Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reggie, the Adopted Lab

This heartwarming story, written by an unknown author, is a beautiful reminder of the sacrifice made by our soldiers. Grab a tissue... you'll need it!

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 cellphone 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 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 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 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 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.


Comment from Jo Ann:

Although Snopes has verified the story of "Reggie" as false, I still felt the need to post this story of a soldier, going off to war, and the dog he had to leave behind.

It touched my heart and had special meaning to me. One of my own dogs came from a soldier who was about to be deployed to Iraq.

It may have been false, but the message it sends is very real.

Since the war in Iraq began, I have had numerous requests from our Military personnel who faced this same situation. They were being deployed and desperately searching for a safe place for their beloved pets. They didn't want to go off to war never knowing what happened to the animal they had loved... the animal who had become such a big part of their life.

Although each set of circumstances may have been different, the bottom line was always the same. These people were going off to war, and each one knew that they may not make it back. All they asked was the peace of mind knowing that their "best buddy" was going to be OK.... such a small request from a soldier who was about to put their life on the line for the rest of us. Their only concern was not for themselves, but rather the animal they had to leave behind.

So, yes ... this story may have been fiction but, in reality, no truer words were ever written.

Please keep our Military in your prayers.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pilots N Paws 5000

PilotsnPaws is planning a "demonstration" of sorts. They want to fly 5,000 rescue dogs/cats in a one to two week period toillustrate why the proposed reg's are terrible. The time chosen is roughly Sept. 12 to Sept. 20. THEY NEED RESCUES TO CONTACT THEM!!!!!! From all across the country!!! ASAP!!!

This is a dream for rescues! LET'S HELP PILOTSnPAWS and get our animals to their new homes.

They ask that we choose trips of approx. 200 - 400 miles as that's about a one day trip for most pilots.

IF YOU ARE A RESCUE AND WILLING TO PARTICIPATE, please go the blog and comment:

PilotsNPaws is trying to plan a 5,000 Animal Rescue Week to highlight security clearance requirements that may threaten air transport of animals. They are asking if rescues across the country are willing to participate in transporting an animal oftheirs on a given week yet to be determined.


Air transport by volunteer pilots is so important. I think rescues would love this!!! The word is simply not getting to them. I have posted a link to this blog. Please go there and comment and send this to rescue groups. CROSS POST like mad. We can't lose these pilots. They also need people to join as volunteer fosters.

They have a great interactive map showing volunteers and where pilots are located. Please help with this. Can you imagine5,000 animals in the air in one week going to rescue or forever homes?!!!

Obviously, people can't hold dogs but it enough can be located within a given distance of these airports then whoever has ananimal that needs to get somewhere that week, can participate.

Lecia Conroy
847-212-2429 (cell)

Efforts to Address Ohio Dog Auctions and Puppy Mills

An update on the Ohio Dog Auctions and Puppy Mills initiative from Mary O'Conner-Shaver of Columbus Top Dogs:

Dear Companion Pet Lovers ~

It's been a couple of weeks since I last "spoke" to you regarding efforts to address Ohio dog auctions and puppy mills, so just wanted to share with you a few of the many recent developments that have taken place:

1. Initiated Statute (Ballot Initiative). On July 30, Don McTigue (our legal eagle) presented more than DOUBLE the required 1,000 signatures from registered voters to the Ohio Attorney General's office in support of our Amended Petition! Based on preliminary discussions, it appears this filing (which is Part 1 of a three part process) stands an excellent chance of being certified by the OAG and approved by the Ohio Ballot Board within the next seven business days! Should this be the case, we will be well-positioned to move forward with Part 2.

A HUGE thanks to voters from across 27 Ohio counties who helped us reach this significant milestone in our campaign! Plans are currently underway in the design and execution of this next critical signature drive for Part 2, and I will continue to keep you abreast of all "next steps" relating to this initiative.

Because so many people across Ohio feel passionately in supporting a ban on dog auctions, we continue to have the good fortune in connecting with many humane advocacy groups and individuals across the country who are committed to helping us succeed with our ballot initiative. To view all the voices who support a ban on Ohio dog auctions, click here.

2. 2009 Homeless Animals' Day (Billboard Campaign). To commemorate Homeless Animals' Day 2009, the Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions has partnered with International Society for Animal Rights (ISAR), Athens County Humane Society and Nauman Outdoor Advertising Company on the design and placement of a billboard along Route 33 in Athens County, as visitors are entering Nelsonville, Ohio.
The goal of this public education opportunity is to inform Ohio voters of an American tragedy that overwhelms our state's animal shelters each year, while promoting campaigns, programs and ideas which effectively address the pet overpopulation epidemic. To view our billboard message, click here.

A HUGE thanks to supporter Janice Kobi of Fairfield County CARES in helping to facilitate this project!

3. Pike County Rescue. This past Saturday, I had the privilege to participate in an emergency rescue transport of two incredibly sweet, terrier-mix girls (Mighty and Minnie) from Pike County Dog Pound to St. Francis Animal Sanctuary in Vermillion, Ohio. Both companions had open wounds (Minnie's wounds included maggots), urine burns, and poor Mighty was missing one of her front legs as a result of (what appeared to be) a botched amputation.

To read more about these two puppy mill survivors, click here.

Because St. Francis's founder, Deborah Parker, has been such a huge supporter of our campaign to address puppy mills and dog auctions in Ohio, we are making a special appeal for your assistance in helping these two girls and all the wonderful "special needs" companions who reside at St. Francis. Please note that St. Francis is dedicated to all the animals abused, starving and neglected, and they rely 100% on the generosity of private donations. Any gift you are able to give, no matter what the amount, is always very much welcomed and appreciated.

To make a donation through PayPal, click here.

A HUGE thanks to Transport Coordinator, Carolyn Brickner, and all the dedicated volunteers who helped with this very special rescue!

4. CHA Dog Jog. For more information on how you can support our efforts to address dog auctions and puppy mills in Ohio, we invite you to visit our booth during the 19th annual CHA Dog Jog on Saturday, August 22. The event is a 5K, which you can Run or Walk, and all proceeds will benefit the Citizens for Humane Action (CHA) Animal Shelter located in Westerville, Ohio.

For more information on this fun-filled event, click here.

Thanks everyone for continuing to serve as a strong voice for the animals!

Mary O'Connor-Shaver
Columbus Top Dogs

LEGISLATIVE ALERTS: Please visit our Home page for pending legislation impacting the welfare of OH animals -

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Thunderstorm Tips

A thunderstorm can be a nightmare for dogs that fear loud noises. Thunderstorms can strike with very little warning, at any time of day, and last for hours. The shock from a sudden clap of thunder can be devastating. So how can your fearful dog overcome his anxiety when the weather turns against you?

Click here to read Cesar's tip for thunderstorms.

Monday, August 3, 2009