"…I always smile when Tuesday and I sit on the stoop of my apartment building on West 112th Street, enjoying the warmth of the sun. I smile because even more than his training, it was Tuesday's personality that broke my shell and set me free."
Two tours of duty in Iraq left Captain Montalvan more traumatized than he ever would've thought possible. Physically a wreck and suffering from PTSD, he needed to recover from the heavy toll the war had exacted from him. Back home, he felt out of place, yet he could no longer serve in active duty. Unless he fortified himself with copious amounts of rum, social situations left him anxious and panicky. Even walking along the streets during the midday bustle made him extremely nervous. And just the thought of taking public transportation could send him into a downward spiral with hours, possibly days, of crippling headaches. Until Tuesday.
Through his years in Iraq, Montalvan grew frustrated with the military's lack of support. His unit needed more troops, better equipment, and the army standing resolutely behind them. Instead, they fought bad strategy, senseless regulations and an astonishing lack of honesty in addition to an enemy with highly unconventional battle techniques. Finally, disillusioned and wrung out, Montalvan filed his discharge papers. As a civilian once again, he found things no better. Not only did the American people view his disability with undisguised skepticism, the VA seemed to be everything but helpful. The final crushing blow, however, was his parents' lack of understanding. He hit bottom.
This wounded vet's turning point came when he learned of East Coast Assistance Dogs, or ECAD. They train dogs for many types of service, including soldiers who have lost limbs, have sensory disabilities, or need help coping. It is rigorous training, for both the dog and the veteran. In the end, though, it pays off with huge rewards.
Tuesday, a smiling Golden Retriever, had been through his own traumas. He bonded deeply with a prisoner in the Puppies Behind Bars program, but when his companion was transferred, Tuesday stayed behind. It was like tearing two brothers apart, but that was the way the system worked. For Tuesday, it was almost unbearable. His next couple of pairings didn't produce any better results.
So when Montalvan and Tuesday found each other, they cautiously let go of their doubts. It hasn't been an easy relationship, but the joy it has brought both man and dog is truly wonderful. Today they are inseparable. If you think you love your pet, just imagine that he is absolutely essential to your survival. That's how it is with Tuesday and Luis Carlos Montalvan.
Anyone who has ever run his hands through a dog's fur, felt the big sloppy kiss on his cheek, or gazed into the depths of their eyes will appreciate UNTIL TUESDAY. It is a heartwarming story of courage, immense bravery, companionship and, yes, love.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on May 3, 2011
Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him