TWO SEEING EYE DOGS
TAKE MANHATTAN
                             ... a love story

by Lloyd Burlingame


The Buzz




What critics and readers are saying about Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan:

Burlingame (A Symphonic Crazy-Quilt of Designs for Stages and Screens, 1997) shares how two Seeing Eye dogs returned mobility to his life when he became legally blind. After a frightening experience navigating busy city streets armed with nothing but a white cane, the author contacted The Seeing Eye in Morristown, N.J. There, he met Hickory, his first canine companion. Hickory and Burlingame share numerous everyday adventures—making friends, dining out and attending the opera—which continue until Hickory’s retirement. Afterward, Kemp takes over. While many of the events are fairly ordinary, the memoir is anything but dull. Part of the intrigue comes from understanding how day-to-day life unfolds for the visually impaired and their helper dogs. Readers also get to learn about the process dogs go through to qualify as Seeing Eye companions. What makes these experiences even more fascinating is that they are told from the perspective of the two dogs. Burlingame plays “scribe” to Kemp and Hickory, who relay their experiences as only dogs can. While the book doesn’t hide the difficulties that result from loss of sight, it maintains an overall humorous, hopeful tone, thanks to the boundless cheerfulness of its canine narrators. They are distinctly canine in their thoughts and actions, often expressing a lack of understanding for certain human interests, like opera, and woefully lamenting the standard concerns that come with being a dog, like suffering through restricted diets that prohibit the consumption of miscellaneous “treats” littering the sidewalk. Both dogs also have their own distinct voices, lending to their believability as narrators. Hickory, having been socialized with a family whose father taught literature, seems a little more cultured, occasionally displaying knowledge of classic literary characters. Kemp, on the other hand, is more of a common dog with a youthful, inexperienced tone, which he demonstrates through a lack of understanding about the meaning of certain terms, like “puppy proof.”

Hickory and Kemp continue their outstanding work as guide companions, smoothly guiding readers through the life and times of Seeing Eye dogs and their partners. 

KIRKUS REVIEW

Dog lovers will enjoy this lively book about two seeing eye dogs assigned, successively, to a retired Manhattan professor. Any reader curious about how a blind person partners with their canine companion will also appreciate this privileged peek. But highly imaginative readers, who love the idea of a memoir “written” by animals, will most delight in this romp through the ruminations of two working dogs.


Lloyd Burlingame lost his sight at the pinnacle of a successful career as a designer for stage and opera, as well as the long-time head of New York University’s Department of Design. He didn’t consider a guide dog until an incident with a cruel stranger had him doubting his white cane. He soon called The Seeing Eye, an organization headquartered across the river in New Jersey. Fourteen years, two dogs, and countless insights later, he set down some of his experiences in his first book, with everything relayed through the eyes and minds of his Labradors. This conceit takes a bit of getting used to, but delivers a rich, often comical perspective, such as when the pair encounters an elevator for the first time, or an escalator, subway, theater, or fitness gym.


The first half of the book is narrated by Hickory, who is two years old when partnered with Burlingame, after a one-month trial at The Seeing Eye’s suburban campus. These early sections, which provide insight into the initial training period for both dog and human, are some of the best parts of the book. Following chapters, which chronicle the pair’s six years together in Manhattan—with its accompanying traffic, noise, distractions, and rich cultural life—also shine. Together, Hickory and the “Old Prof” attend classical music and opera performances in New York’s famed venues, manage storms and city construction, mark birthdays, overcome trivial and major problems, and share the tedium and joy of everyday life. They grow, inevitably, to love and depend on one another in the most symbiotically charged way. As a prose writer with an eye for detail and nuance, Hickory knows how to move a story along. He strikes a pleasing balance between keen intellectual observer and kind friend, and he adds just the right amount of carefree playfulness.


When retirement looms for Hickory, and Burlingame is matched with Kemp, the book swerves a bit like a puppy who can’t decide which of his toys is the most fun to chew. The second half of Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan is a series of admittedly imaginative emails between the two dogs, between Kemp and the couple who adopted Hickory in retirement, and between Hickory and the Old Prof. But since Kemp’s voice is fine on its own, the contrived epistolary construction creates a bit of a distraction.


