Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey with an Exceptional Labrador

Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey with an Exceptional Labrador

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 part...

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Title:Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey with an Exceptional Labrador
Author:Stephen Kuusisto
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Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey with an Exceptional Labrador Reviews

  • Renée

    FIVE PAWS: Stephen Kuusisto's "Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey with an Exceptional Labrador" has taken its spot as one of my all-time favorite dog books. Profoundly moving and beautifully written.

  • Evelina | AvalinahsBooks

    by Stephen Kuusisto is an incredibly touching love song to dogs – not just guide dogs as a means for a person to be

    to experience so much more freedom, but simply the ever loving nature of these wonderful creatures and how they can transform a person's life.

    by Stephen Kuusisto is an incredibly touching love song to dogs – not just guide dogs as a means for a person to be

    to experience so much more freedom, but simply the ever loving nature of these wonderful creatures and how they can transform a person's life.

    So they told him to hide it, to pretend

    How Stephen managed to live half of his life this way and even teach students remains a mystery to me – nothing short of a miracle.

    – it's the fact that one day he had enough. And that's when he decided to request a seeing eye dog.

    is the story of this change. And it's nothing short of amazing. The story goes through the exhillaration of freedom, freedom of movement, freedom of choice, so many freedoms suddenly within Stephen's grasp. But it's not just that. It's also the freedom to love and be loved.

    Read more about how guide dogs give the blind people more freedom and loving acceptance in my full review on my

    . There you will also find more from this book about how you should NOT treat a blind person and generally avoid being ableist.

  • Nick Aaron

    This memoir is beautifully written. Being blind is not sad. Apart from all else, Stephen Kuusisto preaches this by example: when you’re a talented poet and you’re capable of writing in such an undramatic yet compelling voice, you have no reason to be sad.

    And the stories about Corky are just wonderful. Conveying the reality of living and working with a guide dog in a very imaginative way, the author brings it alive completely.

    Simply a great read!

  • Amyiw

    4 1/2

    I want to give this a 5 but the end lost me in a bit too much philosophy. I don't think I've gotten there in life, maybe I never will. Still the first 80% was very good, great at many points, thought provoking, humorous, life changing (for him), and bit of thought on life and life choices, how we see ourselves and how this can change. I laughed quite a bit and thought quite a bit. I never have known a blind person really. I have a friend with very poor near vision but can drive. He is discr

    4 1/2

    I want to give this a 5 but the end lost me in a bit too much philosophy. I don't think I've gotten there in life, maybe I never will. Still the first 80% was very good, great at many points, thought provoking, humorous, life changing (for him), and bit of thought on life and life choices, how we see ourselves and how this can change. I laughed quite a bit and thought quite a bit. I never have known a blind person really. I have a friend with very poor near vision but can drive. He is discriminated with jobs. Still a blind person that cannot easily travel in a new situation or area, no not really. After reading this I feel like a get a bit more of what it means. I also now know why you shouldn't pet a guide dog. I've met a few trainers actually and was told no to pets but not why. I didn't ask or push as I knew they had their reasons. I loved the dog love and learning dog of this book. Dog lovers will either love or really like this book. I was given this book by my step-mom and will give the audio to my adult son. I think he'll appreciate the life changes

  • Karen Wingate

    Have Dog, Will Travel is the poignant memoir of a visually impaired man's path to freedom through the harness of a sighted guide dog. At times, literary bordering on on poetic, and at other times, packed with historical information. the author takes the reader through his early decision to get a guide dog, the training, and the aftermath of living with a guide dog and working through the reactions of an uninformed society. I appreciated the blending of feelings and facts; of education and emotio

    Have Dog, Will Travel is the poignant memoir of a visually impaired man's path to freedom through the harness of a sighted guide dog. At times, literary bordering on on poetic, and at other times, packed with historical information. the author takes the reader through his early decision to get a guide dog, the training, and the aftermath of living with a guide dog and working through the reactions of an uninformed society. I appreciated the blending of feelings and facts; of education and emotion. This was a well written book. Those with disabilities will resonate with the author's adjustments. Those who have no disability or exposure to those who do will catch a glimpse of what it's like to have a disability (it's not bad - it's different). Finally, it's just good reading about a season of life and letting go of past perspectives to grasp a future of freedom. I highly recommend it!

