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Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero

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Faith.  Trust.  Triumph.

I trust Roselle with my life, every day. She trusts me to direct her. And today is no different, except the stakes are higher. Michael Hingson

First came the boom the loud, deep, unapologetic bellow that seemed to erupt from the very core of the earth. Eerily, the majestic high-rise slowly leaned to the south. On the seventy-eighth floor of the World Trade Center's north tower, no alarms sounded, and no one had information about what had happened at 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001. What should have been a normal workday for thousands of people. All that was known to the people inside was what they could see out the windows: smoke and fire and millions of pieces of burning paper and other debris falling through the air.

Blind since birth, Michael couldn't see a thing, but he could hear the sounds of shattering glass, falling debris, and terrified people flooding around him and his guide dog, Roselle. However, Roselle sat calmly beside him. In that moment, Michael chose to trust Roselle's judgment and not to panic. They are a team.

Thunder Dog allows you entry into the isolated, fume-filled chamber of stairwell B to experience survival through the eyes of a blind man and his beloved guide dog. Live each moment from the second a Boeing 767 hits the north tower, to the harrowing stairwell escape, to dodging death a second time as both towers fold into the earth.

It's the 9/11 story that will forever change your spirit and your perspective. Thunder Dog illuminates Hingson's lifelong determination to achieve parity in a sighted world, and how the rare trust between a man and his guide dog can inspire an unshakable faith in each one of us.

231 pages, Hardcover

First published July 1, 2011

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About the author

Michael Hingson

5 books51 followers
When the World Trade Center was attacked on 9-11, it was as though the world stood still. It was a day that captured our full attention. Michael Hingson and his Guide Dog Roselle were on the 78th floor of Tower One that day, and were able to make their way to safety and survive the attack. The duo was immediately thrust into the international spotlight, becoming well-known representatives of the strength of the human/animal bond and a living example of the powerful partnership that exists between a blind person and their Guide Dog. In 2002 Michael joined the Guide Dogs for the Blind team as the National Public Affairs director, to share his story throughout the world on behalf of the school. In June of 2008 Michael left Guide Dogs to form The Michael Hingson Group to continue his speaking career as well as to serve as a consultent for corporations and organizations that need assistance with Inclusive and Diversity training as well as adaptive technology training.
Michael Hingson is available for speaking engagements, public appearances, consulting and training contract positions and media interviews.
In his own words:
I lived through the 9-11 tragedy and have much to say about my experiences leading up to and escaping from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Since that day, I’ve traveled the world with Roselle and her successors; at first to help people heal and hope, and now, to help them find meaning and purpose. As a blind person living in today’s world I want people to see that while there are many different kinds of people, each with their own different gifts, we all can live and work together if we choose to open our minds and hearts and become a more inclusive world. There are positive lessons to be learned from every tragedy, and 9-11 is certainly no exception.
Because I am blind, I have a unique perspective. Because I believe in the power of partnering with my Guide Dog, I can speak from the heart about teamwork and trust. I’ve been a guest numerous times on Larry King Live, have been interviewed on Regis and Kelly, and have appeared on the CBS Morning Show – but I’m looking forward to my next big engagement: as the featured speaker at your event.
I promise to bring my faithful friend and guide dog, Africa – she has her own fan club! If it weren’t for our ability to work together as a team just as I Roselle and I did on 9-11, my story would be much different and I probably would not have learned the lessons I now can pass on to audiences throughout the world.
The events of September 11th changed the world, and they certainly changed my life. There’s something about almost losing your life that makes what really matters in life crystal clear. I left my successful 27-year career in high tech computer sales and management to travel the world speaking about the importance of teamwork and trust in our professional and personal lives.
I would like to bring my story to your audience at your next event or meeting and help you make it a memorable and rewarding experience. And you will have the satisfaction that any dollars you spend will not only cover my speaking fees, but will help others like myself enjoy the independence and companionship that comes from a partnership with a Guide Dog.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,501 reviews
Profile Image for jv poore.
606 reviews196 followers
April 15, 2022
I expected a book about a blind man and his guide dog leaving one of the towers on September 11, 2001. This book is NOT about a blind man. This book is about Michael Blizzard Hingson. He has his doctorate in Physics. He is a pianist. As a child, he rode his bicycle all around his neighborhood, he walked wherever he didn't ride, he survived the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2011. Oh, and he has been blind since shortly after birth.

Mr. Hingson does share the story of how he and Roselle managed to descend 78 flights of stairs moments after a plane flew into his building. He further elaborates on the challenges faced after exiting the building; such as running as the tower collapsed, and trying to get home. This part of the book was almost surreal. As a reader, I felt proud of his courage, his tenacity, his willingness to keep a level-head; even announcing in the stair-well to all of those "light-dependent people" that they should not worry about the power going out, Roselle could get them ALL out of there!

