about people who received dogs from the organization this isn’t like a chicken soup book either. The stories overall are shallow and barely scratch the surface of how the dogs changed their person’s lives. Many stories are told but they are basically a few paragraphs long about a person’s story and how the dogs helped them. Deep down I think this book is more about showing the connection between dogs and how that connection can be used to help those with disabilities. Many scenes in the book, such as watching the dogs get matched (bumped) to their new owners are awesome and made me cry. I am a huge dog lover and so I really enjoyed this story and it certainly made me want to donate to the organization. If I had to describe this book I would say it was a brief intro to the Paws4People program. It gives an overview of who they are, what they do, and who they help. Expect lots of tears.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Mills

    I thought this book was exactly what the subtitle said" The inspirational story of the veterans and children healed by mans best friend". This book did not claim to be a ' how to' book, and it was not just about the dogs so if that is what you are looking for, it is not for you. My bias is I have three dogs, and I enjoy reading true stories about dogs and their different personalities and achievement. There are few books in this vein, compared to millions of books about people and their activiti I thought this book was exactly what the subtitle said" The inspirational story of the veterans and children healed by mans best friend". This book did not claim to be a ' how to' book, and it was not just about the dogs so if that is what you are looking for, it is not for you. My bias is I have three dogs, and I enjoy reading true stories about dogs and their different personalities and achievement. There are few books in this vein, compared to millions of books about people and their activities. I enjoyed the time line of the story. I thought it was well written and gave an insight into the world of these tremendously committed people, and the history of how they came to be doing this work. I liked the pictures also. Clearly a lot of thought and work went into the writing of this book and I would like to thank Mr Drury for giving his time to this project and sharing the many stories which I did indeed find MOST inspiring.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Milmine

    This book was amazing, to see how this Father and Daughter started this amazing gift for all the people who need help from children, injured Veterans ect. and the way they did the bumping process was great that they let the dogs pick who they wanted to help and was most drawn too. I did not want this book to end, these dogs are an inspiration of affection, love and caregiving. Amazing from the birth of these dogs to the end process and the happiness they brought to the person in need. Thank you This book was amazing, to see how this Father and Daughter started this amazing gift for all the people who need help from children, injured Veterans ect. and the way they did the bumping process was great that they let the dogs pick who they wanted to help and was most drawn too. I did not want this book to end, these dogs are an inspiration of affection, love and caregiving. Amazing from the birth of these dogs to the end process and the happiness they brought to the person in need. Thank you so much for this book and I greatly recommend this book to everyone not just dog lovers, you will be amazed.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    I listened to this as an audiobook. This was not as good as I hoped, but some of it was not the most interesting. I wish there would have been more stories about the dogs and the people they were placed with. I did find it interesting how the dogs were trained by prisoners in a couple prisons, I believe in West Virginia and later how the dogs more or less picked the people they were to be match with. Some of the stories also just were not necessary to this book. For these reasons I feel this boo I listened to this as an audiobook. This was not as good as I hoped, but some of it was not the most interesting. I wish there would have been more stories about the dogs and the people they were placed with. I did find it interesting how the dogs were trained by prisoners in a couple prisons, I believe in West Virginia and later how the dogs more or less picked the people they were to be match with. Some of the stories also just were not necessary to this book. For these reasons I feel this book should actually be 2.5 stars.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    yes, the title is a bit misleading. yes, it's sort of odd that the author, a journalist, inserts himself into the process and the narrative. But overall, a strong strong that gives us a glimpse into what it's like to birth, raise, train and benefit from service dogs. Brings awareness to the very struggle veterans have with PTD and how dogs can alleviate some of the day to day stress. Watch for the author, Drury, to speak 4/16/16 at the Annapolis Book Festival, #ABF #keyschool.org yes, the title is a bit misleading. yes, it's sort of odd that the author, a journalist, inserts himself into the process and the narrative. But overall, a strong strong that gives us a glimpse into what it's like to birth, raise, train and benefit from service dogs. Brings awareness to the very struggle veterans have with PTD and how dogs can alleviate some of the day to day stress. Watch for the author, Drury, to speak 4/16/16 at the Annapolis Book Festival, #ABF #keyschool.org

  24. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    This book made me laugh, cry and be thankful for what I have in life. I won this book on Goodreads, and now I feel like I need to share it, first up, my husband. I am also going to reach out, and see, if they could use some help here in my area. Thanks to Bob Drury for putting in the time and research that he went through in doing this book. Highly recommend to all to read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sandi Poyer

    I don't normally read non-fiction and sad dog stories are difficult for me but this one was an inside look at an exceptional program that trains dogs for veterans, special needs children, etc. Admirable work. The author is a journalist who has reported from war-torn countries. I don't normally read non-fiction and sad dog stories are difficult for me but this one was an inside look at an exceptional program that trains dogs for veterans, special needs children, etc. Admirable work. The author is a journalist who has reported from war-torn countries.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cait

    Amazing stories that shed passion and truth about the healing powers dogs have to save humans in need.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Well done. Very engaging and educational. Love the way he has the puppies being born at the beginning of each chapter. And, of course, gorgeous cover and photos inside of the dogs. (Library)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    great book and such a great organization

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    I enjoyed this book very much

  30. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    This book is mostly about the paws4people organization. It was interesting learning how they run their program, utilizing prisoners for some of the training of the dogs and allowing the dogs to pick their people and then training them for their specific needs. I wanted this story to be a bit deeper and I'll admit, the digs at how other similar organizations do things differently got annoying. Of course this organization thinks their own methods are the best or they wouldn't be doing it that way, This book is mostly about the paws4people organization. It was interesting learning how they run their program, utilizing prisoners for some of the training of the dogs and allowing the dogs to pick their people and then training them for their specific needs. I wanted this story to be a bit deeper and I'll admit, the digs at how other similar organizations do things differently got annoying. Of course this organization thinks their own methods are the best or they wouldn't be doing it that way, but I think the information on their own program could be shared without putting down other methods. I also wanted more about the dogs and the people they were matched with. I also wish the organization was more open to using rescue dogs rather than breeding more purebred dogs. There are so many amazing dogs waiting in shelters. Overall, an interesting read, but I'd hoped for a bit more.

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