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Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet's Journey

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In a lyrical love letter to guide dogs everywhere, a blind poet shares his delightful story of how a guide dog changed his life and helped him discover a newfound appreciation for travel and independence.

Stephen Kuusisto was born legally blind—but he was also raised in the 1950s and taught to deny his blindness in order to "pass" as sighted. Stephen attended public school, rode a bike, and read books pressed right up against his nose. As an adult, he coped with his limited vision by becoming a professor in a small college town, memorizing routes for all of the places he needed to be. Then, at the age of 38, he was laid off. With no other job opportunities in his vicinity, he would have to travel to find work.

This is how he found himself at Guiding Eyes paired with a Labrador named Corky. In this vivid and lyrical memoir, Stephen Kuusisto recounts how an incredible partnership with a guide dog changed his life and the heart-stopping, wondrous adventure that began for him in midlife. Profound and deeply moving, this is a spiritual journey, the story of discovering that life with a guide dog is both a method and a state of mind.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published March 13, 2018

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Stephen Kuusisto

19 books33 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 160 reviews
Profile Image for Evelina | AvalinahsBooks.
859 reviews440 followers
March 19, 2018
Have Dog, Will Travel by Stephen Kuusisto is an incredibly touching love song to dogs – not just guide dogs as a means for a person to be enabled, to experience so much more freedom, but simply the ever loving nature of these wonderful creatures and how they can transform a person's life. You will not simply finish this book and walk away. It will lodge itself into the depth of your heart and never let you go. ★★★★✬ 4.5 stars.

Stephen Kuusisto should have been declared legally blind as a child – the only reason he wasn't was because his parents thought their child would have a very hard life if he was considered blind. So they told him to hide it, to pretend (it's a common misconception that all blind people don't see at all – a person can be legally blind and see shapes or read text with the page right in their face.) How Stephen managed to live half of his life this way and even teach students remains a mystery to me – nothing short of a miracle. But the real miracle in his life isn't the fact that he spent half of it pretending to be able to see just fine – it's the fact that one day he had enough. And that's when he decided to request a seeing eye dog. And it changed EVERYTHING.

Have Dog, Will Travel is the story of this change. And it's nothing short of amazing. The story goes through the exhillaration of freedom, freedom of movement, freedom of choice, so many freedoms suddenly within Stephen's grasp. But it's not just that. It's also the freedom to love and be loved. The freedom to be allowed to be yourself. To accept yourself. And to learn to find your footing.

Read more about how guide dogs give the blind people more freedom and loving acceptance in my full review on my book blog here. There you will also find more from this book about how you should NOT treat a blind person and generally avoid being ableist.

I thank Simon & Schuster for giving me a free copy of the book in exchange to my honest opinion. Receiving the book for free does not affect my opinion.

Read Post On My Blog | My Bookstagram | Bookish Twitter
Profile Image for Hákon Gunnarsson.
Author 29 books131 followers
January 29, 2020
Have Dog, Will Travel is an autobiographical account by Stephen Kuusisto of getting an seeing eye dog for the first time. Kuusisto was legally blind at an early age, but his mother insisted that he would hide his disability from the world. It is only after he looses a teaching job at the age of thirty-eight, and has a hard time getting a new one that he starts thinking about getting a dog to help him.

I like this book for most parts. It is a very interesting view into the world of blind people, and the history of seeing eye dogs in America. I feel like I gained insight into that history by reading this. It has been an uphill battle for blind people's freedom getting the right to use these amazing animals. It is also the first time I have heard how people, and seeing eye dogs really work together. I've been a dog owner for decades, but those dogs have mostly been without any job to speak of, so those relationship are a little bit different.

Kuusisto's personal history is quite interesting. He had a rough time growing up, partly because his mother insisted on him hiding his blindness from the world. It sounds really strange, but maybe not unique. This obviously had some direct consequences on his life, and he makes it quite clear that his life got better after starting to "show" his blindness by having an seeing eye dog.

