It has been a mere seven months since we adopted Cinder Ella from Puppy Paws Rescue of Maryland. She has enamored us with her kindnesses, intelligence, playfulness, and gentleness. She truly is a significant member of our family. And her affection and attention to us has helped us better cope with these unusual Coronavirus days of isolation and overabundance of continuing bad news. And just this quickly, we have realized what a loss we will feel when her day comes to go to the rainbow bridge. Meanwhile, we pray that we have many, many happy years together before we have to say goodbye.
Which leads me to a story I discovered while scanning social media today. It was dated April 12, 2020, and was written by a woman who claimed to be new to the area and who had chosen to go to an animal rescue to find a companion pet–a black lab called “Reggie. Below, is the picture included with her post. As the story went on, the adoptive mom discovered a sealed envelop among the items that the owner had turned over to the rescue to be given to the adoptive family.
The letter was from the dog’s sole owner and sole companion of six years. He said they were inseparable and did everything together. He also included Reggie’s feeding schedule, his likes and dislikes, his favorite toys, activities, and even his quirks. Close to the end of the letter, the owner said Reggie’s real name was Tank, named because of the vehicle he drove. Then the owner said he was in the Army and just deployed to Iraq and that he hoped to retrieve his dog upon his return home… “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. Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight – every night – from me.”
Reggie/Tank’s new owner then closed her post by saying that she had heard of Paul Mallory, that everyone in town knew him. He was a local kid, killed in Iraq a few months earlier and posthumously given the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Paul was Reggie/Tank’s owner.
After reading this extremely endearing and detailed post, and the joy and tears disappeared, I realized that there were some gaps or guffaws in it. For example, what shelter can keep a dog and its belongings until the owner’s commanding officer contacts them to say that he won’t be coming home? So, I went back online and googled “Reggie and Tank black lab adoption story”. Researchers concluded the story was a hoax . It dates back to August 2008 when it was first posted. Researchers checked service records for men named Paul Mallory and men named Paul Mallory who had received posthumous Silver Medals. There were none. As poignant as the story was, it was fake. But my emotions that it evoked were very real.
So please share with others, to let them know that not everything you read is true; and to inform those family or friends who may have pets and are pending deployment that there are services to assist those departing for overseas duty with the process of finding good temporary homes for their pets, such as “Dogs on Deployment” and “Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet.” And, if you’re personally looking for a way to help those who are serving their country outside the U.S. and have room in your life for an extra cat or dog for the duration of someone’s tour of duty, do consider opening your home to a military pet.