A FRIEND SHARED THIS STORY WITH ME TODAY. FOR THOSE OF US WHO LOVE DOGS...IT IS EXTREMELY-EMOTIONAL--ESPECIALLY TODAY--AS WE REMEMBER THOSE WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR THIS COUNTRY.
I HOPE THIS STORY TOUCHES YOUR HEART---LIKE IT DID MINE:
"They told me the big black Lab's name was Reggie, as I
looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people were really friendly. I'd only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waved when I passed them
on the street.
But something was still missing as I attempted to settle-in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn't hurt. I'd have someone to talk to. And-- I had just seen Reggie's
advertisement on the local news. The shelter said they had received numerous calls about Reggie but they said the people who had come to see him just didn't look like "Lab People," whatever that meant. They must've thought I did.
But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me by giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand-new tennis balls, his dishes and a sealed letter from his previous
Reggie and I didn't really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was
the fact that I was trying to adjust, too. Maybe we were too-much alike. Then, I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten it. "Okay, Reggie," I said out loud. "lets see if your previous owner has any advice."
____________ _________ _________ _________
TO THE PERSON who Gets My Dog:
I can't say I'm happy you're reading this--- a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie's new owner. I'm not even happy writing it. But, let me tell you about my Lab in hopes it will help you bond with him and-- he with you.
First, he loves Tennis Balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he's part squirrel, the way he hoards them. He usually has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. So far,
he hasn’t managed that yet. Doesn't matter where you throw them, he'll chase after them, so be careful; don't do it by any roads.
Next--Commands. Reggie knows the obvious ones ---"sit,"
"stay," "come," "heel." He knows hand signals, too: He knows "ball" and "food" and "bone" and "treat" like nobody's business. His Feeding Schedule: He eats twice a day--just regular store-bought stuff and the shelter knows the brand.
He's up on his shots…But be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car. I don't know how he knows when it's time to go to the vet, but he knows. Finally, give him some
time. It's only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He's gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn't bark or complain. He just loves to be around people----and me... most
And that's why I need to share one more bit of info with you. His name's not Reggie. But, he's a smart dog and he'll get used to it and will respond to it…I have no
doubt. I just couldn't bear to give The Shelter his real name. But if someone is reading this ... well it means that his new owner should know his real name. His real name is "Tank." I named him “Tank” because that’s what I drive.
I told the shelter they couldn't make "Reggie" available for adoption until they received word from my company commander. You see, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could leave Tank with--and
it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq. I asked them to make one phone call to the shelter --- in the "event"------to tell them that Tank could now-- be put up for adoption. Luckily, my CO is a dog-guy too, and he knew where
my platoon was headed. He said he'd do it personally. And if you're reading this, then he made good on his word.
Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army
has been my family. And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family, too, and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me. If I have to give-up Tank to keep terrible people from coming to the US I am glad to have done
so. He is my example of service and love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and my comrades.
All right, that's enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off
at the shelter. Maybe I'll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth. Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss “goodnight” ---- every night--- for me.
____________ _________ _________ _______
I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure, I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. He was a Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and who-- posthumously-- earned
the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast all summer.
I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog. "Hey,
Tank," I said quietly. The dog's head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes brightened. "Come here-- sweet boy." He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted-- searching for the name
he hadn't heard in months. "Tank," I whispered. His tail swished. I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his
ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face in his scruff and---- hugged him.
"It's me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me." Tank reached up and licked my cheek. "So
what-you say we play some ball?" His ears perked again. Tank tore the ball from my hands and disappeared into the next room. When he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.