On balance, other than being a bit on the long side, there are few bones to pick in this touching tale.

Lisa Romeo, Clarion Review


Have you ever wondered about how a seeing-eye guide dog is chosen or trained or assigned to a biped? Wonder no more! Get yourself a copy of this entirely delightful book and become an expert on the topic. With the skillfully managed words of both Hickory and Kemp, Golden Labrador Retrievers, you’ll wonder no more. And have a blast in the process!

I think Hickory, especially, must be a cousin to Chet (of Chet and Bernie mystery novel fame), as he has the same sort of insouciant manner about him. He especially knows his good points and his bad ones. The most notable of these is food. They both also love music, although Hickory is more fond of opera than Chet. And while Chet is a California lad, Hickory is strictly a big-city boy — Manhattan!

It’s hard to imagine a worse fate for an award-winning designer than to lose his sight, but after a short time, Lloyd Burlingame latched on to the new opportunities available to him. He was able to maintain his position in the Design Department at the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts in New York City. Originally, he thought that when he retired, he’d spend half a year in New York, and half in Vienna, Austria. 9-11 made that dream less accessible due to the restrictions and increased difficulties in flying.

Again undaunted, he continued his life in the Big City, and when—after eight years of service—Hickory reached retirement age, they found a fabulous horse farm for the boy – in Vienna, Virginia. Burlingame went back to The Seeing Eye in New Jersey and this time was paired with Kemp, a younger, slightly more
bumptious boy than Hickory ever thought of being. Their personalities are wonderfully rendered in this book, which is mainly ‘journal notes’ or ‘e-mail notes’ between the two dogs, with an occasional insertion from their humans, who serve as transcribers for the doggy duo.

Kemp did get to visit Austria, but the plan to live there half of the year had to be scrapped in favor of full-time residence in New York. There were occasional forays to the Washington DC area, to visit Hickory and his new family. Through the eyes of the dogs, one learns of the painstaking efforts involved in pairing the right dog to the right human—not so easy as you might think. Plus the subsequent training of each. Generally, dogs are close to their second birthday before they’re deemed to be mature enough for the job.

As an opera reviewer, I must also commend Kemp on his review of Pooch-ini’s Il Trittico. It’s a better review than many I’ve encountered.

The book is subtitled ‘a love story’ and it is, sort of. It’s actually a love story about the man and his two dogs, sequentially, and theirs for him, and that’s just how you’ll feel when you read the final page – in love with the dogs and the book! You’ll probably want to keep it handy on your own bookshelf for those days when you need a dash of sunshine – and perhaps a chuckle or two.

Kelly Ferjutz, City Book Review

Lloyd Burlingame, a prominent Broadway designer, celebrates his faithful and intrepid Seeing Eye Dogs in a new book release, Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan! A Love Story. 

An extraordinary book about the exploits of these canine miracle workers, Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan takes readers along for the ride as these loyal Labradors triumph over the challenges of a huge city like New York— crowded sidewalks, traffic, taxis, street vendors, and noises. In addition, Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan details those unmistakably “only in New York” moments . . . In a laugh-out-loud funny and wildly creative narrative, Hickory and Kemp recount what it was really like to find themselves thrust into the high-flying New York arts scene.

Humorous and heartwarming, inspiring and enlightening . . . Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan also pays tribute to the trainers, instructors, and fine humans who work with Seeing Eye Dogs, and enlightens readers on how guide dogs are trained.

Much more than a book that simply celebrates the love of dogs, Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan honors the extraordinary canine heroes who keep their owners safe in a daunting urban environment such as New York. Told in a spirit that honors these incredible canine citizens, Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan sheds light on these guide dogs, described appropriately as the “canine equivalents of the Navy Seals.”

 

A beautiful and uplifting story about the human-animal bond, hope, and determination, Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan is a splendid and sensational tale about life, love, and two loyal Labrador heroes. Delivered with joie de vivre, humor, and wit, Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan is a marvelous story exceptionally well told.

 

New Book Journal

Lloyd Burlingame, a prominent Broadway designer, celebrates his faithful and intrepid Seeing Eye Dogs in a new book release, Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan! A Love Story. Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan (ISBN: 978-1-477446-02-7, Trade Paper, 234 pages, $14.95) will be available wherever books are sold in August 2012.


