Sometimes pet ownership can be tough and, in some cases, an owner and his pet don’t quite gel at all, as was the case with Reggie and his owner. The man and his newly adopted dog, Reggie, just couldn’t sync up, so the owner planned to return the animal to the shelter. While looking for the shelter’s phone number to make the call, however, he came across a letter from Reggie’s previous owner and it made him change his mind entirely.
The new owner explained the reason for wanting to return the dog, noting on a message board: “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)… 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 letter, from Reggie’s previous owner, Army Solider Paul Mallory, explained that he had to give his dog up when he went to serve in Iraq. He wanted to share some of his experiences about the dog with whoever owned him next. The contents of the letter were completely eye opening to Reggie’s new owner. It began with an introduction:
“To Whoever Gets My Dog,
Well, 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. 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 for 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.”
The letter went on to explain the dog’s love of tennis balls, saying, “He usually always has two in his mouth and he tries to get a third one in there. Hasn’t done it, yet.” The owner also explained to be careful and not throw the dog a ball near roads.
He continued, explaining the commands the dog knows and his feeding schedule, and his hatred for the vet. The soldier advised: “give him some time,” explaining that it had always just been the dog and himself and that he believed “this transition is going to be hard with him going to live with someone else. And, that’s why I need to share one more thing with you.”
The soldier revealed that he told the shelter the dog’s name was Reggie, noting, “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 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 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.”
He further explained that the shelter couldn’t make the dog available for adoption until his commander gave the okay, noting “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.”
He concluded the letter by writing: “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 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 over here. 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 love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades… Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home and give him an extra kiss goodnight – every night – from me.”