  • Jill Morgan

    Best book I’ve read in a while. It’s short, but not inconsequential. Stephen is a poet and so he crafts this story well, there’s poetry in his prose. It’s not just a book about a man and a dog, it’s about life, about finding how to continue to live when faced with challenges large and small. How to treat others with patience and kindness. And about the joys of sharing life with a dog, both as a companion and as a guide.

  • Nikki (Saturday Nite Reader)

    I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley for my honest review.

    The author, Stephen Kuusisto, grew up hiding the fact that he was blind. It was not something easily hidden, but it was more a lack of acknowledgement and accommodation of his disability by his mother. He never knew how to embrace his disability, having been forced to hide it. For the first time at the age of 38, he would finally acknowledge his disability and start

    I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley for my honest review.

    The author, Stephen Kuusisto, grew up hiding the fact that he was blind. It was not something easily hidden, but it was more a lack of acknowledgement and accommodation of his disability by his mother. He never knew how to embrace his disability, having been forced to hide it. For the first time at the age of 38, he would finally acknowledge his disability and start his journey to acceptance and independence. His life would change after he chose to get a service dog, who would give him the confidence he needed to find his way in the world.

    The book is written in way that you feel you are sitting in a coffee shop with Stephen and he is telling you about his story. It is very honest and real. I learned new ways of thinking about situations, not just involving disabilities, but how to be kind to all people. There are a few stories where Stephen could have easily been angry with those less tolerant of his disability, but he chose to diffuse the situations with kindness; the one thing the author portrayed was patience. He was often in situations where his conversations revolved around his disability, and further questioning about Corky’s role in aiding him. Because of his disability many people have treated him like he was less of a person. Not realizing that Stephen is person, just because he is disabled it doesn’t mean he can’t still think, have opinions and contribute to society.

    He had a beautiful relationship with Corky, and you learn just how much training and love goes into the process of training both the dogs and those in need of a guide dog. If anything, I learned so much of the training process and that these dogs are professionals and not pets and often need to be treated very differently by outsiders; the book describes the reasons why and Stephen provided many examples of situations he and Corky were in that give perspective to their working relationship.

    Corky gave Stephen confidence. They both relied on each other. Corky was there to help guide Stephen and look out for dangers, but Stephen had to be in the lead. Guide dogs do not choose directions or make decisions, they take the lead from their owner.

    Stephen, through his words, is a voice for those who are struggling as he did early on. He is proof that if you open yourself up to love, you will receive love in return. Corky sounds like an amazing dog, thank you for sharing your story.

  • Sarah Elizabeth

    This book taught me to appreciate poets in a new way. I will admit poetry has never been a favorite of mine, but reading a novel by a poet was a lovely experience. The beginning was an adjustment for me (I found it a little flowery), but I was intrigued by the story and kept reading. The author is blind, and this book is the story of his relationship with his guide dog, Corky. In the course of reading this book, I learned guide dogs were a consequence of war, which I found fascinating. They were

    This book taught me to appreciate poets in a new way. I will admit poetry has never been a favorite of mine, but reading a novel by a poet was a lovely experience. The beginning was an adjustment for me (I found it a little flowery), but I was intrigued by the story and kept reading. The author is blind, and this book is the story of his relationship with his guide dog, Corky. In the course of reading this book, I learned guide dogs were a consequence of war, which I found fascinating. They were used in war for a variety of tasks, but post-WWI, the first guide dogs actually emerged to help blind veterans in Germany.

    One of the things the author discussed at length was how Corky gave him freedom and a way to accept himself (he had grown up deeply ashamed of being blind). He also discussed how being blind isn't his entire personality, but people he meets often only want to discuss that (even at an art retreat, other artists wanted to discuss being blind when he wanted to discuss Jackson Pollack). My mother taught deaf kids how to swim, and is fluent in sign language (no one in our family is deaf). Even today, she still signs while watching movies or television, and I remember watching her hands when I was little and being mesmerized by how quickly her fingers could form unique shapes and make meaning. Because of that experience, deaf and blind individuals don't seem unusual to me. Yes, they are different in that they have trouble hearing and seeing, but at their core, they aren't any different from anyone else.

