Books I Recommend

A couple months before the idea of getting a Guide Dog puppy ever even crossed my mind, I happened to read two books that later influenced me greatly in that decision. Both books were just random selections that happened to be available by downloadable audio on our public library's website. (I rarely "read" a book because I like to multi-task. I prefer to listen to books on MP3 while I'm driving, running, or working, thus accomplishing two things at once.)

The first is called Crashing Through, by Robert Kurson. It's the true life story of a man named Mike May, who was blinded at age 3. Although completely blind, there was almost nothing this man couldn't do. He rode bicycles, went downhill skiing, even tried driving a car, and worked for the CIA. Then, 43 years later, surgery was able to restore his sight. It was remarkable to read about how being given sight was not the same as knowing how to see. His eyes worked, but his brain wasn't always able to interpret what he was seeing into things he could comprehend. This book gave me a keen interest and insight into those dealing with issues of blindness.

The second book is called Merle's Door, by Ted Kerasote, about the author's experiences with a dog he finds while on a camping trip in Wyoming. Merle, the dog, is a Labrador mix, and they form an instantaneous bond with each other. The author does tend to humanize Merle quite a bit, giving great meaning to the dog's every gesture. The author is also a big fan of letting his dog live off-leash and wander around their neighborhood at will (although they do live in a rural area), despite leash laws. But the book showed how strong and meaningful a relationship between dog and owner can be. Let me warn you, though--it's a tear jerker.

Having never had a dog as an adult and unsure whether we wanted to make a 10+ year commitment to a dog, getting a Guide Dog puppy for a year or so seemed like a great way to get our feet wet. It was a very good decision. Guide Dogs for the Blind gives us such tremendous information and instruction, and without that, I don't think we would have been successful pet owners. Of course, my goal now is to have Cabana become a working Guide Dog--but whatever happens, whether Cabana makes it as a Guide Dog or becomes a wonderful pet, I know I have been changed, for good.

Brittany  – (March 26, 2009 at 11:14 AM)  

They both sound like great books! "Planet of the Blind" is another good one about a man who is blind. I knew I would never be the same after getting Patriot almost 7 years ago. This truely is a life changing experience, no matter the outcome!

raiserally  – (March 26, 2009 at 5:25 PM)  

I was just at the book store and saw Merle's Door yesterday! I wanted to get it but it was on our way out, I'll have to go check it out!

Becky  – (March 27, 2009 at 6:30 AM)  

What a touching post - I am so inspired by those who make this commitment. Love her new collar!

L and L  – (March 28, 2009 at 7:33 AM)  

Thanks for the recommendations. I'll look for these. I think they would be great reads while we wait for our puppy.

PS - your new banner is adorable! One of the many things I would love to learn how to do on our blog!

Poppy The Puppy  – (March 28, 2009 at 9:57 AM)  

I always feel like I should start these "Oh Cabana, you're so cute!" It is always the first thing I think when I see Cabana pictures!

Thanks for the book recommendations! Mike May's book should be interesting. His old guide came to the vet clinic I worked in during college. I saw, first hand, how "sight" and "vision" are so different when seeing him around town.

But, I think your recommendations need to come with a Kleenex alert! Just how many will it take to get through Merle's Door and how early in the book will I need them?

Garth Stein wrote a book called The Art of Racing in the Rain. So good! A ton of anthropomorphizing, but a great read requiring at least a full box of Kleenex. It starts early - I didn't make it through the first 5 minutes without thinking twice about the book!

Cabana's Puppy Raiser  – (March 28, 2009 at 1:00 PM)  

Thank you, Brittany and Poppy, for the other book recommendations. I'm definitely going to check those out.

As for Merle's Door, I didn't cry at all when I read it because I wasn't a dog owner back then. Now, I understand how much a person can love their doggies. But I don't think you need Kleenex until pretty close to the end, if I remember correctly.

pgriffo  – (April 12, 2009 at 12:57 PM)  

Hi, just found you blog after searching on google, We have just got our first puppy for puppy walking in the uk, he is 7 weeks old and called Stanley, everything seems so hard at the moment, don't know if we are doing everything right or wrong, should we be doing this or that, was glad to read your blog just to know we are not on our own here. Pgriffo

Cabana's Puppy Raiser  – (April 12, 2009 at 4:25 PM)  

pgriffo, wow, 7 weeks is very young! We got Cabana at 9 weeks, and for the first two weeks, yes, EVERYTHING was very hard. For me, the first order of business was house breaking and sleeping in her crate at night. But once we got those two things under control, it became much easier. Be encouraged, though--the time goes by very quickly, and puppies learn and grow so fast. Feel free to contact me if you want more info.

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