BOOK NOTES AND PAW VOTES
A Book Review Column by The Colorado Canines and Jodene
The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero
by Michael Hingson
with Susy Flory
September 11, 2011, will mark the 10th anniversary of the tragic day of the terrorist attack upon the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D. C., and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It was a day that forever changed the lives of all Americans (and perhaps people worldwide) . It was also a day when Americans will never forget where they were or what they were doing when the news of these attacks became known. Many stories of extraordinary heroism and sacrifice have been told of that day, and our book choice this month will recount yet another incredible story. It is unique from other stories of that fateful day in that the subjects of the book are a brave guide dog, Roselle, and her plucky and courageous blind partner, author Michael Hingson. The narrative ultimately takes place inside Tower One of the World Trade Center.
Hingson was abruptly awakened from a sound sleep by a wet nose and whimpering at 12:30 A.M. on September, 11, 2001. A fierce storm was heading their way and his guide dog, Roselle, was afraid of storms. She was out of harness so she was behaving like an ordinary dog with normal fears. Hingson, realizing that Roselle will need him to weather the storm, arises and proceeds to his home office and works through the night. By all accounts he thought it would be a normal, albeit busy day at the office until the events of that historic day unraveled any plans he had to tackle his substantial workload.
Hingson arrived at his office on the 78th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 7:50 A.M. followed by co-worker David Frank and six other people arriving for sales training presentations. Computers are turned on and the routine of a normal workday begins. At 8:46 A.M. American Airlines Flight 11 crashes into the North Tower cutting through floors 93-99. In Hingson’s words:
“The building shudders violently, then starts to groan and slowly tip to the southwest. In slow motion, the tower leans over something like twenty feet.”
Not knowing what had happened, Hingson began to ponder the causes of the explosion. The building continues to tilt and Hingson and Frank fear the worst and say their tearful goodbyes. Slowly, though, the tilting stops and the building rights itself. Frank looks out the window to see smoke, fire and millions of pieces of burning paper flying through the air. Realizing they must evacuate the building, Hingson, Frank and Roselle begin their gutsy journey down the 1,463 steps of Stairwell B still unaware of the reason for the damage. We stop our interpretation of the story here so that the reader can experience the details of this dreadful day.
The reader will be riveted by this first person account of Hingson’s, Frank’s and Roselle’s descent and escape from the doomed building and the aftermath of the collapse of the Twin Towers. Roselle astounded guide dog experts because of her unflappable service beyond reasonable expectations during this harrowing experience, and she was decorated for her fearless service in the face of danger. More amazing, though, is the story of Michael Hingson…how every moment of his life up to that day allowed him to remain calm and confident in the face of death. Hingson’s story is a study of determination and inspiration.
In addition to this exciting story, the book also contains interesting insights into the pairing and training of guide dogs with their blind partners. Hingson also includes valuable resources and information concerning the needs of the blind and the rules for treatment of the blind by sighted individuals.
The Colorado Canines give Thunder Dog six paws up!
Jodene gives Thunder Dog five stars out of five!
Join us next month for another review of a book written for dogs and dog-lovers!