    When the author learns how to work with his guide dog, he expresses the following thought:

    "From this moment on you will be saying ‘Good dog’ as much as a hundred times a day.” Who affirms good things even a dozen times a day? Who makes “talking goodness” a habit of her or his minutes?" I loved this because of how true it is and how great a reminder it is--make affirmations and talking goodness a habit!

    I also found this interesting: "I like myself better with Corky. Does America’s love of dogs help when it comes to being in public with a disability? Yes. Dogs are icebreakers; they’re tribal totems; they transform space. Am I entirely better off because I have a dog? Probably not . . . Note to self: be careful not to anthropomorphize your dog, not to idealize her. But do acknowledge your trust. Foolish not to." Because I love dogs so much, I probably do idealize them. That he has such a strong bond with his dog and can still have this perspective was interesting.

    One of the other things I liked about this book was how open the author was about his thoughts and feelings. After he gets Corky: "“This must be what sighted people feel like,” I thought as we climbed a steep hill. “You’re just you.” The idea was both banal and oddly original. “You’re just you, or we’re just us,” I said aloud." It brought to light (no pun intended) how much we take for granted with our eyesight. We can go to Walgreen's at midnight because we can't sleep. We can peruse a milliner's shop just because we have nothing better to do.

    I also liked this: "Many books about service animals suggest they heal wounded people, but this is a bit of a misrepresentation. Disabilities never vanish. What a dog can do is entice you back into the world. That’s how a dog thinks of it." He also noted, "A guide dog taught me to live wisely."

    I don't know how someone can read these words and not fall in love with man's best friend. As with most dog books, though, the ending was bittersweet. He said, "But in the veterinary clinic as she was breathing her last I knew quite clearly Corky had spent her life protecting me. She always looked out for me, my special angel. I knew I had to force back my tears because I couldn’t let her die to the sounds of my distress." I thought it was especially poignant that he didn't want to cry to protect Corky, since she had spent her entire life protecting him. It was also a nice perspective because I don't know that I've ever thought about the impact of my tears on a dog.

    A very moving read, and one I would absolutely recommend.

  • Jessica White

    So Stephen Kuusisto was born blind in one eye and soon lost vision in the other eye.

    For 38 years, Stephen pretended he could see. He pretended he was normal. He graduated, went to college, and became a professor, all while pretending he didn't have a disability.

    See when he was growing up, people viewed disabilities as a disease. They didn't know how to react or speak to those with disabilities. So he had no choice but to mask his disability.

    But once his teaching gig didn't last forever, he dec

    So Stephen Kuusisto was born blind in one eye and soon lost vision in the other eye.

    For 38 years, Stephen pretended he could see. He pretended he was normal. He graduated, went to college, and became a professor, all while pretending he didn't have a disability.

    See when he was growing up, people viewed disabilities as a disease. They didn't know how to react or speak to those with disabilities. So he had no choice but to mask his disability.

    But once his teaching gig didn't last forever, he decided his life needed a new turn, one that could ultimately change his life for the better.

    He was getting a service dog.

    He had to go through intensive training in order to get his very own service dog.

    In Have Dog, Will Travel, Stephen outlines what was included in his training, as well as the training that the dogs have to go through, starting in their puppy days.

    He also talks about the stigma that goes along with blindness. He talks about the stress of putting your life in the hands of a dog, but once that dog becomes your lifelong partner, there is no hesitation. That dog is going to protect you with their life because that is what they are trained to do.

    Huge thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of Have Dog, Will Travel!

    Even bigger thanks to Stephen Kuusisto for writing this fantastic book that helped me better understand service dogs!

    Have Dog, Will Travel hits shelves March 13th!

    Looking for other books on service dogs?

    Try:

    The Dog Lover Unit

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