The recipient of the prestigious Robert L.B. Tobin Award for sustained excellence in theatrical design,Lloyd Burlingame served as designer for more than 40 Broadway shows and worked extensively off-Broadway, in opera and regional theatre. In 1980, with nearly no warning, Burlingame was declared legally blind—a horrible catastrophe to befall a visual artist. Displaying an incredible fortitude and uncanny determination, Burlingame continued his work in design, serving as head of the Department of Design for New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts from 1971 until 1997.


Burlingame’s world was transformed from what he called “life with a long white cane, from a grainy black and white silent film, into a wide-screen, vivid Technicolor, 3-D spectacular with quadrophonic sound” with the arrival of a regal and handsome yellow Labrador Retriever, Hickory, and his successor Kemp, the guide dogs who changed Burlingame’s life.

Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan is the story of the adventures—and misadventures—of one blind New Yorker and his two fearless guide dogs. A charming, heart-warming, and sensational story, Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan shares a dog’s eye view of the city that never sleeps.


An extraordinary book about the exploits of these canine miracle workers, Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan takes readers along for the ride as these loyal Labradors triumph over the challenges of a huge city like New York— crowded sidewalks, traffic, taxis, street vendors, and noises. In addition, Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan details those unmistakably “only in New York” moments: an impromptu, and unscheduled,Carnegie Hall duet between Hickory and the world-famous diva Renee Fleming; an all-too-memorable visit to the Russian Tea Room; strolls along the Hudson River; Greenwich Village forays; navigating Times Square; and other big adventures in the Big Apple. In a laugh-out-loud funny and wildly creative narrative, Hickory and Kemp recount what it was really like to find themselves thrust into the high flying New York arts scene.


Humorous and heartwarming, inspiring and enlightening, Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan, at its heart, is a love story about the incredible dogs who lavish the gifts of independence, freedom, dignity, and safety on their human partners. Moreover, Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan also pays tribute to the trainers, instructors, and fine humans who work with Seeing Eye Dogs, and enlightens readers on how guide dogs are trained.

Much more than a book that simply celebrates the love of dogs, Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan honors the extraordinary canine heroes who keep their owners safe in a daunting urban environment such as New York. Told in a spirit that honors these incredible canine citizens, Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan sheds light on these guide dogs, described appropriately as the “canine equivalents of the Navy Seals.”


A beautiful and uplifting story about the human-animal bond, hope, and determination, Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan is a splendid and sensational tale about life, love, and two loyal Labrador heroes. Delivered with joie de vivre, humor, and wit, Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan is a marvelous story exceptionally well told.


A native of Washington, D.C.,Lloyd Burlingame has lived in Manhattan for more than 50 years. Burlingame is currently at work on his memoir, Sets, Lights and Lunacy: A Stage Designer’s Adventures on Broadway and in Opera. 

Broadway World

Everyone knows that man’s best friend is a dog. But a Seeing Eye dog is more than a friend to a blind person who totally relies on him for sight – he is a partner, companion and an entity to that person. In Lloyd Burlingame’s Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan! … A Love Story, this bond between man and canine is beautifully told.

This two hundred and twenty three page softbound book has a picture of two Labrador dogs below bright New York lights on the front cover. The back cover has four paragraphs about the book with five reviews. Inside there is an introduction about the author’s true life story involving guide dogs, along with acknowledgements and author information. Black and white photographs usually begin each chapter of the actual dogs and author. There were no typographical or grammatical errors but a few capitalization and punctuation issues were noted. Although there were a few minor profanities, the book would be acceptable for reading by middle age children through adult ages.

Instead of a human author telling his life story about his debilitating handicap and how he overcomes it by using Seeing Eye dogs for guidance, this book is written by the two dogs who worked for the same Partner/Scribe who translated their writings and correspondence. Whether memoirs of the older dog’s rules and reprimands or learning experiences given to the newcomer or the young, playful trainee’s questions or fears, both dogs write from their own, history and education involving their Partner/Maestro/Magoo.