His back-ground story was more compelling. Upon discovering his blindness, his family was advised to "send him away to a place for blind children". The family disagreed. It certainly seems that the family was right. Michael was treated no differently than his sighted brother. He really wasn't cognizant of the vast difference between the two, so when his brother rode a bike, Michael did too. Without a guide dog, without a cane, without an assistant.

This is a well told story of a man who worked hard to get what he wanted. He doesn't share his story to be inspiring, or to spread a "Can-Do!" spirit; but as a reader, I found it impossible not to be inspired by the way he has chosen to live his life.

First-Reads provided my copy of "thunder dog". My fourth win from FirstReads!
Profile Image for Sheri.
1,092 reviews36 followers
July 8, 2022
Not so much a story of 9/11 as the mission of one motivational speaker, and coincidentally a blind man, to educate the world on the abilities of blind people.

I really wanted to like this, but I have to agree with the reviewers who mentioned the author's arrogance, preachiness, capitalizing on 9/11, and the misleading title and lack of focus. All of those thoughts went through my mind at one point or another as I listened to this, especially as it became repetitive.

Michael Hinson feels judged for his blindness but yet he judges everyone around him when he says that people think they're experts on blindness and that blind people are not socially accepted. I don't think I'm an expert on blindness. I do think I socially accept blind people, but yes, it may be awkward as I don't have the opportunity to interact with them, like ever. People are simply unfamiliar with the differences in everyday living, so please grant them some grace when they need more than a nanosecond to recognize, adjust, and accommodate.

Learning about the technological advances and the adaptations that blind people themselves make was interesting. The personal accounting of the events unfolding on 9/11 was forthright and respectfully told.

Interesting bits here and there, but overall a disjointed story that is neither heartrending, heartbreaking, nor heartwarming. Mr. Hinson does have a story to tell, he just hasn't fully recognized it yet.
Profile Image for Elaine.
312 reviews58 followers
December 31, 2011
A guide dog navigates her blind human down 78 flights of stairs on 9/11. Under any circumstance, this feat would be inspiring, but, given the chaos that prevailed, and that the dog had never traversed these stairs, her performance was amazing.

Actually, Hingson doesn't say much about the dog's performance. To my surprise, then, I turned a page to a new chapter. It consisted of the 23d Psalm in italics. "The Lord is my shepherd... Huh? No disrespect to God, but this book is about a dog who is a shepherd.

Hingson then goes on, as many survivors do, to aver God saved him. God wanted him to escape. If that's true, then God must have wanted all the others to die. So, Mr. Hingson, what makes you so special that God saved you? What made those who died so undeserving tnat God didn't save them?


One reason Hingson escaped is that the plane didn't crash into his floor. So, did God direct the trajectories of the hijacked planes so Hingson would be saved? If so, God must have guided the terrorists and He let them do what they did.

I don't believe God wanted the Towers destroyed. It's the nature of evil that the innocent suffer, and chance determines who lives and dies. If it's Divine Intervention that saves some, then those who aren't saved die because God wants them dead.
Profile Image for Joe Krakovsky.
Author 5 books167 followers
November 21, 2019
Thunder Dog was an amazing story of a blind man and his service dog's escape from one of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11. I was only going to give it a three star rating because I honestly felt it was lacking in entertainment value for me. To be honest, it was a book club selection, and had I picked it up thinking it told more about the attack then I already knew, I would have been greatly disappointed. What I did learn was what life is like for a blind person, and I am glad I did. For this reason I am rounding it up from 3.5 to 4 stars. I swear, I have learned more about the plight of 'handicapped' folks from reading books these last few years than the half century of my life before Goodreads.

Included is valuable information on service dogs.
 
I have to add a few comments based on my past experience and observations. I use to work in an eight story reseach building. One day I noticed this little dog following this young woman around. He was wearing a bright red vest. I imagine his 'job' was to be her ears in case of an alarm, which we had on occasion. Being a healthy man in the prime of my life, I often lifted things, opened bottles, and performed other feats of strength for the women in the lab. One day during an alarm I headed for the stairwell and was on my way down lickety-split when this older woman entered the stairwell  in front of me. Like one of those farmers on their tractors who creep along the highway backing up traffic for a mile, this woman made me slam on my brakes. I remember thinking to myself, if this were a real emergency, I would have picked her up and threw her over my shoulder! And I probably would have been arrested, or fired, or both.

For those of you with no sight, I feel for you, I really do, but you would not believe what this guy went through and achieved. For instance, in the way of a spoiler, though he was blind from birth, he learned to ride his bike around the neighborhood! That is all I will tell you for now. So if you are blind, quit feeling sorry for yourself and read this book. 
Profile Image for James Field.
Author 23 books50 followers
June 21, 2020
I found this book at my local library and thought it sounded interesting. It is part inside story of a blind person who survived the tragic World Trade Centre terrorist attack September 11 2001, part autobiography, and part insight to the lives of the blind.

