‘Thunder dog’

Michael Hingson will tell the story of a blind man, 9/11 and a guide dog named Roselle

-Submitted photo
Author and speaker Michael Hingson holds up a copy of his book "Thunder Dog," which is the story of his escape from the Twin Towers on 9/11, in this image from his Facebook page. His guide dog, Roselle, safely got him out of the building before the structure collapsed.

Michael Hingson was among the many who were inside the Twin Towers in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, when Islamic terrorists flew hijacked planes into the buildings.

He was also among those fortunate enough to have escaped the towers before their eventual collapse.

Blind since birth, Hingson didn’t get to safety by himself.

Roselle, his guide dog, got him there.

Hingson will sharing his story at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Decker Auditorium at Iowa Central Community College as part of a fundraiser for the Humane Society of Northcentral Iowa Almost Home Animal Shelter.

Rhonda Fitchett, treasurer of the Almost Home board, talked a bit about Hingson’s story.

“He was on the 78th floor when the planes hit,” she said. “He was at work with his dog, Roselle. He attributed his getting out of there to his trust in her.”

The dog remained panic-free.

“He said Roselle is still calm, we have time to get out.”

As Hingson was led down the stairs by Roselle, New York firefighters were going up the stairs. None would return.

“As they’re going down the firemen are going up,” she said. “Roselle gave one of them a little lick. It was probably the last unconditional love he got.”

Once out of the building, Hingson still needed to get away from the structure.

“She did everything she was supposed to do,” she said. “She got him to the subway.”

Hingson’s talk is called Labrador Lessons.

He will not only tell the story of his escape and Roselle’s role in it, but also talk about the bond and level of trust between them.

Hingson is also a published author. His book is called “Thunder Dog: The true story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust at Ground Zero.”

“It’s more about the humans and their bond with their dogs,” she said.

Fitchett also had some help in bringing Hingson to Fort Dodge from a source one might not expect.

“The Fort Dodge Correctional Facility Lifers Group donated $1,000 to bring him here,” she said.

Other groups, including the Webster County Bar Association, Smeltzer Foundation, KHI Solutions, AXA Advisors, Eastlawn Animal Hospital, Kingsgate Insurance, Fort Dodge Police Association, Availa Bank and Shimkat Motor Co., helped fund his visit as well.

In addition to his appearance at Decker Auditorium, Hingson will also be speaking at the Brown Bag Briefing at the Fort Dodge Public Library at noon Tuesday.

While that event is free, Fitchett said representatives from Almost Home will be on hand and will gladly accept donations.

In addition to monetary donations, Fitchett said a number of other items are appreciated too.

“We’re always in need of cat litter, cat food, bleach, cleaning supplies and paper towels,” she said. “Plus toys for the pets.”

They are also grateful for the local support given to them by Nestle Purina PetCare.

“Purina helps supply us with pet food and treats,” she said.

During Hingson’s appearance at Decker Auditorium, the audience won’t be able to meet Roselle. She’s been gone since 2011.

“He has a new dog named Africa,” Fitchett said. “He and Africa travel together. People will have the opportunity to meet the new dog as well.”

Admission to the event is $10 at the door. Iowa Central students are admitted free with student ID.