Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Iddee, Nov 17, 2011.

  1. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    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 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 waves when you pass
    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. Give me someone to talk to. And I
    had just seen Reggie's advertisement on the local news. The shelter said
    they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who
    had come down 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 in 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 owner. See, 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.

    For some reason, his stuff (except for the tennis balls --- he wouldn't go
    anywhere with out two stuffed in his mouth) got tossed in with all of my
    other unpacked boxes. I guess I didn't really think he'd need all his old
    stuff, that I'd get him new things once he settled in. But it became pretty
    clear pretty soon that he wasn't going to.

    I tried the normal commands the shelter told me he knew, ones like "sit" and
    "stay"and "come" and "heel," and he'd follow them - when he felt like it. He
    never really seemed to listen when I called his name --- sure, he'd look in
    my direction after the fourth or fifth time I said it, but then he'd just go
    back to doing whatever. When I'd ask again, you could almost see him sigh
    and then grudgingly obey.

    This just wasn't going to work. He chewed up a couple of shoes and some
    unpacked boxes. I was a little too stern with him and he resented it, I
    could tell. The friction got so bad that I couldn't wait for the two weeks
    to be up, and when it was, I was in full-on search mode for my cell phone
    amid all of my unpacked stuff. I remembered leaving it on the stack of boxes
    for the guest room, but I also mumbled, rather cynically, that the "damn dog
    probably hid it on me."

    Finally, I found it, but before I could punch up the shelter's number, I
    also found his pad and other toys from the shelter. I tossed the pad in
    Reggie's direction and he snuffed it and wagged, some of the most enthusiasm
    I'd seen since bringing him home. But then I called, "Hey, Reggie, you like
    that? Come here and I'll give you a treat." Instead, he sort of glanced in
    my direction maybe "glared" is more accurate and then gave a discontented
    sigh and flopped down ... With his back to me.

    Well, that's not going to do it either, I thought. And I punched the shelter
    phone number.

    But I hung up when I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten
    about that, too. "Okay, Reggie, I said out loud, "let's see if your
    previous owner has any advice."

    To Whoever Gets My Dog:
    Well, I can't say that 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. If you're reading this, it means I just got back from my last
    car ride with my Lab after dropping him off at the shelter. He knew
    something was different. I have packed up his pad and toys before and set
    them by the back door before a
    Trip, but this time... it's like he knew something was wrong. And something
    was wrong...which is why I have to try to make it right.

    So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that 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 hordes them. He usually always has two in his
    mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn't done it yet.
    Doesn't matter where you throw them, he'll bound after them, so be careful.
    Don't do it by any roads. I made that mistake once, and it almost cost him

    Next, commands.
    Maybe the shelter staff already told you, but I'll go over them again:
    Reggie knows the obvious ones ---"sit," "stay," "come," "heel."
    He knows hand signals, too:"back" to turn around and go back when you put
    your hand straight up; and "over" if you put your hand out right or left.
    "Shake" for shaking water off, and "paw" for a high-five. He does "down"
    when he feels like lying down --- I bet you could work on that with him some
    more. He knows"ball" and "food" and "bone" and "treat" like nobody's

    I trained Reggie with small food treats. Nothing opens his ears like little
    pieces of hot dog.

    Feeding schedule: twice a day, once about seven in the morning, and again at
    six in the evening. Regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.

    He's up on his shots. Call the clinic on 9th Street and update his info
    with yours; they'll make sure to send you reminders for when he's due. 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.
    I've never been married, so 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 especially.

    Which means that this transition is going to be hard, with him going to live
    with someone new.

    And that's why I need to share one more bit of info with you....

    His name's not Reggie.

    I don't know what made me do it, but when I dropped him off at the shelter,
    told them his name was Reggie.
    He's a smart dog, he'll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I
    have no doubt. But I just couldn't bear to give them his real name. For me
    to do that, it seemed so final, that handing him over to the shelter was as
    good as me admitting that I'd never see him again. And if I end up coming
    back, getting him, and tearing up this letter, it means everything's fine.
    But if someone else is reading it, well ... well it means that his new owner
    should know his real name. It'll help you bond with him. Who knows, maybe
    you'll even notice a change in his demeanor if he's been giving you

    His real name is "Tank.

    Because, that is what I drive.

    Again, if you're reading this and you're from the area, maybe my name has
    been on the news. I told the shelter that 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've left Tank with, and it was my only real request of the Army upon my
    deployment to Iraq , that they make one phone call the shelter ... in the
    "event"... to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption. Luckily, my
    colonel 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

    Well, this letter is getting downright depressing, even though, frankly, I'm
    just writing it for my dog. I couldn't imagine if I was writing it for a
    wife and kids and family ... but still, 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.

    That unconditional love from a dog is what I take with me to Iraq as an
    inspiration to do something selfless, to protect innocent people from those
    who would do terrible things ... and to keep those terrible people from
    coming to the U.S. If I have to give up Tank in order to do it, I am glad
    to have done so. He is my example of service and of love. I hope I honored
    him by my service to my country and comrades.

    All right, that's enough.

    I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. I
    don't think I'll say another good-bye to Tank, though. I cried too much the
    first time. 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 from me.

    Thank you, Paul Mallory

    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.Local
    kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning 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 bright.

    "C'mere 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 into 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 whatdaya say we play some ball? His ears
    perked again. Yeah Ball? You like that Ball? Tank tore from my hands and
    disappeared into the next room.

    And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.
  2. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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    I hate you Iddee:

    You are the first person who has been able to make tears run down my face in a good many years.

    I didn't really mean the part about hating, but as I read this, with my 9 year old beagle-mix, Rowdy, curled up on the couch next to me, I couldn't help myself.

    Years ago, at a friends house I read a hand-made cross stitch thing that had been given to him by an old friend of his , it read "You give them the time you can, the food you can, and the love you can. In return-they give you their all."

    Thanks Iddee.

  3. bamabww

    bamabww Active Member

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    Yeah, that's the best dog story I've ever read.