About the Author
I accidentally came upon the title of this book when I was reading a touching article on service and therapy dogs. I didn’t have a pen with me at the time and you know how you say to yourself you’ll remember the title but then as soon as your mind goes onto the next thing you forget? Well, I didn’t forget the title of the book for 2 very good reasons. One, our boy Zeus‘ AKC name is Gingerbred Celestial Thunder (titles humbly omitted). And, two, one of my most favorite dogs, Bica (CH Nipntuck Jumpstart JH CGC) has a strong aversion to thunderstorms – so in a way, she’s my “thunder dog”. It just so happens that we are having a thunderstorm right now in Seattle and Bica is stuck like velcro to my leg and panting heavily. Poor thing.
I didn’t realize what the book was about until I actually picked it up. The cover draws you in with a picture of a yellow Labrador with her service harness in front of what appears to be a fireman with the words:”Thunder Dog is the true story of a blind man, his guide dog, and the triumph of trust at Ground Zero”. I opened the book knowing that when I close it, tears will have welled up in my eyes many times. As I start reading, the book is exactly what I expected and then not at all. It recounts in detail the day that Roselle (guide dog) and Michael Hingson (author) spend surviving September 11th. As the events of the day unravel, Michael interweaves stories about the challenges and triumphs of growing up blind. Michael was born premature and standard practice was to place the baby in an incubator with pure oxygen. It later was discovered that it caused blindness (eye disease called ROP, retinopathy of prematurirty) which was epidemic, affecting >10,000 premature babies, including the musician Stevie Wonder. What is unexpected about the book is how it educates the reader on blindness and how inspirational Michael is throughout his life which appears to be heavily influenced by his amazing parents who treated Michael like any other kid. He learns early on that it’s okay to be blind, it won’t ruin your life or lower your intelligence, and it won’t keep you from traveling or falling in love. He grows up with exceptional confidence which is bolstered by his constant companions and guide dogs. Yes, unfortunately dogs’ lives are not as long as humans so Michael has had a few in his life, but none as special as Roselle.
Roselle has been showered with awards for her role in 9/11, including the American Kennel Clubs’ ACE Award for Canine Excellence. The Guide Dogs for the Blind have retired her name so no future guide dog will ever be named Roselle. Roselle retired in 2007 when she developed a serious health issue called IMT (immune-mediated thrombocytopenia) which was likely related to her exposure to the environmental toxins and irritants she inhaled in the expansive dust clouds from the collapsing towers. Michael has started Roselle’s Dream Foundation with the mission to assist the blind with obtaining new technologies empowering them to learn, to work, and to maximize their success in today’s challenging world.
Michael found it difficult to talk about that day yet had been asked repeatedly to speak about it. His decision to do so was because he felt it might help people understand blindness better, it might help people understand how the guide dog relationship works, and it might help people move on from 9/11. He has many stories that prove his decision was a good one.
I found this book a compelling and touching read. The author really drew me in and gave me a greater appreciation and understanding for the lives of the blind and their canine companions.
Category : Book Reviews