Have Dog, Will Travel/ posted in: Reading Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey with an Exceptional Labrador by Stephen Kuusisto
on March 13th 2018
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Published by Simon Schuster
Setting: New York
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 partnership of movement, mutual self-interest, and wanderlust. Walking with Corky in Manhattan for the first time, Steve discovers he’s “living the chaos of joy—you’re in love with your surroundings, loving a barefoot mind, wild to go anyplace.”
Have Dog, Will Travel is the inside story of how a person establishes trust with a dog, how a guide dog is trained. Corky absolutely transforms Steve’s life and his way of being in the world. Profound and deeply moving, theirs is a spiritual journey, during which Steve discovers that joy with a guide dog is both a method and a state of mind. Guaranteed to make you laugh—and cry—this beautiful reflection on the highs, lows, and everyday details that make up life with a guide dog provides a profound exploration of Stephen’s lifelong struggle with disability, identity, and the midlife events that lead to self-acceptance.
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 how 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.