He does get into some situations after going out into world with his canine helper. People have their own ideas about what blindness is, and how having it must be. Some of this is not coming from a bad place, rather out of ignorance, but some of it is prejudices against blind people. This bugs the writer, and he spends quite some time trying to show how these prejudices are wrong. What is a little strange, is that he sometimes shows his own prejudices against some groups of people so casually that I'm not sure if he noticed doing it, but that is another story.

His writing style is light most of the time, sometimes quite funny, and I laughed out loud several times, but occasionally he becomes little too sentimental for my liking. Still I liked it. It is a good book, an interesting view into the world of seeing eye dogs.
Profile Image for Nikki (Saturday Nite Reader).
394 reviews101 followers
October 20, 2017

I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley for my honest review.

I was healing from a wounding failure to love my blindness.

The author, Stephen Kuusisto, grew up hiding the fact that he was blind. It was not something easily hidden, but it was more a lack of acknowledgement and accommodation of his disability by his mother. He never knew how to embrace his disability, having been forced to hide it. For the first time at the age of 38, he would finally acknowledge his disability and start his journey to acceptance and independence. His life would change after he chose to get a service dog, who would give him the confidence he needed to find his way in the world.

In the condensed version of guide-dog life, all at once everything is reachable. Reachable is a word sighted people rarely have to think about – but it’s one of the main coordinates of independence.

The book is written in way that you feel you are sitting in a coffee shop with Stephen and he is telling you about his story. It is very honest and real. I learned new ways of thinking about situations, not just involving disabilities, but how to be kind to all people. There are a few stories where Stephen could have easily been angry with those less tolerant of his disability, but he chose to diffuse the situations with kindness; the one thing the author portrayed was patience. He was often in situations where his conversations revolved around his disability, and further questioning about Corky’s role in aiding him. Because of his disability many people have treated him like he was less of a person. Not realizing that Stephen is person, just because he is disabled it doesn’t mean he can’t still think, have opinions and contribute to society.

I was in the dining room at a prestigious arts retreat, in a room where Yoko Ono once ate spaghetti and instead of discussing the arts I was describing light – that blind can often see it, that many see colors. And that those who don’t see anything at all still understand the world richly.

He had a beautiful relationship with Corky, and you learn just how much training and love goes into the process of training both the dogs and those in need of a guide dog. If anything, I learned so much of the training process and that these dogs are professionals and not pets and often need to be treated very differently by outsiders; the book describes the reasons why and Stephen provided many examples of situations he and Corky were in that give perspective to their working relationship.

Many books about service animals suggest they heal wounded people but this is a bit of a misrepresentation. Disabilities never vanish. What a dog can do is entice you back into the world.

Corky gave Stephen confidence. They both relied on each other. Corky was there to help guide Stephen and look out for dangers, but Stephen had to be in the lead. Guide dogs do not choose directions or make decisions, they take the lead from their owner.

Stephen, through his words, is a voice for those who are struggling as he did early on. He is proof that if you open yourself up to love, you will receive love in return. Corky sounds like an amazing dog, thank you for sharing your story.
Profile Image for Stephanie Masta.
23 reviews1 follower
January 12, 2023
what a wonderful, heartwarming book. very calm and peaceful. must read if you love dogs.
53 reviews
September 9, 2018
Best book I’ve read in a while. It’s short, but not inconsequential. Stephen is a poet and so he crafts this story well, there’s poetry in his prose. It’s not just a book about a man and a dog, it’s about life, about finding how to continue to live when faced with challenges large and small. How to treat others with patience and kindness. And about the joys of sharing life with a dog, both as a companion and as a guide.
Profile Image for Jessica White.
470 reviews35 followers
January 9, 2018
So Stephen Kuusisto was born blind in one eye and soon lost vision in the other eye.
For 38 years, Stephen pretended he could see. He pretended he was normal. He graduated, went to college, and became a professor, all while pretending he didn't have a disability.
See when he was growing up, people viewed disabilities as a disease. They didn't know how to react or speak to those with disabilities. So he had no choice but to mask his disability.
But once his teaching gig didn't last forever, he decided his life needed a new turn, one that could ultimately change his life for the better.
He was getting a service dog.
He had to go through intensive training in order to get his very own service dog.
In Have Dog, Will Travel, Stephen outlines what was included in his training, as well as the training that the dogs have to go through, starting in their puppy days.
He also talks about the stigma that goes along with blindness. He talks about the stress of putting your life in the hands of a dog, but once that dog becomes your lifelong partner, there is no hesitation. That dog is going to protect you with their life because that is what they are trained to do.

