Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson
Michael Hingson has been blind since a very young, age, not long after birth actually. Michael was born premature in the 1950s. During this time, it was a common practice to put babies in incubators with oxygen rich air. This caused a condition which caused many premature babies from the era to go blind. Michael’s parents were not worried though. They wanted Michael to have as normal of a life as possible.
Michael went to school. Michael learned how to ride a bike. He learned braille. He got braille writers, which enabled him to write himself. Michael learned to do everything other kids did. When he was a teenager, Michael got a guide dog. This was not a common occurrence during the time and Michael was barred from activities and places that didn’t realize that the law was for a guide dog to be able to go anywhere.
Michael went to college and went on to get a master’s degree. He worked for several companies that advanced technology for the blind. In 2001, Michael worked for a company in the World Trade Center on floor seventy-eight. Michael was at work when the plane hit the tower.
Michael and his colleague knew not to take the elevators. They had to take the stairs, all seventy-eight floors of them. Michael had his guide dog, Roselle, there with him that day. The smell of jet fuel was strong. Michael figured that a plane had to have hit the tower. At first, there was hardly anybody going down the stairs with Michael, Roselle, and his colleague. This was because people were trapped up above. Michael and his guide dog went down the stairs, one at a time. There were nineteen stairs in each floor. Michael counted each one of them.
Burn victims started coming down the stairs. More and more people started to go down the stairs as well. The fire fighters eventually came up. They were fire fighters who would most likely did not come back down the stairs. Michael and Roselle eventually made it to the bottom not too long before the tower collapsed.
Because Roselle did so well with getting Michael down the stairs, she was awarded with medals and her name was retired from the guide dog group. There will never be another Roselle trained as a guide dog. Michael and his wife left New York not too long after this and went back to California. Michael continued to work for organizations for the blind.
What I liked
I can imagine that this ordeal was quite scary for Michael. I can’t imagine going down seventy-eight floors, in a compromised building, not being able to see anything. I don’t think many guide dogs have been called on to lead people through anything similar. I think Roselle was a very good dog for being able to do this. Michael is impressive himself, doing all the things that he did while blind.
What I didn’t like
I don’t like that Michael experienced discrimination in his life for being blind. That’s stupid. Michael is clearly very accomplished; heck, Michael’s accomplished even without the blind factor thrown in. Any company should be glad to hire Michael.
I hate the idea of the world trade center attack. People died, a lot of them, horrible deaths, because someone decided that they could play with people’s lives. Someone was selfish enough to set things in motion to ruin the lives of thousands of people that day. Heck children born on that day, and after, have never experienced a time in United States history when we haven’t been at war because of that day. Our children are growing up with war and the word “terrorist” as normal parts of their lives.
Every time I read something about the world trade center, it makes me sad. I remember where I was when I saw the first tower fall and I’m glad Michael was out of it before it did fall.
Roselle was definitely one brave dog.
Could you go down seventy-eight flights of stairs?
Could you go down seventy-eight flights of stairs without being able to see?