Have Dog, Will Travel
A Poet's JourneyBook - 2018
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.
From the critics
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"We entered [Central Park in New York City] ... and made our way to the boat pond. I walked with my eyes closed. I'd always suffered from tremendous eye pain and [his guide dog] Corky's skill allowed me to rest them, to give up on the desperation of residual sight. It was a late April day and the scent of new grass was on the wind. And from a distance we heard boaters laughing on the water." (p. 157)
"... I stopped and sat on a bench and Corky lay beside me. ... I was filled with changes - transformations both big and small had come over me in just a few short days [at the service dog school]. I sat with my left hand on Corky's head and breathed in and out slowly. I was mindful of my healing - not because blindness needed cure, far from it. I was healing from a wounding failure to love my blindness. I was embracing emotions I hadn't known were in me. Where before I'd felt abandoned, I now appreciated the acceptance of others. Strangers on the streets admired the man-dog walking with our two heads up. ... No I didn't need to be cured of disability. ... I would let jubilations into my life - our life, the Corky-Steve life." (p. 80-81)
"Pretending to see had been my one big trick and I'd been doing it with moderate success all my life. Sitting alone in the diner, killing time, worrying about how to live [after losing his job], I thought more deliberately ... about the art of pretending to see, how it had essentially always been a chicken game. In chicken, two automobile drivers race wildly toward each other. In blind chicken, the opposing driver is the world. While pretending to see, reality was my opposing driver. Would he quiver? Would 'the real' step aside for my blind race? I'd always counted on it. (p. 10)
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The author was born legally blind but he was raised by his parents in the 50s to deny his blindness in order to 'pass' as sighted. He attended public school (where he was bullied relentlessly), 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 and getting around tapping his white cane. Then, at the age of thirty-eight, he was laid off. With no job prospects in upstate New York, he would have to travel to find work. This revealing memoir is how he attended "Guiding Eyes" to be paired with a Labrador dog named 'Corky'. The author recounts how an incredible partnership with a guide dog changed his life and the wondrous adventure that began. Profound and deeply moving, this memoir is a spiritual journey, and the story of discovering that life with a guide dog forms a strong bond of mutual trust.
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