Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thunder Dog

Where were you on September 11th? Where were you when you heard that our country was under attack? Jesse and I were on our way to work. He was driving to drop me off, and we were rounding the corner on Challenger Dr in the I43 Business Park when Hodgie (from Kiss FM) said that word had just come in that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center. Rachel, his co-host, laughed uneasily and said that it must be a small plane, a bi-plane or something like that. Jesse dropped me off and went to work himself. I didn't think too much more about it until Jess called me at my desk to tell me what was really going on. I remember my whole department whispering quietly, wondering what in the world was going on. Then the vice-president of the company walked through each department and told everyone to go into the conference rooms and watch the televisions that were tuned in to the disaster. "You need to see this," he said, "this is history."

I left work early that day to pick up my kids from school and be home with them, just in case something happened. I remember stopping at the grocery store and hearing from a clerk who heard from her son, a truck driver, that his boss had told him to gas up because the price of gas was going to soar. I remember the price of gas that day was $1.85, and gas stations in the Fox Valley were later sanctioned for "price-gouging" customers by charging $2.00/gallon. Now we would all love to pay $2/gallon.

I wonder how things would be different today in the world of Facebook. Would the rumors be racing from wall to wall? Would people have said their good-byes by posting one last time? Where were you when you knew that our country, our world had been changed by the angry acts of nineteen men?

Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground ZeroThunder Dog by Michael Hingson & Suzy Flory is the story of one man's escape from the 78th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11 with his heroic and one -of-a-kind guide dog. Hingson, who was been blind since birth, was getting ready for a meeting that morning when the plane hit his building. He used his beloved guide dog and his faith in God to get him down 1,463 stairs to escape the building, only to flee for his life when the South Tower fell. Thunder Dog is about much more than just Hingson's run for his life that day; it's the story of how he came to that place, and how what he had learned along the way allowed him to survive. Hingson was a hero long before he ever came down those stairs, because he has refused to ever allow his disability to handicap him. From riding his bike as a young child, to driving a car around campus as a college student, to flying a plane as an adult, he has never accepted limitations others would place on him, but always doing so with a sense of humor and smile. I found his statement that the only way he is ever disabled is in how others try to place limitations upon him to be uplifting and inspiring. His story of the treacherous and uncertain hours of 9/11 are told with clarity and compassion. He doesn't know why God allowed him to survive when so many others died that day, but he has used his survival as an opportunity to share with others his desire for the blind to have the same resources as anyone else, as well as his faith. Throughout the story, Roselle becomes known as a rare dog. She never became frightened during those terrifying events, and she led Michael to safety again and again. Michael and Roselle's mutual trust is a lesson for all readers. This is a beautiful story of friendship, the inspiring story of a man who has a remarkable spirit, and his dog who matched it.

Thank you to BookSneeze for providing me with a copy of this book for review. I want to encourage anyone who has been inspired by Roselle to consider making a donation to Michael's society, in her name, to help put technology in the hands of blind children and change their lives. Click here to check it out.