LOVE IN THE LEAD: The Fifty-Year Miracle of the Seeing Eye Dog by Peter Brock Putnam

LOVE IN THE LEAD: The Fifty-Year Miracle of the Seeing Eye Dog

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Putnam's personal account of overcoming blindness with the help of a seeing eye dog (Cast off the Darkness, 1957) was deeply rooted in bitter experience, but this uplifting saga of the founding and growth of the Seeing Eye organization is, admittedly, ""less a history than a paean."" When a Philadelphia Mainline philanthropist (Dorothy Eustis) joined forces with a snuff chewing ex-cowboy (Jack Humphrey) and a blind Jewish boy from Nashville (Morris Frank) to create the Seeing Eye, guide dogs were new to America, they were barred from public facilities, and schools for the blind were still called ""asylums."" The founders had to develop techniques to teach two-way communication between trainers, instructors, dogs, and blind people. A dog must know not only how to lead, Putnam points out, he must know when to disobey his master and the master ""must leave the knowing to his dog and have the faith to trust its judgment."" Helped along the way by Alexander Woollcott and Booth Tarkington, the school that worked ""with the blind"" and not ""for the blind"" became so rich and successful that it began to lose its sense of purpose: it put ""too much money into grants and not enough into dogs."" Just as the organization suffered from surfeit, so too this book finally suffers from too many heart-warming man-and-dog tales. The fine insights and poignant moments are buried beneath the avalanche of testimonials.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1979
Publisher: Dutton