The book begins when Partner Lloyd starts to go blind and no longer trusts his white cane to get him across the streets of busy Manhattan. After an unfortunate situation with one dog, Lloyd has fears establishing a long-term relationship with Hickory, a precocious, wanting-to-please-his-new-master mongrel. Hickory tells of his terror of water, disdain of the vet, panic of loud noises at the opera and his constant concern of not getting enough to eat.

But all Seeing Eye dogs retire after they get up in years and Lloyd sadly has to send Hickory to a new home, free of harness, constant commands and chores. Here Hickory finds his new owner “Himself” as a scribe to email Lloyd his daily activities while his old owner locates a guide replacement. New dog, Kemp, is up for the challenge of being like his predecessor but loves water, does not care for the two apartment felines either and also has to get used to the sounds of the theater, even travelling internationally. The relationship between both dogs and their old and new owners is delightful, comical and endearing.

The charm of this book is the perfect interaction between dog and human correspondence and how it is spot on to what one would think being in an animal’s mind. One learns about the ins and outs of not only the arduous training of a Seeing Eye dog but the frustrations and obstructions of the blind and how both deal with day to day living by helping each other.
Conni Crisalli, Bookpleasures.com
Most of us have seen Seeing Eye dogs at work, gently guiding their charges around cities and towns. We marvel at the wonderful symbiosis of dog leading human.

Ever wonder how it might seem from the dog's point of view? If so, obtain a copy of Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan and discover for yourself. Lloyd Burlingame has written a delightful book – or should I say his two dogs, Hickory and Kemp, have written a delightful book?

Hickory starts the tale with his training and eventual meeting with the 'old Prof' as Hickory called his master. The two immediately became a team as Hickory was able to win Lloyd's trust. A mention of the operas that Hickory slept through and the regard most of the population of New York City held for him make a story worth telling. The only sour note is when a small restaurant forbade Hickory from entering even though the law clearly states that Seeing Eye dogs are permitted to join their masters at a meal.

I never thought about what would happen to a dog should it become too old to carry out its duties. They are retired! In Hickory's case, to a suburb with open space and two other smaller dogs. His emails to Lloyd and Hickory's successor Kemp could easily be just what whisks through a dog's mind. Kemp made a more than satisfactory successor to Hickory. Rigorous training had to be repeated on the old Prof's part while Kemp helped to create the bond that would keep Lloyd independent.

It's a heartwarming story that is humorous in many parts as well as uplifting as we recognize that the human spirit, helped at times by canine spirit, can accomplish almost anything.
Mary Ann Smyth, Bookloons

"Lloyd Burlingame's Two Seeing Eye Dogs is delicious, as well as moving and courageous and heartbreaking and inspirational. Buy it and give it to your friends and read it to your dog(s)!" 

Larry Kramer, prize-winning Broadway playwright 

“I personally think everyone should own a dog. The world would be a better place. I doubt there would be wars, and that's just for openers. Lloyd Burlingame and Kemp have an important story to tell -- one all of us can learn from.” 

Terrence McNally, Tony Award-winnging author

"Burlingame's tale of sight loss that had all the makings of a ‘bad’ end instead has become a love story…one of joyous celebration. The man who lived by his eyes now lives by the love of his dog. Six Legs/Two Eyes! He really means it when he says 'I’ve never been happier in my life.' A lesson for us all." 

Ralph Pine, Patricia Mackay, publishers 

“Two Seeing Eye Dogs is utterly charming, funny, and touching -- hence, entirely successful. Congratulations!” 

Stuart Vaughan, director and co-founder of the New York Shakespeare Festival

"Two Seeing Eye Dogs TakeManhattan" has pitch-perfect humor and is crisply well-written.  It doesn't talk down to the reader.  It's intelligent and at the same time, made me laugh out loud at many moments.  Also, I love that it makes Seeing Eye dogs sound like dogs.  We see that they manage to be heroic and amazing but at the same time just as goofy and happy as other dogs.  I also love that it gives the reader an inside look at The Seeing Eye, which to most people is just a total mystery.  And I found it incredibly educational in terms of blindness in general, and in terms of the world of dog guides in particular."

Teresa Davenport, former Senior Communications Director, TheSeeing Eye