The sections about Mr Hingson's escape from the twin towers are fascinating, but the constant flashbacks into his life as a blind person are dull. I would recommend this book to people who are blind or know somebody who is blind, or for those who would like to gain knowledge of those who are blind. Also mildly appealing for dog lovers and for those, like me, who are still shocked by 9/11.
Profile Image for kwesi 章英狮.
292 reviews722 followers
August 24, 2011
How many children are blind? 1.5 million children in the world are legally blind and only few cares for them. Some family abandoned babies that are born blind but few are strong enough to live and nourish their blind child as a strong willed man in the future. We thought that they are not capable to do things like normal people but we were mesmerized by the fact that they don't have eyes that can work steadily, in the end, blind men show us that they can do like a regular person.

I encountered few blind people and they were strong and nice people. They valued life and live life to the fullest but there are people who do not value them and recognize them as normal. I pity those people and I'm glad I'm not one of them. Thunder Dog: A Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero, a blind man show courage and heroism to survive and save a life from 9/11 tragedy.

The story of a blind man stepping into a world of danger without a vision but only a dog that can help him out to one of the tallest skyscraper that been built for years. Michael Hingson, the hero and the survivor of the 9/11 tragedy, made a history for blind people. He show how strong he is and how an animal and human connects to each other. Very encouraging and heartwarming story, plus, it will give you goosebumps while reading it.

How did he survive in the building? Many people survived in tragedies and only few survived and few of them believe that God is at their side helping them. The true power of faith and connection to God and his dog become a major factor that Michael Hingson survived. If we continue to believe no matter what happen, there is no impossible that we can't get what we wanted.

This short book is full of surprises, nobody know where those odd events will happen. Imagine yourself as a blind walking in the stairs with a guide dog and a friend, next thing, a burned girl pass through you and many more. This keep me realize how dangerous the situation was and my hair is keep on standing. The pressure made the book continue to it’s full blast and the most important is the lesson we learned.

I recommend this book to those who love inspirational book, animal lovers, 9/11 or anyone who is curious to know more about blind people. I guarantee that everyone will enjoy this book much as I do. Let the light show you the true path and save you from evil. No matter what happen be calm and believe.


How many people died that time? I don't have any idea and the book mentioned two thousand eight hundred twenty five innocents died that time. Consider that some people are lucky enough because it was the Election Day and it happened early in the morning. I'm very young that time and don't have any idea what I saw in the TV but my parents were freaking while watching international news. Pray.


Special thanks to BookSneeze and to the publisher for sharing a free copy of the book.

Review posted on Old-Fashioned Reader .

Rating: Thunder Dog: A Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero by Michael Hingson and Susy Flory, 4 Sweets

Challenges:
Book #232 for 2011
Profile Image for Leo.
4,181 reviews373 followers
March 15, 2022
This was both tugging to my emotions and very heartwarming. It was so tragic to read the owner Michael and the Service dog Roselle (Thunder dog) having to go through September 11 but was happy they survived the attack and to be able to read about their incredible bravery. This is an memoir I'll won't forget anytime soon
3 reviews1 follower
March 25, 2012
really didn’t know what to expect when I bought this book for my kindle, but it was $1.99 and involved a dog and 9/11. Two things that I find interesting, so I went for it.


Wow! It was really good. I don’t want to say too much as to give away the highlights of the book…but essentially you’re guided through Michael’s experiences on 9/11 as well as some of his experiences throughout his life. Being that Michael is blind (and has been from birth), the book offers a lot of insight to the life of a blind person in North America; something I’d never thought to consider or wonder about, but found really fascinating. Michael talks about learning to get around as a kid as well as the thrill of getting a guide dog.


Being the dork that I am, after finishing it, one morning I decided to try to shower and get ready with my eyes closed. I have an advantage as I’ve already seen the location of everything so when I close my eyes, I can think from memory where things are located. I last about one minute in the shower until I decided I’d probably kill myself shaving and gave up.


I saw a blind runner during the marathon with a running-aid and almost teared up; how freaking cool is that?! I almost complimented her during the race, but then I thought back to Michael’s mindset- that just because someone is blind, doesn’t mean they’re different. Blind people want to be treated as equals and respect just as anyone else, not called out for their difference. Actually, in the end of the book there was an article comparing the world for blind people to the world for left-handed people, just on a much smaller scale. I’m left-handed so I found this really interesting. Think of it, the world really is set-up to be most convenient for right-handed people….we shake with our right hands, zippers on purses are set-up for a right handed person as are the dials on watches. Heck, even ice cream scoopers are made for left-handed people (although they do make left-handed scoopers; I had one ordered for me when I worked at Whitey’s Ice Cream in high school).


Any who, the book drew tears to my eyes, a few times, but to be honest, I am a crier. I definitely recommend this book.
Profile Image for Eduardo Santiago.
593 reviews30 followers
March 29, 2012
TL;DR Blind people can do more than you think they can. Also, if you get to pick your parents, make sure you get supportive ones who encourage you to do all you can (vs the mollycoddling kind).