Huge thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of Have Dog, Will Travel!
Even bigger thanks to Stephen Kuusisto for writing this fantastic book that helped me better understand service dogs!

Have Dog, Will Travel hits shelves March 13th!

Looking for other books on service dogs?
The Dog Lover Unit
Profile Image for Nick Aaron.
Author 21 books46 followers
March 22, 2018
This memoir is beautifully written. Being blind is not sad. Apart from all else, Stephen Kuusisto preaches this by example: when you’re a talented poet and you’re capable of writing in such an undramatic yet compelling voice, you have no reason to be sad.
And the stories about Corky are just wonderful. Conveying the reality of living and working with a guide dog in a very imaginative way, the author brings it alive completely.
Simply a great read!
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
520 reviews5 followers
October 1, 2018
This book taught me to appreciate poets in a new way. I will admit poetry has never been a favorite of mine, but reading a novel by a poet was a lovely experience. The beginning was an adjustment for me (I found it a little flowery), but I was intrigued by the story and kept reading. The author is blind, and this book is the story of his relationship with his guide dog, Corky. In the course of reading this book, I learned guide dogs were a consequence of war, which I found fascinating. They were used in war for a variety of tasks, but post-WWI, the first guide dogs actually emerged to help blind veterans in Germany.

One of the things the author discussed at length was how Corky gave him freedom and a way to accept himself (he had grown up deeply ashamed of being blind). He also discussed how being blind isn't his entire personality, but people he meets often only want to discuss that (even at an art retreat, other artists wanted to discuss being blind when he wanted to discuss Jackson Pollack). My mother taught deaf kids how to swim, and is fluent in sign language (no one in our family is deaf). Even today, she still signs while watching movies or television, and I remember watching her hands when I was little and being mesmerized by how quickly her fingers could form unique shapes and make meaning. Because of that experience, deaf and blind individuals don't seem unusual to me. Yes, they are different in that they have trouble hearing and seeing, but at their core, they aren't any different from anyone else.

When the author learns how to work with his guide dog, he expresses the following thought:
"From this moment on you will be saying ‘Good dog’ as much as a hundred times a day.” Who affirms good things even a dozen times a day? Who makes “talking goodness” a habit of her or his minutes?" I loved this because of how true it is and how great a reminder it is--make affirmations and talking goodness a habit!

I also found this interesting: "I like myself better with Corky. Does America’s love of dogs help when it comes to being in public with a disability? Yes. Dogs are icebreakers; they’re tribal totems; they transform space. Am I entirely better off because I have a dog? Probably not . . . Note to self: be careful not to anthropomorphize your dog, not to idealize her. But do acknowledge your trust. Foolish not to." Because I love dogs so much, I probably do idealize them. That he has such a strong bond with his dog and can still have this perspective was interesting.

One of the other things I liked about this book was how open the author was about his thoughts and feelings. After he gets Corky: "“This must be what sighted people feel like,” I thought as we climbed a steep hill. “You’re just you.” The idea was both banal and oddly original. “You’re just you, or we’re just us,” I said aloud." It brought to light (no pun intended) how much we take for granted with our eyesight. We can go to Walgreen's at midnight because we can't sleep. We can peruse a milliner's shop just because we have nothing better to do.

