Thunder Dog Interview

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Interview with Michael Hingson, Author of “Thunder Dog”

December 2010

Malia: Hello this is Malia McKinney and I’m here with Michael Hingson, international public speaker and author.  Congratulations on your upcoming book, “Thunder Dog, a Blind Man, His Guide Dog and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero.”  I understand it’s due out next summer to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Michael: First of all Malia, thank you very much for meeting with me. Yes, the book is due to be out late next summer.  Amazon says it will be out August 2nd, and our goal is to have it for the National Federation of the Blind Convention in Orlando. We are all very excited about the book and the opportunities it brings.

Malia: So Michael, 10 years later, what are the biggest changes that you see that have been ushered into this country by 9/11?

Michael: I think the biggest change is that people are allowing fear into their lives much more and not taking control of their lives. Also, the fact that we are so divided when there isn’t a need to be.  On the other hand, I see great opportunity for growth.  We’ve made such wonderful strides as challenges become more visible and we work together to create solutions to meet those challenges.

Malia: Michael it seems that there are factions in this country that would like to use the memory of the events of 9/11 to keep people polarized.  How is your message different?

Michael: I agree that there are people who have been playing on fear.  We’ve seen it in the recent political elections and in the media. What we aren’t hearing often enough is talk about how strong our unity was after 9/11. We could still have that unity today if we worked at it. I think that trust is still under attack in this country. It is up to us to reassert our leadership as individuals, first in our own lives and then in the form of collective leadership, getting those who have been tasked with serving us to work together instead of wrangling.

One of the lessons from 9/11 that I share is not to focus on the things that I can’t control but to focus on the things that I can. Despite the things we do not have direct control over,  there are many situations we can influence. Trust and teamwork are two things we can work together to achieve. We should be demanding that our politicians, our leaders, work together, regardless of party affiliation. We should be demanding unity and collaboration. If we don’t do that now we’re going to be in worse trouble later.

Malia: So Michael, your book contains lessons that can help unify, heal and empower. Can you give us a little bit more detail about that?

Michael: Besides not worrying about what we can’t control, at the end of the day, there’s nothing better then having a good dog bone and time to play, relax and move on. Roselle and every guide dog I’ve ever had does that very well. Another is that teamwork works. The fact is that on 9/11, my guide dog and I working together helping other people get out, as well as allowing other people to help us. Team work is critical for our very survival. Trust is the second critical factor. I trust my dog every day to do her job and she trusts me to do mine. It doesn’t get any better than this simple, strong message.

Malia: I can see now how trust and teamwork apply to nearly every aspect of life, to enrich it.  The title of the book, “Thunder Dogs” certainly arouses imagination. Tell us about the real life hero in this story.

Michael: The real hero is Roselle, of course. Roselle was my guide dog at the time, my fifth guide dog. The title, “Thunder Dog,” came from the fact that she’s afraid of thunder. On the morning of 9/11 we had a thunderstorm pass over our house about 12:30 a.m., so I had to go down into my basement with her and give her some space away from the lighting and the thunder as much as I could. So I turned up my stereo, I did some work. Even still, she could hear the thunder and was just shaking and quivering under my desk. 5 hours later we woke to go into my office in the World Trade Center.  Although we did not hear it at 8:45 and then later at 9:04, as the buildings collapsed it was thunder all around us. So “Thunder Dog” seemed like a naturally appropriate title and I think it’s being well received.

Malia: That’s very poignant to think this dog was afraid of thunder and yet under fire, in life-threatening conditions, she was brave, she did her job and she stayed calm. That’s truly something that is worth pondering.

Michael: And a great lesson: when the chips are down and when people need to work together we do. We should take that into our lives all the time and not wait for the chips to be down; but we can work together. Roselle and I did even in the most adversarial circumstances and the most horrific example possible we worked together and we survived.

Malia: That’s really, really touching. This book promises to inspire virtually everyone and make a perfect gift of encouragement. I understand it can be pre-ordered now on Amazon. How does pre-ordering work?

Michael: It can be pre-ordered my going to and searching on the words Thunder Dog or visit my website and you will be presented with a link to go straight into the Amazon ordering page. Again that’s The way it works is you order the book, it’s $22.95 for the hard cover copy and when the book is out and your book is ready to be shipped you’ll receive confirmation and your credit card will be charged at that time and the book will be sent.

Malia: So by pre-ordering the book now on Amazon we can actually help make it a best seller and spread awareness about this important message of hope in the process.

Michael: Right

Malia: That sounds like a pretty simple way that we can make a difference and again how we find it on Amazon.

Michael: Go to or and at Amazon search for the word Thunder Dog and you’ll be taken to the place where the book is. The reason were asking people to pre-order it is that the more visibility it receives and the more orders it gets now the more interest is demonstrated to the major booksellers and to the publisher and the more marketing we can get. I think this is a book that virtually anyone will want to read and can read. Everywhere I speak I’ve been asked, “When are you going to write a book, book”. Literally I think I’ve had hundreds of thousands of people ask me that question. Well were finally able to get the book done. I’m really excited about the fact that I am and the lady who is working with me Suzy Flory are able to finally bring this to fruition and bring this out for people to actually be able to read. So I hope that they will pre-order it and I hope people will be excited about it as much as we are and make the best seller that we mentioned.

Malia: You know I have to say that although I’ve heard the story and you know obviously we think we know about 9/11 having lived through the collective experience, the idea about teamwork and overcoming our fears and also having that trust restored in one another and in our nation, that is a timeless message and I think that the legacy of that, the positive legacy of that will touch thousands of people and I’m very, very privileged to know you and to be part of this project. I just encourage everybody to get a copy of this book and also to be able to share it with the people that they love.

Michael: Well thank you. And I would say this is just not a book about 9/11. This is a book about life, about my life. It tells the story of growing up. I tells a lot of the lessons I learned about blindness, like the handicap isn’t blindness the handicap is our attitude, our misconceptions. And that’s true in some many different things in our lives. The lessons about teamwork, working together. The lessons of overcoming adversity not just on 9/11 but in so many other ways. So we’re going to talk about a lot of things in the book and I think that people will be able to relate to it and learn a lot from it that I hope they’ll be able to use and take to heart.

Malia: Thank you Michael. I can’t wait to get a copy of“Thunder Dog” and hope to get your autograph when it comes out.

Michael: I absolutely will autograph your copy and I’m always willing to autograph any copies. So we’re glad to do that. So again and while there you can sign up for our newsletter or you can go to and actually order the book my searching the words Thunder Dog. So thank you very much.

Malia: Alright thank you Michael.

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  • Claudine Weed

    I am a Store Manager for Barnes & Noble and happened to catch a glimpse of your book as it came in and was about to be put out on the shelf. I immediately found it a must read as a dog lover and especially a service dog lover that I had to drop what I was reading to check it out. I stayed up late and read the entire book that night. I absolutely loved it and found it very inspiring. I have it proudly displayed at my customer service counter right now in my store as my hand sell book and daily talk about how awesome it is with our customers. I found out today that Roselle was in the running for a Hero Dog Award and have asked all my employees and face book friends to vote for her. Thank you for sharing your story. Both you and Roselle are an inspiration.

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