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 it
and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn’t bear 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” 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 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 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 those terrible people from coming to the US I am glad to have done so.
He is my example of service and of love. I hope I honoured 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.
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.
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.
If you can read this without getting a lump in your
throat or a tear in your eye, you just ain’t right.
“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in
front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”