I have a new found respect, both for veterans and for service dogs, after reading this book. When I first began to read this story I was anticipating learning about a wounded warrior and his pet. But as Fmr. Captain Luis Carlos Montalvàn so eloquently states more than once, Tuesday is not a pet. Tuesday is his life-line, his oxygen tank, his medicine, an extension of himself that allows him to survive and exist with his everyday struggles and pain.
Ultimately this book is a story about Luis and Tuesday and their partnership, but the author begins by telling his backstory as well as the backstory of Tuesday. Both had their challenges. He spent two tours in Iraq and subsequently suffered from PTSD, among a host of other mental and physical challenges. Tuesday was part of East Coast Assistance Dogs (ECAD) in New York, and part of his training included spending time in the Puppies Behind Bars program before ultimately returning to ECAD and meeting Montalvàn. It’s clear the author spent many hours learning about Tuesday’s background and experiences because he does an excellent job describing Tuesday’s journey from young pup to full-fledged working dog.
The training program is quite extensive, both for the dog and human participants. Montalvàn spent several weeks staying on campus with Tuesday at ECAD and training nearly 24-7. Lessons covered learning over 150 different commands as well as basic rules and guidelines to living with a service pet. For example, within the first few months of bringing Tuesday home, Montalvàn was instructed not to let anyone else touch or pet Tuesday so as not to distract him during the transition. Life with Tuesday after ECAD took some adjustment, and Montalvàn does not shy away from describing his experiences and suffering. But because of Tuesday, events such as a subway ride (which might have caused a PTSD attack) became more manageable with Tuesday to calm him.
What an inspiration these two are – Montalvàn for his willingness to share his story, and Tuesday for his willingness to please and carry-out his honorable “duties” as a service dog. Those interested in learning more about service dogs, including how they are trained and how the programs that train dogs operate, will absolutely love this book. —Reviewed by Emily Buser
Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him
By Fmr. Captain Luis Carlos Montalvàn, with Bret Witter
252 pages, 2011