Discussion in 'VMBB General Discussion' started by rooter, Aug 16, 2009.

  1. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff*

    Jan 31, 2001
    Marty Robbins old hometown, Glendale Arizona--a su
    Don't read this unless you are prepared to get a box of Kleenex.
    > 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 without 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 of 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 a couple 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 is
    > wrong... which is why I have to go 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 it, so be careful - really don't do it by
    > any roads. I made that mistake once, and it almost cost him dearly.
    > 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:
    > "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
    > business.
    > 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, I 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 problems.
    > 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. 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 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 word.
    > Well, this letter is getting to
    > 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 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 took 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 over here. If I
    > had to give up Tank in order to do it, I am glad to have done so. He
    > was 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 in the next room.
    > And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.
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