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Breaking Barriers: Working and Loving while Blind

by Peter Altschul

For some unknown reason, Peter Altschul was born totally blind. He grew up in a working-class town where, with the help of his persistent mother, he broke through barrier after barrier, determined to live a full life. After attending a private school that initially turned him away--simply because he was blind--Peter details how he discovered his gift for music, eventually playing percussion in the orchestra, marching band, and jazz ensemble at Princeton University. But it was only after Peter graduated from college that it became evident he would need a guide dog. Heidi, a Weimaraner with a large repertoire of barks, howls, and grunts, would assist Peter for the next eight years through the halls of New England Conservatory, where he eventually obtained a master's degree in music composition. Peter relays how he blazed a unique professional trail while simultaneously overcoming obstacles; managed his uneasy relationship with music; and embraced his unexpected entrance into an unfamiliar and romantic world. He also provides an unforgettable glimpse into the wonderful ways his five guide dogs supported him on his journey from urban bachelorhood to the light of love. Breaking Barriers shares a compelling account of one man's journey through life as he and each of his specially trained dogs learned to trust each other, ultimately melding into a smooth working team that tackled the world-together.

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