I feel disappointed, and I almost feel like I should apologize for it (but I won't). I expected a book titled “Thunder Dog” to, you know, deal a bit more with the dog. Instead it was a long motivational speech. With occasional God silliness and OBTW I walked down the stairs on 9/11.

Hingson has a chip on his shoulder. Understandably ... but he claims to speak for all blind people, and that's just not reasonable or even fair. I kept flashing back to Mr. García, my high school physics and calculus teacher. My mentor. One of the best men I've known. Also blind. Also proud (deservedly so). But I feel confident that Hingson does not speak for Mr. García.

Ultimately, Hingson's message is lost: he asks “don't treat us any differently” while also prescribing “here's how to treat us”; meaning “how to treat me”. That's fine if I happen to meet you, Mr. Hingson, but the world is not one-size-fits-all. Each creature I meet, blind or deaf or blonde or crinkly-nosed, will have different desires in how to be treated. Let us listen and discover one-on-one.
Profile Image for JD.
666 reviews274 followers
March 17, 2020
This is a book I feel bad not giving a 5-star, but I just did not feel the story. Though it focuses mostly on a man and his guide-dog escaping the Twin Towers on 9/11, there is not a lot other than them leaving by the stairs of Tower 1 after the first plane hit and his feelings and thoughts during it. The real interesting part of the book is his life story and him overcoming being born blind which is really inspiring. This shows that with determination you can overcome anything and do anything you put your mind to.
Profile Image for Katie Pedersen.
469 reviews37 followers
September 11, 2018
Reader beware. The title of this book is somewhat misleading. In my opinion, this book was about an arrogant blind man's life. The intro kind of hooked me, but with the incessant flash-backs and cocky attitude, I lost interest fast.

Parts of this book were told well. The descriptions were interesting and SOME of his background was fascinating. But overall, I felt like he could have been a little bit more modest. Don't get me wrong, I think what he is capable of and what he has achieved is remarkable. However, the way in which he told us of his triumphs and achievements was a bit smug. A little over halfway through, even his friend outright told him "Michael, you're arrogant..." Having my assumptions verified by another was really a relief. I thought it was just me who thought he was arrogant.

I think his choice of words just rubbed me the wrong way, time and time again. "Friends and family often asked if I had survivor's remorse. I did not." Wow. Okay. Maybe you can soften the blow for us a bit?

"Taking the offer would also mean giving up my six-figure regional sales manager's salary." Six figures, huh? Is that necessary? Must be nice.

"I will never get tired of telling my story..." Of course you won't.

"People ask me, 'How did you train that dog to do that?' I just put her through the training, and the rest was her will and her strong temperament." Um, you weren't the only one to train her! She was trained prior to being matched with you. Give credit when credit is due.

"I prefer to defuse uncomfortable situations with humor, engaging people and trying to help keep every interaction positive." Um, most of us do that. This doesn't make you special.

Now part of me couldn't help but think that parts of his beliefs were a bit contradictory and even a little hypocritical. "They were treating me like I was weak and helpless, and it was time to take a stand, just like my parents did when I got kicked off the school bus. Most people have no clue how blind people survive and function every day in the light-dependent world. When you are blind, most everything is risky. The world isn't set up with us in mind. But we can and do cope." Right there he says almost everything they do is risky, yet he acts offended when people offer him help or special treatment in a NICE way. Soooo he wants to complain about how the world isn't made easy for him, but refuses and is insulted by a helping hand?

Then he goes on to say "I will know that I'm a real first-class citizen when I can walk into restaurants with friends and the servers ask me for my order rather than asking my sighted colleagues, 'What does he want?'" So he understands that complete integration is just not there yet because unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it), he is part of a minority. Yet he EXPECTS to be treated the same as everyone else? Unfortunately, I feel like that expectation is currently unrealistic.

I fell like instead of writing a book idolizing himself, he could use his efforts to educate "the sighted community" in an effort to push towards full integration. Or start a company that services to this niche market. I personally don't think this book does that.

After this long review, I'm changing my rating from a 2 star, to a 1 star. Of all of the things I mentioned above, not one had to do with 9/11, nor his "Thunder Dog." This book missed the mark for me but I am very happy he and his dog survived and that he has been able to accomplish as much as he has.
Profile Image for Donna.
3,834 reviews2 followers
March 14, 2016
The title is a little misleading. It is not a book about Roselle, who happens to be the author's seeing eye dog. It is more about the author, his blindness, him overcoming his handicap, him trying to get others to overlook his handicap, and walking down the stairs of World Trade Center's north tower after the first plane hit.

