Appreciation

dahlia

When I was in the midst of the Slough of Despond over the state of my office Deb showed up with these glorious flowers as a congratulations on my talk at Essex Meadows.

I have never seen any dahlias so enormous with such glorious color. They come from the garden of our friend the super gardener Smiley Hiller.

Thank you, Deb and thank you, Smiley.

New Journey for Luis and Tuesday

luis

More than four years ago, I made the acquaintance of Capt. Montalván and Tuesday, the wonder retriever. The blog post about Until Tuesday is reproduced below. But first a plea. Luis had his right leg amputated and is need of more than $130,000 for a prosthesis and all the electronics that go along with it. Here’s a link to his Go Fund Me account. Please consider a generous contribution. I just gave one.

What I’m Reading Now (from March 27, 2012)

Another in an occasional series. Luis Carlos Montalván and Bret Witter have done the impossible: made me fall in love with a dog I’ve never met. I started Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever who Saved Him as part of the One Book One Middletown project on Unbroken, but I’ve been galloping through it because it is such a fabulous tale, so eloquently told. I’m not sure whose story has more pathos: Tuesday, taken as a tiny puppy from his mother, never allowed to bond with a human, sent to Puppies on Prison, and nearly flunking service training because of his independent spirit; or former Captain Montalván, who, despite multiple and severe physical and psychological injuries, returns for a second tour to Iraq where he nearly dies, then spends years after his return self-medicating because the military and the Veterans Administration have absolutely no resources to treat him.

I’ve always known that cats and dogs have expressions, but I don’t think any personality comes through clearer than Tuesday on the cover of the book, dog tags (the human kind) in his mouth, looking intent and kind and oh, so beautiful. For a small sense of that beauty, watch this YouTube video.

That beauty is inside and outside. The inside is all him. The outside requires a great deal of effort, and it is a task that Captain Montalván does with meticulous care. He cleans Tuesday’s ears with Q-tips, his paws with baby wipes, brushes his teeth with chicken flavored toothpaste (which he says tastes disgusting, though Tuesday loves it). And of course brushing and combing, combing and brushing and more brushing and combing that glorious coat. Captain Montalván gives Tuesday the “spit shine” he formerly applied to his military uniform. Tuesday adores every second of the attention.

There are many gems in this book, and I don’t want to spoil the delight for anyone, but I have to quote my favorite. While Tuesday was in training, he went to church. “At communion, he followed his foster mother to the kneeler. Instead of sitting behind her as she expected, Tuesday sat beside her, with his paws on the altar rail. Everyone else had their hands there, so why not? When the priest came with the communion wafers, Tuesday quietly watched him pass, but his eyes said, “Hey, why didn’t I get a treat?” The priest came back, placed his hands on Tuesday’s head and blessed his future work. …” As the trainer said, Tuesday isn’t a perfect dog, but he was perfect for the captain.

I’m almost done with the book, but two puzzles remain. One is that the captain managed to attend Columbia School of Journalism even before he had Tuesday’s support. I’ve heard more than one person talk about the rigor of the place. Despite his multiple injuries, Captain Montalván retains his iron will. I guess I’m just not strong enough to imagine struggling around Manhattan, and before that Brooklyn, the way he did and maintaining high academic standards at the same time.

The other conundrum is a matter of philosophy. Captain Montalván realized early on and publicized the fact that American troops in Iraq were facing an impossible situation because of lack of personnel and equipment. I don’t understand how the American Enterprise Institute let him anywhere near its door, let alone gave him a seat at the table. I hope the “think tankers” learned something. Perhaps I’ll have an answer to my question before the book ends.

Finally, here’s a suggestion. The Tuesday Diaries would give fans a way to keep up with this great dog and his amazing owner.