I also liked this: "Many books about service animals suggest they heal wounded people, but this is a bit of a misrepresentation. Disabilities never vanish. What a dog can do is entice you back into the world. That’s how a dog thinks of it." He also noted, "A guide dog taught me to live wisely."

I don't know how someone can read these words and not fall in love with man's best friend. As with most dog books, though, the ending was bittersweet. He said, "But in the veterinary clinic as she was breathing her last I knew quite clearly Corky had spent her life protecting me. She always looked out for me, my special angel. I knew I had to force back my tears because I couldn’t let her die to the sounds of my distress." I thought it was especially poignant that he didn't want to cry to protect Corky, since she had spent her entire life protecting him. It was also a nice perspective because I don't know that I've ever thought about the impact of my tears on a dog.

A very moving read, and one I would absolutely recommend.
Profile Image for Bajidc.
720 reviews5 followers
November 5, 2022
“The art of pretending to see.” My mother is an expert at that. Retinitis pigmentosa is a rare eye disease that causes vision loss over time. Her vision has been deteriorating for decades. Unless she had a companion, night blindness curtailed all evening activities. Eventually, her loss of peripheral vision meant she could no longer drive or even confidently walk alone. While we have become accustomed to it and she has found ways to live with it, it’s very hard for others to understand the concept of being nearly blind.

Kuusisto’s account is harrowing and upsetting but uplifting and life-affirming as well. Despite the savage upbringing courtesy of harsh parents who demanded he deny his condition, he learns to accept his blindness. A poet by trade, he takes us on a beautiful journey from his insular life in a familiar and small town to adventurous travels through this vast country thanks to the skills and love of his guide dog Corky. That his journey also includes a shift in attitude, gratitude, and self-acceptance is not lost on him. This lyrical memoir is understandably sentimental but also gives you a brass tacks overview on how the blind navigate the physical world and try to retain their dignity in the face of the prejudices or ignorance of others. The professionalism and competence of well-trained guide dogs is admirable and fascinating. Thanks for the recommendation, work-related-book-club-that-I-won’t-join-but-will-stalk!

Superb blurb:

Corky and I stood for nothing other than brokenness to loose cannon Christians. On a bus one day a woman said loudly: “Can I pray for you?” I couldn’t help myself and said very loudly: “Yes, Madam, you may pray for me, but only if together we raise our prayers for all the good people on this bus who have trouble brewing in their DNA, whose cancers are aborning even as we speak, whose children have gone astray through substance abuse, who are even now feeling lost in a sea of troubles, let us pray, all of us together for our universal salvation.” I clutched the woman’s arm with feverish intensity. The bus pulled to a routine stop and she jumped out the door. Passengers applauded. “Don’t take it personally,” a woman said to me then. I smiled. But how else to take it? The blind man either needs salvation or he’s a sign of grace. Can’t a fellow simply say: “I’m cheery in my flesh, how about you?”

