The Incredibly Heart Breaking and Improbable Tale of Tank the Dog

 

Warning: This story will hit you right in the feels.

Earlier today, whilst I perused the  vast wasteland that is the internet, I came across a story that, after much research I found it probably and most likely untrue. However, it tugged at my heart-strings so much that I could not help but share it with all of you. This story starts with a handsome black Labrador named Reggie, but as you are about to find out, sometimes things aren’t always what they seem.

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Tank 2

‘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.

Tank 4

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 or 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 “darn 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. He knew something was different. 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 hoards 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 them, so be careful. Don’t do it by any roads.

 Next, commands. Reggie knows the obvious 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, regular store-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 he knows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he knows. Finally, give him some time. 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.
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 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. 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.”
Tank 1
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I warned you. If you aren’t crying like the sap you secretly know you are, then you are either the Grinch and your heart is two sizes too small, or you are a robot.
try not to cry
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Whether this story is true or not, it serves a greater purpose. It helps to remind us all that the men and women who faithfully serve our country in the armed forces, have to make sacrifices that you and I may never have to make. Be it a beloved pet, or loving family members, our soldiers deserve our gratitude and respect. 

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