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KPBS Midday Edition

A Guide Dog Not Only Led The Way — He Changed A San Diego Man's Life

Mark Carlson and his guide dog Musket in this undated photo.
Mark Carlson
Mark Carlson and his guide dog Musket in this undated photo.
A Guide Dog Not Only Led The Way — He Changed A San Diego Man's Life
A Guide Dog Not Only Led The Way - He Changed A San Diego Man's Life GUESTS: Mark Carlson, author, "Confessions of a Guide Dog: The Blonde Leading the Blind" Lonnie Raimon, puppy trainer
Mark Carlson joined by his guide dog Musket in this undated photo.
Mark Carlson
Mark Carlson joined by his guide dog Musket in this undated photo.
Pictured in this undated photo is Lonnie Raimond's puppy Eisen who is being trained in obedience before being sent to guide dog training.
Lonnie Raimond
Pictured in this undated photo is Lonnie Raimond's puppy Eisen who is being trained in obedience before being sent to guide dog training.

A San Diego man said his guide dog not only led the way for 10 ½ — the dog also changed his life.

Mark Carlson uses a bit of humor to share the story of their special relationship in the book, “Confessions of a Guide Dog: The Blonde Leading the Blind."

Carlson, a freelance writer, lost his sight in the 1990s and was eventually paired with a golden labrador retriever named Musket. The dog changed his life, he said.

“If you are a visual person like I used to be, sight was my primary way of viewing the world,” Carlson told KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday. “When that was taken away, Musket led me through so many experiences, and everywhere we went, Musket opened doors.”

Carlson said Musket also made interactions more comfortable.

“When seeing-impaired, there’s an anonymity. But with a guide dog, you’re part of a team,” Carlson said. “Disabilities are a hard sell. People are uncomfortable being around someone with a disability, and they don't approach you.”

For that reason, he wrote the book to help people feel more comfortable about approaching someone with a disability.

"People with disabilities are people first and want to be treated the same," Carlson wrote in his book.

Musket has passed away after spending the last two years of his life in retirement with Carlson. Carlson now has a new guide dog, 4-year-old Saffron.

Lonnie Raimond, a guide dog trainer, is raising her third puppy, an 8-month-old black labrador retriever named Eisen, who goes everywhere she goes.

The high school nurse even takes him to school with her. She said sounds, traffic and crowds of people are something he needs to be exposed to before becoming a guide dog.

Raimond said after reading Carlson’s book she came to understand the special bond between handler and guide dog. She believes anyone who trains puppies should read it.

“Mark is the reason why I do this,” Raimond said. “It changes people’s lives. It’s an honor.”