Profile Image for Amyiw.
2,253 reviews63 followers
June 25, 2018
4 1/2
I want to give this a 5 but the end lost me in a bit too much philosophy. I don't think I've gotten there in life, maybe I never will. Still the first 80% was very good, great at many points, thought provoking, humorous, life changing (for him), and bit of thought on life and life choices, how we see ourselves and how this can change. I laughed quite a bit and thought quite a bit. I never have known a blind person really. I have a friend with very poor near vision but can drive. He is discriminated with jobs. Still a blind person that cannot easily travel in a new situation or area, no not really. After reading this I feel like a get a bit more of what it means. I also now know why you shouldn't pet a guide dog. I've met a few trainers actually and was told no to pets but not why. I didn't ask or push as I knew they had their reasons. I loved the dog love and learning dog of this book. Dog lovers will either love or really like this book. I was given this book by my step-mom and will give the audio to my adult son. I think he'll appreciate the life changes
Profile Image for Karen Wingate.
Author 7 books23 followers
June 17, 2018
Have Dog, Will Travel is the poignant memoir of a visually impaired man's path to freedom through the harness of a sighted guide dog. At times, literary bordering on on poetic, and at other times, packed with historical information. the author takes the reader through his early decision to get a guide dog, the training, and the aftermath of living with a guide dog and working through the reactions of an uninformed society. I appreciated the blending of feelings and facts; of education and emotion. This was a well written book. Those with disabilities will resonate with the author's adjustments. Those who have no disability or exposure to those who do will catch a glimpse of what it's like to have a disability (it's not bad - it's different). Finally, it's just good reading about a season of life and letting go of past perspectives to grasp a future of freedom. I highly recommend it!
Profile Image for Caitlin.
3 reviews
January 18, 2022
Another story I couldn’t put down . If you love learning others experiences and if you love dogs this will leave you feeling like your heart will burst at the seams. I finished with a better understanding and education on the guide dog system and people who experience the world from a blind perspective . Highly recommend rubbing a furry friends belly while turning the pages .
Profile Image for Kacey Lundgren.
188 reviews12 followers
May 16, 2022
I blasted through this book in a few hours and loved every page of it. Honest, witty, and filled with great poetry.
268 reviews3 followers
March 30, 2018
This book was deeply touching. I enjoyed reading about how Corky came into Stephen’s life and the way she changed it for the better. A good read for all dog lovers.
543 reviews10 followers
December 30, 2019
I found this book perusing the library shelves and what a treasure! I am a real cat person but this made me want to go out and adopt a dog! The author is a poet and his sensitivity made the story more poignant. I'm sorry to say his mother was embarrassed by her son's blindness (he could see a little) and constantly insisted that he pretend to see in order to hide his disability. This of course caused emotional problems throughout his life but he eventually rose above it and after classes and training was united with a guide dog . What transpired between them was brilliantly and tenderly told by the author in a way only a poet can. This is not only a loving story but also extremely educational concerning the world of the blind. It is not maudlin and often told with humor. I highly recommend it.
35 reviews
April 28, 2018
An informative and touching story, about service dogs, and how they help their owners gain independence.
208 reviews4 followers
March 12, 2018
What an incredible story. The author has gone through tremendously difficult circumstances and yet his outlook is so uplifting. I enjoyed this book as a memoir but also as a dog lover. The bond between Corky and Stephen Kuusisto is not only beautiful but beautifully told. Well-written. Recommended.

My thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
38 reviews
March 26, 2018

Interesting in that it tells the training one goes through to get a guide dog and later how people react to guide dogs and their handlers.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Renée.
Author 7 books35 followers
November 6, 2021
FIVE PAWS: Stephen Kuusisto's "Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey with an Exceptional Labrador" has taken its spot as one of my all-time favorite dog books. Profoundly moving and beautifully written.
Profile Image for Tarn Wilson.
Author 4 books28 followers
September 15, 2018
Gorgeous book. A memoir about a blind man's first guide dog - and how that relationship opened his heart, helped heal his past, and opened a fuller future. Also includes an illuminating history of disability rights in our country. All written in beautiful language.
Profile Image for Amelie Koury.
4 reviews1 follower
March 7, 2020
I work with dogs, so I'll admit I was a little hesitant to read this. Working with animals is an unregulated industry. Anyone can be a dog trainer, no qualifications or education required. This applies to service dogs, working dogs, etc. You can do whatever you want to the dogs, train however you want. In Quebec, we have the MIRA foundation which trains service dogs. They use dated, abusive methods. There are people who choose to follow science and those who choose not to. There are no standards or rules to follow. Dog owners are at the mercy of those who claim to know what they're doing. This is why I was so worried about this book. Will I read about the use of dominance? Will I read about the use of pain to train dogs?
I was so pleasantly surprised to read about Guiding Eyes and how they use science based training. This not only makes it fun for the dog, but much more fun for the human too! (for example: is it fun to yell at your kids? to punish them? does that make for pleasant parenting or build trust?). I loved reading Stephen's experience with Corky, his interpretation of their bond, how he "sees" dogs, his relationship with his service dog and humans relationship with dogs. It was heart warming, inspiring, beautiful, reassuring, comforting.
I learned lot about "blindness" or being "visually impaired", things that simply never occurred to me and got me thinking and wondering about different things. We really all act the same around our insecurities. We think we're being judged on them by random people we pass on the street. We imagine the thoughts a stranger must have on us "he must be disgusted by how fat i am. he's judging what I'm eating", "she must think i'm so ugly, she must wonder why I don't do something about it" or "they must think i'm defective because i'm blind". It was eye opening because when he wrote about what he thought others thought of him, I told myself "that's ridiculous." only to then say to myself "Amelie, you do this exact same thing but about something else".