I liked this. It sounded like a pep talk for living your life to the fullest, even if you have a handicap. His dog sounded perfect. I wish we had more info on her.
August 30, 2011
It's been hours since I finished reading the book and I can still feel the flow of emotions I had while reading it. Although, I am amazed at how Michael Hingson overcame his "disability" the feeling of being awe inspired is also mixed with a feeling of dread at what happened on 9/11. To be able to read it from the perspective of a survivor somehow makes it all real for me. Of course, all that is real. However, being on the other side of the globe when all that happened, I felt somehow detached like all that was just surreal. In fact, I don't even remember what I was doing at that time while all that was happening. Now, after reading his book, I feel that I have been there myself. I felt that I too have survived the attack on 9/11. I can only imagine, but what I have imagined is already too great for me to take in. All in all, it's a good read. I was even surprised that I enjoyed it since this is not normally the type of book I'd pick up from the book shelves of a bookstore to buy let alone borrow from a library. It's simply something that someone suggested that I read and I simply said, why not. I'm grateful to that person. Because, from now on I may have a different attitude when it comes to facing a difficult situation in life.
Profile Image for Amanda Tero.
Author 24 books522 followers
September 3, 2017
What if you were blind, on the 78th floor of Twin Tower 1, at the time the plane crashed into it?

Wow. Just wow. This book flips between 9/11 and Michael’s life, being blind almost from birth. Not only is the story of how he survived 9/11 breathtaking (and almost tear-jerking), but it also highlights his faith in God and how he entrusted his life to God’s care when fear could have instead taken place.

This book takes you on a journey through Michael’s life, how he overcame obstacles and lived his life just like everyone else. He focuses on how being blind didn’t limit him and how the treatment of others toward his blindness either helped or hurt (though, amazingly, he has such an amazing attitude toward people who “just don’t understand”).

I can’t think of a more cohesive way to write a review, but you just need to read this book. It was truly amazing (because of the terror of 9/11 and a few minor references, I would recommend this to readers 14+).
Profile Image for Melissa Reinke.
40 reviews6 followers
May 11, 2011
At first glance one would think Thunder Dog is a moving and inspirational tale of a blind man and his guide dog who survived 9/11 in the World Trade Center, but it is so much more than that. Thunder Dog is as much a about the story of Michael Hingson's life as it is about that fateful day at Ground Zero. Complete with Courtesy Rules for Blindness and a dissertation by former National Federation of the Blind president Kenneth Jernigan, Thunder Dog is an (excuse the expression) eye-opening piece of literature.
Profile Image for Abigail.
37 reviews1 follower
September 18, 2012
I recommend you read this book, if you want to read an inspiring book about the human spirit during one of the darkest days in United States history. The author turned a horrible moment and found inspiration and deepened his faith from the experience. I believe anybody would find this book inspiring no matter what religion they are. I enjoyed learning about how the author Michael Hingson and his guide dog Roselle escaped the World Trade Center Building 1 after it was attacked on 9/11. The author writes about the descent down the staircases with a coworker, David and their ordeal that frightful day. He tells of the many ways he has dealt with being blind since birth, and the different technology that he uses. He also explains how his parents wanted him to be mainstreamed and taught him to be independent, which it sounds like he truly is. I learned from reading this book about the prejudices that occur against people with blindness, and how to treat blind people when you are with them.

I feel better after reading this book, even though there are evil people in the world. One realizes that being angry is not a helpful emotion. I like the author's attitude when he has issues about being blind and people did not treat him well. The author also wrote a chapter from his wife's prospective, once she realized that her husband was in the World Trade Center when it got attacked, what she was thinking and doing till she heard he was safe.

The author did a wonderful job of interpreting Psalm 23...The Lord is my shepherd. The book is excellent and I would love to hear the author speak publicly since he must be very inspiring to hear. I love the author's ten things he learned from his guide dogs called Guide Dog Wisdom.

I read the book on my Kindle. I wish the book would have shown Popular Highlights, like other books on my Kindle often does. Reading Popular Highlights makes for more interesting reading, but I won't drop it a star because of this. I myself highlighted 30 different times while reading this book.

Here are some of my favorite highlights:

I like the part when Mike helped someone down the stairs into the subway area, when there was a cloud of dust that made it difficult to see. He states,"This time the blind really is leading the blind, but why should that be unusual? After all, helping this lady is what teamwork is all about.

The story about how Mike and his guide dog ran into Peter Falk in an airport and he rubbed his dog's belly was amusing, "He spent ten minutes on his knees on the carpet, scratching her stomach." I could picture Peter Falk doing this. I always thought Peter Falk seemed nice.

"Persistent anger isn't productive.... So I choose engagement."

"...sight is not the only game in town. Blindness is not a handicap; it's something I've always lived with. The real handicap comes from the prejudices people have about blindness."

"But, I also decided to live out the rest of my life on the "why not" principle. And those two words are my secret, the secret behind blind power, Why not? Why not ride a bike...Why not try it all, just to see if I can do it?"

"A wise man once said that we all have disabilities; it's just that most of them are invisible."

"The experiences of today, as nightmarish as they have been, are also an opportunity, a chance to learn and to grow. I'm not sure yet what the lessons are, but I know they will be there."

"We need to continue to dream, and we need to learn how to work with each other...."

"We can't let fear paralyze us. We must carry on. The best way we can honor those we lost in the fires of September 11 is by moving forward and building a better society through trust and teamwork. We can make it happen."

