REGGIE…A True Great Dog StoryWell Worth the Reading!!!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 waveswhen you pass them on the street.But something was still missing as I attempted to settlein to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn’t hurt.Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seenReggie’s advertisement on the local news. The sheltersaid they had received numerous calls right after,but they said the people who had come downto 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 mein giving me Reggie and his things, which consistedof a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which werebrand new tennis balls, his dishes anda 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 sheltertold me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe itwas the fact that I was trying to adjust, too.Maybe we were too much alike.I saw the sealed envelope.I had completely forgotten about that.“Okay, Reggie,” I said out loud,“let’s see if your previous owner has any advice.”_____________________To Whomever 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 openedby Reggie’s new owner. I’m not even happy writing it.He knew something was different.So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopesthat 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 always has two in his mouth, and he tries to geta third in there. Hasn’t done it yet. Doesn’t matter whereyou throw them, he’ll bound after them, so be careful.Don’t do it by any roads.Next, commands. Reggie knows theobvious ones – “sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel.”He knows hand signals, too: He knows “ball”and “food” and “bone” and “treat” like nobody’s business.Feeding schedule: twice a day, regularstore-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.He’s up on his shots. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet.Good luck getting him in the car. I don’t know how heknows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he knows.Finally, give him some time. It’s only been Reggie andme 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 barkor complain. He just loves to be around people,and me most especially.And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you …His name’s not Reggie. He’s a smart dog, he’ll get used to itand will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn’tbear to give them 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.” Because, that is what I drive.I told the shelter that they couldn’t make “Reggie” availablefor adoption until they received word from my company commander.You see, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could’veleft Tank with … and it was my only real request of the Armyupon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call to the shelter …in the “event” … to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption.Luckily, my CO is a dog-guy, too, and he knew where my platoonwas 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 longas the Army has been my family. And now I hope and pray thatyou make him part of your family, too, and that he will adjustand come to love you the same way he loved me.If I have to give up Tank to keep those terrible people from comingto the US I am glad to have done so. He is my example of service andof 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 letteroff at the shelter. Maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally gotthat third tennis ball in his mouth.Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, andgive 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 fewmonths ago and posthumously earning the Silver Starwhen he gave his life to save three buddies.Flags had been at half-mast all summer.I leaned forward in my chair and rested myelbows on my knees, staring at the dog.“Hey, Tank,” I said quietly.The dog’s head whipped up, his earscocked 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 namehe 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 relaxedas a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I strokedhis ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face intohis 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.If you can read this without getting a lump in yourthroat or a tear in your eye, you just ain’t right.===“The true soldier fights not because he hateswhat is in front of him,but because he loves what is behind him.”G. K. Chesterton‘In God We Trust’Will be on every e-mailI send out from now onbecause, I don’t want tolose our right to say it…!!!***
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