Thunder Dog – The True Story of a Blind Man, his Guide Dog & the Triumph of Trust – A Book Review

Few of us know what it’s like to be blind or even know a blind person. Just imagine being blind in today’s world, the challenges, but also the advantages provided by technology, and more acceptance of guide dogs by the public.

Blind people today can do almost anything if they are willing to try, and Michael Hingson tried everything.

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He was born prematurely and in the 1950s, the common practice was to place preemies in a high oxygen environment. Now doctors know that this practice can cause blindness. Thunder Dog book cover

Mike’s parents did not treat him as if he had a handicap. He went to regular school, played with kids in the neighborhood, even learned to ride a bicycle. He developed a skill similar to echolocation using sounds around him to “hear” doorways and parked cars. He even drove a car short distances around his college campus and flew and landed an airplane (with an assistant). Mike used Braille and screen readers and became a voracious reader who could solve physics problems in his head. He graduated with an advanced degree in physics and went into sales, earning over $100K/year. Mike thought he could do anything.

On September 11, 2001, Mike was in the North tower of the World Trade Center when an airplane struck the building above him. His guide dog, Roselle, helped him down 78 flights to escape the burning tower. If Roselle had lost focus and panicked, Mike may not have survived. Shortly after escaping the North tower, the South tower collapsed and released a powerful dust cloud, almost suffocating them.

Much of the book focuses on his escape with flashbacks to Mike’s childhood, as well as information about guide dogs, and prejudices people have about blind people.

After 911, Mike changed careers to become a famous spokesperson for the National Foundation for the Blind. Roselle was memorialized after she died and no other guide dog will ever have that name. The Roselle Dream Foundation was developed to raise funds to buy equipment for blind children so they can function as normal kids.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars.

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