With the events of 9/11 forever etched in my memory, I was eager to read “Thunder Dog” by Michael Hingson with Suzy Flory. As the subtitle tells, it’s “The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog & the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero.”
Reading a story about a man who survived the September 11th terrorist attack on the World Trade Center is compelling enough. But add to the story the fact that the man, Michael Hingson, is blind, has a guide dog Roselle and has to descend 78 stories on foot to get to safety and you have a gripping survival account by an unforgettable pair.
The story is well told, with a moment by moment account of Michael and Roselle’s escape, along with colleague David Frank from their office located on the 78th floor in Tower I of the World Trade Center. Interspersed with the details of that fateful day are stories of Michael’s life.
Michael was born two months premature and was blind due to pure oxygen he received as part of the standard medical treatment for premature babies. Michael parents didn’t listen to the doctor’s advice about putting him in a home for the blind. Instead they brought him home and raised their son no differently from his older brother Ellery. Before he ever had a guide dog or white cane, Michael was expected to grow, learn and explore his neighborhood on his own two feet. This boy had a spirit of adventure and he learned to ride a bike and even drive a car. Michael’s feisty can-do spirit helped to prepared him to survive the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Through Michael’s story we learn about the bond between a blind person and their guide dog. Roselle is a special dog and was able to keep her focus and concentrate on guiding her master down 78 flights of stairs and through the streets of New York filled with debris and a monstrous toxin filled dust cloud that pursued survivors running from the World Trade Center.
I highly recommend this book. It was a gripping, interesting and unique story of survival by Michael Hingson and his guide dog Roselle. “Thunder Dog” is a touching and memorable book.