"We need to dream, to dare, and to do. I lived a nightmare at Ground Zero, but even a nightmare can turn into a happy ending if we refuse to give in to fear."
Profile Image for Carol.
536 reviews54 followers
July 24, 2016

We live in a town that is home to Leader Dogs for the Blind and are lucky to see them in training almost every week in and about town guiding their new “owners” on their paths to a new independence, a new journey and a new love affair with their canine partners. It is always a beautiful and smile-inducing sight which somehow brings tears to my eyes.

"Thunder Dog" is a nicely written book about just such a partnership. It moved between the events of 9/11 when the author, Michael Hingson and his guide dog, Roselle were escaping the World Trade Center and the events that led up to that fateful day including his life as a blind person and how he came to share his life with Roselle.

Michael Hingson is not an ordinary man and Roselle is no ordinary dog. The bond they have, the development of trust between them, the courage they both exhibited everyday even before the terrorist attack are all part of the wonderful story. Yes, he shares some of the challenges and frustrations of being blind in a seeing world, but he is far from self-pitying. This is a man who pushes his limits everyday. He also had an extraordinary way of relaying to the reader how he perceives the world, how he uses echolocation to enhance his sense of is surroundings, and how Roselle participates in that journey. If you are looking for a story that is uplifting, this is it. It also makes it a little hard to feel sorry for yourself when you look at the challenges some people go through everyday. What a great pair they were. And what a great read.

BTW, “thunder dog” relates to Roselle being afraid of thunder, but on “that” day under “those” horrific circumstances, with all “that” thunderous noise, Roselle did her job perfectly....
Profile Image for Rachel.
27 reviews6 followers
September 12, 2011
So I was a little skeptical of this book at first. I mean, it's called Thunder Dog. But the premise sounded interesting: A blind man who works on the 78th floor of Tower One relies on his trusty guide dog to help him navigate the destruction of 9/11. That story is interwoven with stories of Michael's experiences being blind. About his parents, his education (his parents mainstreamed him when no one else was doing that), his hobbies, his work, his guide dogs, his wife, and some general information about blindness and blind organizations.

The latter was a little tedious at times. It seemed like a lot of biography and just a little bit of 9/11. The 9/11 parts of the story seemed to be stretched very thin and the bulk of the book was about his life. And I thought the book would be a little longer, but there's a large chunk in the back with resources for the blind, text of a speech, etc. While reading it, I could tell that the author isn't primarily a writer. Not that anyone can't tell their story, but it makes a difference in the flow of the writing.

It was fascinating to read about how guide dogs are trained and how they function. They're like furry little machines when it comes to doing their job, and even in the chaos of 9/11, Hingson's dog, Roselle, didn't falter. She got him down 1,463 stairs, through the dust cloud after the collapse, and home at the end of the day. Hingson stresses that it's a partnership; he and the dog are a team. After reading his harrowing escape from the World Trade Center, I believe it. When humans take on an every-man-for-himself attitude, a guide dog doesn't. That amazes me.

So the book was OK. It's not a bad read, but not high on my list.
August 9, 2011
As soon as I saw the cover of this book, I knew I had to read it. I’m a sucker for true stories – especially true stories with canines as the subject matter. And when I found out that this story also revolved around September 11th, I was hooked.

Thunder Dog is a very emotional read. Not only does it tell the story of Roselle, a beautiful guide dog loyal to her master, it tells the story of a brave man (who also happens to be blind), and how he helped encourage others down the treacherous Stairwell B of what was Tower I in the World Trade Center.

Michael Hingson not only escaped Tower I with his life and his guide dog; he emerged with a new perspective on life. I was absolutely amazed at what Mike has been able to accomplish and what a positive attitude he has along with his zest for life. The book goes back and forth from what was actually happening on the day of 9/11 to memories of Michael’s life growing up.

This book was so captivating, I read it one day.


Mike’s perspective of September 11th is completely different than any others I’ve read because he tells the story from inside Tower I even before the first plane hit. You get a better understanding of what happened that day and what was going on in the minds of those inside the chaotic World Trade Center. Many of those trapped inside did not realize that a plane had hit their building.

Mike’s keen senses alerted him to the smell of jet fuel and yet no one had told him at that point, what had happened. I was amazed at what he was able to discern while all around him terror and chaos broke out.

I highly recommend this book!
Profile Image for Susie.
1,584 reviews21 followers
September 13, 2012
My church book club chose to read this for our September meeting, and it felt very appropriate that I finished listening to this on September 11. Because of that, I felt more connected than the 10th anniversary last year when there were many more events to commemorate the day. I had no idea of the organization of the book, since I never saw it in print. At first when Hingson related the events of the day and their descent, I wondered if the entire book would be about September 11. However, he does a fairly decent job of weaving in stories of his past as they relate to the aspects of his job and the climb down the stairs. I did come away with a better understanding of blindness and guide dogs. Despite other comments here to the contrary, I feel he does a nice job of honoring Roselle and other service dogs.