I thought I knew a lot about guide dogs, this book made me realize how little I actually knew. For example, the pacing never occurred to me! Matching a dog to the persons' walking pace (among other things). The travel, a dog who enjoys traveling for the person who travels vs a dog who isn't good with traveling for the person who can't or won't travel, who'll stay within a certain area. It seems so obvious now, but it's just not something I thought of! I found the work fascinating, it got me interested in that field.

It's not just the content of the book, it's how Stephen explains it all. It's clear and simple yet poetic, visual, and emotional. His words stimulate all your senses.

Definitely going to look for his other books!
Profile Image for Heather.
580 reviews8 followers
August 15, 2018

The thing that I found absolutely amazing about this memoir is that the author was raised to not let anyone know that he was blind.  How do you even do that?  There is a very scary story about the time he rented a motor scooter and drove around the mountains in Santorini following the red blob that was his friend.  

His mother was adamant that being blind meant that he was defective.  He should never let anyone know.  That meant memorizing the small towns he lived in.  Reading by holding the paper up to his left eye.  Living a life made difficult by a disability but almost impossible by a lie.  Seriously, his mother needed a good whooping. 

At 38 he was forced to make a change.  He got his first guide dog.  He was now open about his blindness.  It changed his entire life.

This book is a tribute to the freedom found in living your true life and the way that is enhanced by his guide dog.  The author is a poet and that is obvious in his lyrical writing style.  He is a very philosophical person who deeply considers things that others may gloss over.

I appreciated the fact that he discussed the professionalism of real service dogs.  He worries about the damage being done by people registering out of control pets as emotional support dogs just so they can take them anywhere.  (One of my major pet peeves!)  He explains that there still is resistance to and ignorance of guide dogs for the blind now.  I wouldn't have thought it would be so common.  

I was a guide dog puppy raiser.  (My puppy passed his temperment and training tests but failed his physical.)  He talks a lot about the importance of puppy raisers and the trainers who work with the dogs.  You find out who the process works.  

For the dog lovers, this story starts in 1994.  That means that the dog does die before the book was written.  It is discussed but not dwelt on.  

