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Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey with an Exceptional Labrador

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  590 ratings  ·  135 reviews
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.

At the age of thirty-eight, Stephen Kuusisto—who has managed his whole life without one—gets his first guide dog, a beautiful yellow labrador named Corky. Theirs is a part
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 13th 2018 by Simon Schuster
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Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
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
Hákon Gunnarsson
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
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, a
Nikki (Saturday Nite Reader)

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
Jill Morgan
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jessica White
Jan 09, 2018 rated it liked it
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 dec
Nick Aaron
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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!
Sarah Elizabeth
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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 discr
Karen Wingate
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 emotio ...more
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bark
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. ...more
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Elly Sands
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 tra ...more
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
An informative and touching story, about service dogs, and how they help their owners gain independence.
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 26, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amelie Koury
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: dog lovers
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 ...more

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 pap
Lauren | okayinmybook
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, 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 decide
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 e
Rita Ciresi
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ( 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 ba ...more
Brit McCarthy
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 he
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 gui ...more
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 mem
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a real life story of broken to whole. The author is a poet by profession, but his prose has the same illuminating quality. "Reason and flourishing were, I thought, two long thin wings, like those of osprey. I wanted uplift, possibility, and if flourishing had a preliminary step, I thought hope would be a good start."

Maimed by a mother with impossible expectations of her blind son, his turning point comes at age 38 with the 180 degree turn towards becoming his true, strong self with the
Jul 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Stephen Kuusisto is nearly blind and living what he would characterized as a half life when a near death experience (in traffic) sent him to Guiding Eyes, a training center for the blind and their service dog. There he makes an instant connection with Corky, a yellow lab. The schooling program for both dogs and their new owners is really comprehensive and, for me, the most interesting part of the book. Before being paired with a dog, the prospective human first trains with trainers acting the ro ...more
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is so much more than "a man and his dog" story. Kuusisto's writes about confronting the damaging beliefs his mother instilled in him about being blind; he writes about how his guide dog Corky leads him from a life of self-doubt and tentativeness into confidence and ultimately advocacy for the blind and their service dogs; he writes about the transformation from living in denial with his disability, eschewing a white cane -- to confidently traveling with Corky as he travels the country, ...more
Larry Smith
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In this book, we learn much about the nature of blindness, seeing-eye-dogs and its training, and about our author Stephen Kuusisto, yet in a larger frame we learn about compassion and connecting with others.
The author is quick to share his self-realizations with us, “My principle hang - up had always concerned accomplishment—a misunderstanding of accomplishment—as if blindness was an obstacle to success. I’d lived without any examples of blind triumph. Now triumph was all around me.”
In a style t
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh my goodness, where do I begin? This is a lovely book. Kuusisto is a poet and his ability to choose just the right words makes for some beautiful passages. Coming of age in the 1950s and 60s his parents encouraged him to hide his blindness (he is not totally blind but his sight is very limited). He memorized how many steps and in what direction to go in his limited area but missed out on so much. After losing his job he decided to accept his blindness and apply for a guide dog. Best decision o ...more
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