It's only fitting that this book has an audio version, which includes Jernigan's speech and a speech by Hingson himself (partly promoting the book), which includes a thorough retelling of the day's events. I'm still amazed at his story of riding his bike around town, and impressed with his ability to create his own type of mind maps to navigate so well. I appreciated the depiction of improvements in technology to aid the blind, and the inclusion of Kurzweil.

Try as I might, even after listening to this book, I can't imagine the horror of being at the World Trade Center that day, or even in New York. I was also surprised that it was hours before the people even knew what had happened. How ironic that a dog so frightened of thunder could be so calm in view of the events of that day. I'm very glad that I listened to this book.
Profile Image for Jill Hallenbeck.
1,302 reviews
December 28, 2011
"Don't let your sight get in the way of your vision." thought-provoking!

"She kisses his hand and then he is gone. I would realize later that this touch was probably the last unconditional love he ever got." The author is talking about his guidedog Roselle snuzzling a firefighter on his way up the stairs of Tower 1 on 9/11/01.

Thunder Dog is a fast read and is a touching first-hand account of survival on that terrible day. The author is blind and with his guidedog and a co-worker, he makes it out and away from the Towers. While 9/11 is the focus for the story telling, the author uses the lessons learned that day to relate the bigger story of surviving in the world organized for the sighted. It is interesting and teaches. There is an interesting essay by a leader of the National Federation of the Blind about how being blind in our world is kind of like being left-handed. Things are created mostly by right-handed people for other right-handed people. I found this enlightening even though many in my family are left-handed. Being blind or left-handed is a nuisance, not a national tragedy, if I might summarize. There is also a list of manners for us sighted folks to remember when dealing with the blind - awesome; someone wrote them down!!

Go Roselle and Michael, and all you left-handed people too!

Not the best-written book in the world, but I loved the lessons.
November 3, 2014
I recommend you read this book. I really liked the inspirational story of this man being saved by his dog. if you want to read an inspiring book about the human spirit during one of the darkest days in United States history. The author turned a horrible moment and found inspiration and deepened his faith from the experience. I believe anybody would find this book inspiring no matter what there past knowledge is about the guide dog foundation
Profile Image for Christy Trever.
613 reviews17 followers
September 11, 2011
Thunder 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.
Profile Image for Jennifer Meyer.
108 reviews4 followers
July 11, 2015
Not what it seemed

2.5 stars. I thought this book would focus more on Michael and his guide dog's escape from the World Trade Center. There was more on his childhood and college years, and how he dealt with his blindness. I found myself skipping the other parts, or I might have given up reading the book.
Profile Image for Angie.
1,193 reviews130 followers
February 7, 2014
Reading Thunder Dog was a suspenseful, frightening and yet deeply spiritual experience. Starting with a thunder storm in the early hours of 11 September 2001, Michael Hingson and his guide dog, Roselle, takes the reader through the horrifying events at the World Trade Center. From the moment the first plane crashes into the north tower, down 1,463 steps and out into the chaos of the streets that surround the WTC, to the collapse of the towers and the author's perilous journey home; this is a reading experience nobody should miss.

Having owned and trained numerous dogs and having had guide dogs of my own, I'm going to start my rave about this book with Roselle. Although a guide dog must be able to keep calm and continue working under most circumstances, it is still remarkable that Roselle, who is afraid of thunder, kept her head during the noise and stressful atmosphere of 9/11. More than that, she found time to touch the hearts of a woman who started panicking as well as a fire fighter on his way to the inferno higher up in the building.

"He gives Roselle one last pat. She kisses his hand and then he is gone. I would realize later that this touch was probably the last unconditional love he ever got."

Each chapter starts with a relevant quote that ties into the contents of that chapter. While the author tells about his experiences, he frequently flashes back to his youth and his life as a blind person. Although this is highly informative, it also serves to crank up the suspense of how, and in what state, he will eventually emerge from this disaster. Thunder Dog is called a page-turner in the foreword with good reason. The information about blindness and guide dogs in this book is presented in a positive, even fascinating way. Part of one chapter, told from Michael's wife's point of view, emphasizes the concern and fear felt by the loved ones of those caught up in the events of 9/11.

The descriptions of what Michael experiences through hearing, touch and smell while exiting the building and leaving the area, is so vivid that it creates a realistic feeling of menace and fear for the reader. Add to this the scenes of chaos, seen through the eyes of a business associate, David Frank, and Thunder Dog becomes a book that truly lets one experience that day in history.

Apart from all the descriptions and recollections in this book, there is also a profound spirituality to it. The question of faith and trust in God is addressed in a touching manner that definitely made an impact on me.

"We have to get out of the dust or we are going to die. But even in the dust cloud, with my guide dog now blind, too, I feel God’s presence. He is with me. I am not alone. I am running with Roselle."