This is a wonderful book for dog lovers everywhere.  All dogs can change your life but Corky the labrador revolutionized her person's. This review was originally posted on Based On A True Story
January 23, 2019
Book Review: Book 4 of 2019! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“What a dog can do is entice you to get back into the world. That’s how a dog thinks of it.”
-Stephen Kuusisto
Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey is a memoir written by Stephen Kuusisto. Stephen is a poet and writer and has been legally blind since childhood. Through the book, he tells of how his family taught him to “hide” his disability from others and the constant stress and anxiety it causes.
Nearing age 40 with worsening blindness, Stephen decides to apply for his first ever guide dog. He is accepted and soon meets lovable yellow Labrador Corky who becomes Stephen’s guide dog and best friend. Through Corky’s unwavering protection and unconditional love, Stephen has the world cracked open for him and begins on a true journey of self-acceptance.
This book made me laugh and cry. The relationship between Stephen and Corky is heartwarming and something I won’t forget. I also found myself frustrated for Stephen and Corky as they experience prejudice and discrimination as they move through the world together. I appreciated Stephen including the history of guide dogs and how they have come to be more common since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
I read this book as part of my broader interest in reading more #ownvoices books this year by individuals who experience life differently than I do. This book changed the way I think about ability and privilege, and is a book I recommend to everyone. What #ownvoices books do you recommend? Let me know in the comments below.
-Lauren @okayinmybook on Instagram
Profile Image for Aj Sterkel.
777 reviews31 followers
January 24, 2023
In the 1990s, the author lost his job as a poetry professor at a university and decided that he needed to get a guide dog and expand his world. He'd been blind since birth, but his parents saw his disability as shameful, so he learned to navigate without a dog or a white cane. It was extremely dangerous and left him confined to the towns he'd memorized.

The author completely transforms his life over the course of this memoir. For him, it was empowering to admit that he needed help and to educate himself about his disability. It takes an astounding amount of energy to pretend you're not blind. I love seeing how much joy and freedom he got from his dog. Even though this memoir touches on difficult topics (such as growing up blind with alcoholic parents), it's never depressing. It left me smiling.

I like the subject of this book, but the writing style is not my thing. I read the first 10 pages and said, "I'm pretty sure this dude graduated from Iowa Writers Workshop." Then he confirmed that he did! It's very easy for me to recognize their brand of insufferably pretentious weirdness. Sometimes the writing style is weird for the sake of weird. Also, the author quotes from a ton of other sources, so half the book is written by other people. It got on my nerves.

Even though I didn't like the writing, I want to find more stories like this one. I want nonfiction books about animals that are not textbooks and not sappy. I think Stephen Kuusisto found the balance between informational and readable. I appreciate that.
Profile Image for Amberly.
229 reviews39 followers
April 11, 2018
The first thing I have to say is going into this, I did not know just how much I did not know about blindness and seeing eye dogs. I am so glad I picked this book up and learned that my small minded point of view was completely wrong.

Stephen Kuusisto is an amazing writer who takes you along his journey of getting his first guide dog, Corky. That has got to be one of the best dog names ever! During different points in the book I was laughing and trying not to cry because Kuusisto is so good at evoking the feel of what it is like for him that you feel it yourself. Also, the insights he has about dogs and there thought process is just beautiful. I now want to read his poetry because it has to be just as good as his regular work.

Kuusisto does a wonderful thing with this book. He is an ambassador for seeing eye dogs and not only does he shatter preconceived notions about them, he also is doing a wonderful job on educating people on the joys of having a seeing eye dog and the proper behavior for interacting with one.

Please excuse me while I figure out how to volunteer at a seeing eye dog facility and try to do more about spreading the word about these wonderfully talented dogs. This also made me super aware of how badly my dogs would be at seeing eye dogs!
Profile Image for Rita Ciresi.
Author 15 books57 followers
July 3, 2018
This engaging memoir tells the story of the author's first guide dog, Corky, and gives an insider's view of an organization I've supported for the past twenty years: Guiding Eyes for the Blind (www.guidingeyes.org). The Guiding Eyes newsletter always features one owner and dog pair, and Stephen Kuusisto's Have Dog, Will Travel reads like an extended profile. We learn about how dogs are bred, selected, and trained to be service animals and how much faith, trust, and love their owners must give back. This book has two audiences--the first is those who might not have read Kuusisto's previous work and who are curious about what it's like to live with vision impairment and depend on a canine companion for mobility. The second is those (like me) who have read and admire Planet of the Blind and other writings by Kuusisto and who crave more of the poetic and lyrical passages found here. This book has a few passages that are repetitious, but many new stories to delight old fans. My favorite was the brief story about how Kuusisto tried to communicate in Finnish with a deaf repairman, and the two had to forge a new language to get their points across. I also admired how this book honored one of the many noble dogs to graduate from Guiding Eyes for the Blind: beloved Corky.
Profile Image for Brit McCarthy.
758 reviews49 followers
October 7, 2020
As someone who is lucky enough to work with puppies who grow up to change people's lives, I was just enraptured by this book. I picked it up in the morning and didn't put it down until I turned the last page.

