PLEASNTVILLE, N.Y. – Pleasantville native Peter Altschul returned to his old stomping grounds Wednesday evening at the Village Bookstore to sign copies of his new book, “Breaking Barriers: Working and Loving While Blind.”
Altschul, who has been blind from birth, wrote “Breaking Barriers” about his professional and personal life, and the assistance and companionship he found along the way in his Guiding Eyes for the Blind dogs.
Altschul got his first Guiding Eyes dog 35 years ago after graduating from Princeton University. While back in Westchester, he was matched with his sixth dog, Heath, who will be traveling with him to his home in Columbia, Mo.
“My life is sort of segmented by each of the dogs I had,” Altschul said, recalling all five dogs by name and breed.
While Altschul’s dogs guide him physically across streets, through sidewalks, upstairs, and more, “Breaking Barriers” also details the guidance they provided him in his professional career, and on his journey from bachelorhood to marriage.
“You form a really special relationship with them, different from what you would with a pet,” Altschul said. “These are remarkable creatures, and yet they’re still dogs. I write a lot about that in the book. The funny things these dogs do.”
Altschul informally began the book-writing process in 2005 when he would send daily email journal entries to friends, family and colleagues about his experience with his dog. He said the positive feedback encouraged him to enroll in a Ph.D. level, non-fiction writing course.
The Pleasantville High School alum said he never intended to write a book that would inspire people, but rather his main objective was simply to write a good story.
“I know some people sort of write a motivational kind of book, and this may be for a lot of people, but that wasn’t really wasn’t what I set out to do,” Altschul sad. “I really wanted to write a story that people would enjoy reading just because it’s a good story.”
All proceeds from the signing, which coincides with International Assistance Dog Week, will benefit Guiding Eyes for the Blind.