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My life as a border collie

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Title: My life as a border collie

Author: Nancy Johnson

Publisher: Central Recovery Press, 2012, Advanced Reader Copy

Reviewer: Anne Duell, registered general nurse, Birmingham Community NHS Trust

What was it like?

This book was nothing like I had imagined. It was so much more. Nancy addresses a serious subject in a manner that is light hearted, funny yet serious at the same time. She opens up her life journey, specifically how she compared her interaction with her pet border collie and her own co-dependency.

Nancy, a psychotherapist, starts by looking at the behavioural traits of her border collie called Daisy, and then discovering those co-dependent behaviours in herself. She explains how then both display similar mannerisms such as herding, being over attentive and trying to meet the needs of those around them, specifically that of her alcohol dependant partner.


It is an unusual concept to compare human nature, actions and reactions to that of the family pet. However, it does open up a considerable range of emotive and behavioural issues. 

Nancy refers to the roles, outlined by Wegscheider-Cruse (1989), of dependent, enabler, hero, scapegoat, lost child and mascot. Later she goes on to discuss the twelve steps of Co-dependents Anonymous, which was adapted from those from Alcoholics Anonymous. 

What were the highlights? 

The highlights in this book comes in the second part where there is a transition from theoretical learning and general description to describing character traits, describing them in context and developing learning opportunities and implementing these along the continuum of the co-dependent relationship.

Strengths & weaknesses:

The strength of this book is the sheer volume of material covered and the ease in which it is presented by the author.

Who should read it?

This book should be read by anyone wanting to learn more about co-dependency and the impact one person’s addiction can have on another. Anyone considering a career in counselling or works with patients or clients who have co-dependencies could benefit from reading this little gem.

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