It helps that Stephen Kuusisto's writing is truly beautiful. Some true stories and memoirs and things struggle in one of two directions - either the person tries to write it themselves and it's not very good because they're not a writer, or they get a ghostwriter or companion writer in to help and it no longer sounds authentic. The perks of being a poet is that Stephen is a fantastic writer and really helps the reader to understand (as much as they can) the state Stephen was in and what changed for him when he was matched with his first guide dog, Corky.

Stephen covers a range of his topics in this book - his childhood, his denial of his blindness for so long, what drove him to apply for a guide dog, his rocky relationship with his mother, as well as his experiences with his guide dog and interesting (to say the least) interactions with the public. I hope people reading this take away some guide dog etiquette as well as just general people etiquette!

Really great book, loved it.
6 reviews
March 15, 2018
I loved this book. Kuusisto takes readers on a journey from isolation and unemployment as a blind man to self-advocacy and inclusion, thanks largely to his first guide dog Corky. It's an important book, fast-reading, informative, and beautiful, and readers will have a newfound appreciation for the impressive work of guide dogs and the trust required of their owners. Kuusisto's chronicling of the training period with his guide dog is fascinating, and I appreciated the deftly woven research on guide dogs. The story is ultimately about how to live differently, how to move into the world as one never has before (in Kuusisto's case, from reticence to confidence) and there's something profoundly important and even universal there. And yet it's also a story of disability in an ableist world. Kuusisto captures the perils of life in the "town square," as he calls it, narrating several incidents of discrimination, even as his guide dog gives him greater freedom. But ultimately, Corky brings Kuusisto communion with the outside world in a remarkable way. The book made me want to scrape more funds from my budget for monthly donations to Guiding Eyes.
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178 reviews
January 22, 2019
Phenomenal book. The author shows blindness in a different light as he draws from his personal experiences. A disability yes, but not one that sets him apart as different from the rest of human kind as a misfit to be pitied. Instead, he is just as capable of success as those who can see. The journey of self-discovery he has taken began when he received his first guide dog Corky and has brought him to places he never could have gone otherwise. The insight he gives on the capabilities and thought processes of dogs is terrific. Though I’m not overly found of dogs myself, the way he writes has made me want a canine companion of my own!
I hope others who read this book learn new facets to the Blind experience and understand guide dogs and their users better. In addition, the book motivates people who are willing to help spread awareness in their communities surrounding the issues addressed in the book. Have Dog, Will Travel is a book not be missed by anyone looking for a good read that will change their perspective on the world and challenge their existing presumptions.
624 reviews1 follower
March 19, 2018
What an amazing, poetic, and enchanting tale! Someone called this a "love letter to guide dogs everywhere" and that it is.

Born blind, Stephen Kuusisto was taught to hide his blindness, because his parents feared the discrimination that disabilities often brought forth. Then, at a turning point in his life when he was in his 30's, he decided to accept his disability. Soon he got his first guide dog, and his entire life changed.

In this book , (more straight forward than his earlier stunning memoir Planet of the Blind) Kuusisto traces his early life and then the incredible changes that followed after he met and teamed up with his guide dog Corky. With Corky at his side, the author learned to accept his disability and to move forward with confidence and self-acceptance. He began to travel extensively, he met and fell in love with his now-wife, he grew spiritually and emotionally. What a lovely, poetic, eloquent, inspirational book!
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