Thunder Dog is not without its fair share of humor. The author has a fine sense of humor which is liberally distributed throughout the book. While walking down the 1,463 steps, isolated from what is happening outside, he makes the following suggestion:

“I have an idea. On our first day back in the tower, let’s all meet on the 78th floor at 8:45 a.m. and walk down the stairs as a way to lose weight.”

For a reading experience that will have you alternating between nail-biting suspense, the occasional laugh, and definitely a few tears, I recommend this unforgettable book as an absolute must read. Join Michael and Roselle on their walk to safety and share in their fear, uncertainty, mutual trust and eventual victory. (Ellen Fritz)
6 reviews
Read
March 8, 2012
Michael Hingson’s purpose in writing Thunder Dog was to share his experiences on 9/11 as he escaped one of the Twin Towers with his guide dog Roselle. Mr. Hingson, who has been blind since infancy, lets the reader know how capable he is despite his blindness. He also shares how important a guide dog is to a blind person. Michael Hingson gives the reader a view of his every day life along with the minute-by-minute details of his experiences on 9/11.

The theme of the book was trust. Michael Hingson had complete trust in his guide dog, Roselle, and in God. He trusted Roselle to help him in his every day life and trusted her even more to help him as he tried to escape from the Twin Towers. He also shared in the book his strong faith in God, and how he heard God speaking to him as he was trying to escape the towers.

The style of the book was narration. Mr. Hingson shared the story of his life beginning with his blindness that was discovered when he was an infant on through his childhood and college years and finally ending with his experiences on 9/11 as he tried to escape from his office in the Twin Towers. This was an effective style since it let the reader see inside his life and experiences.

I thought the book was educational and interesting. I learned things about blindness and guide dogs that I didn’t know. I also learned about the frightening experiences and courage that people showed in the Twin Towers on 9/11. There wasn’t anything I disliked about the book or would change about it. I hadn’t ever read any books about 9/11 and found it very interesting.
Profile Image for yuki.
35 reviews
November 14, 2011
A powerful tale of courage and trust. I picked this book because I thought it was a dog story and also I was traveling to the states soon. I was expecting to learn something about the country I was about to visit. 9/11 was one of the crucial event of their country as so it is to the world also. Story of smart dog was merely entering point for me to get to know the event from a different angle. However, this book is more than that. It is about how trust can thrust amid of difficulties and create a way to get through the situation. Trust between a guide dog and her owner saved lives of their own and others. The owner, blind from the beginning of his life, made his way into the world by trusting his abilities to sense and vision, and also by being in belief of his parents that he can be independent and happy like any other people can be. Reader of this book will learn power of trust and courage through his story. If you are in the life of struggle to free yourself from things that are embedded in your life beyond your will and many people tend to consider to be obstacle or constraints will find this book empowering.
Profile Image for Renee.
329 reviews
August 14, 2011
Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson with Susy Flory is about much more than a guide dog named Roselle. The book intertwines the events of 9/11 as experienced by the author in the north tower of the World Trade Center with his life story. We hear first-hand what one man experienced with his guide dog as he made his way down seventy-eight flights of stairs to safety. We also learn of the life of a blind man growing up in a family that treated him as any seeing child - even driving a car at times.

I fully expected the focus of the book to be on the dog (and I am not a dog person) but it didn't come across that way to me as the reader; rather it was a story of trust and triumph. I was on the edge of my seat reading how one man putting his trust in a guide dog survived not only at Ground Zero but also excelled in life. Thunder Dog brings the reader inside the north tower to share the experiences of one survivor and into the life of a man destined to be successful in life despite what society views as a disability.
Profile Image for Nenette.
849 reviews51 followers
December 14, 2011
There's more to this true story than the title suggests. The ordeal that Mike Hingson and his guide dog Roselle experienced during 9/11 is really a wonderful story about courage, trust and overcoming obstacles. But there's more to it - the 9/11 experience opened an opportunity for Mike to show the world that blindness is just an inconvenience, not a disability. Mike's blindness did not prevent him to enjoy his childhood, excel in his studies, be gainfully employed. It did not stop him to ride a bike, drive a car or even fly a plane! Most of all, it did not stop him to love and be loved in return. I am awed by your story, Mr. Hingson. I applaud you and Roselle, much as I applaud your parents who did a great job in raising you. I wish you, Karen and all your loved ones the best.
Profile Image for Suzanne.
811 reviews
October 8, 2019
While not perfect—for instance, I found the changes in tense inconsistent and confusing at times—the story did hold my interest from start to finish. I think it also succeeded in the goal of the author (at least what I perceived to be his goal), to offer hope in troubled times and to educate those who don't understand the blind.


This was also a story from 9/11 unlike any I've read/heard over the past near decade. I truly felt the silence of that stairwell and how cut off those escaping were from anything happening outside those concrete walls. It gave me a new perspective on their courage.


In this harrowing story of trust and courage, discover how blindness and a bond between dog and man saved lives and brought hope during one of America’s darkest days.
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