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Until Tuesday: A Soldier, Service Dog and Salvation

Until Tuesday is the story of two wounded hearts. Both of of these souls had given great amounts of effort to succeed in their careers, and suffered the consequences. Over time, they found salvation in each other. This story about the bond of a Service Dog and his handler, is also a story about love and it’s power to heal, a true story of a phoenix rising.

In order to rise from it’s own ashes, a phoenix first must burn.”
Octavia E. Butler

Tuesday Montalvan

Tuesday Montalván —Original art by Lisa Faulkner. 11″ x 14″ mixed media on canvas.

With the new television series, Tails of Valor, currently filming, it is the perfect time to read or re-read Until Tuesday – A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him.

Montalván’s book will easily lend depth to the series for the viewer, who may not have ever been lucky enough to experience a bond between human and canine that is this strong. This new television will focus on the the heroic and amazing actions and jobs that working dogs are trained to perform the bond that makes these acts possible. Without that bond — that Montalván so eloquently focuses on in Until Tuesday — the heroism of these dogs and handlers would not be possible.

He shows, through his own experiences and thoughts, that he truly is a phoenix that has burned, risen and learned to fly all over again. He relates such personal details, both of his time in Iraq and his time Stateside, that it resonates firmly in my own life, both as a proud Army Veteran’s wife, and separately, as a survivor of traumatic trials of my own.

The book is an autobiographical account of former Army Captain and decorated war Veteran, Luis Carlos Montalván, and his partner Tuesday — a Golden Retriever, trained by East Coast Assistance Dogs (ECAD). The book begins by telling how Tuesday’s heart came to be broken. With facts and Montalván’s knowledge of Tuesday now, we get a glimpse inside Tuesday’s heart and mind. This anthropomorphic storytelling device feels a little unexpected at first, but once you read further it’s clear that Tuesday has a soul — an injured one at that. Tuesday’s need to be loved — and give love — can only be matched by Montalván.

Until Tuesday gripped me, body and mind, from the first sentence to the very last word.

While in Al-Waleed, Iraq and later in the “Triangle of Death”, South of Baghdad, Iraq, Montalván’s mettle was tested, fracturing him in both in body and mind. After his injuries, he returned to the field almost immediately and then later for a second tour. He fought the enemy on the ground — but the fight insidiously crept into heart and soul. He came home different man; a soul tortured by memories, Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI’s), a badly injured knee and three cracked vertebrae in his back. But that was far from the end of the tale.

I may have been a broken soldier—and I say that now with pride, not shame—but I was not a failure.” Until Tuesday, page 113.

Until Tuesday - Book CoverAt it’s core, Tuesday’s and Montalván’s story is one of a phoenix, but it’s also a true love story. The love story in which two halves of a whole come together. Montalván needed Tuesday as badly as Tuesday needed him. There’s real love there. Because of that love, the phoenix of cinders, both Montalván’s and Tuesday’s hearts and minds, began to breathe.

The partnership was not instant. The the duo had to work to become a team. In many moments, I felt myself walk beside Tuesday with Montalván and feel their growing pains, much like I felt Montalván’s pain and anguish before Tuesday, and Tuesday’s anguish and sadness before Montalván. I felt the horror at their first encounter with an access denial issue. I remembered how I stumbled and hid from my own access issues for years, until a dear friend told me some words of wisdom. My friend told me that I was fighting for my dog, not myself. I wanted to jump up and scream both at the offending party and at Montalván, and I wanted so badly to be there… years after the fact, as I read Montalván’s book.

Until Tuesday isn’t the easiest read, at least for me. There were times while reading Montalván’s book that I had to stop because the tears were coming so fast and furious. I just wanted, now that I’m partnered with my third Service Dog and am familiar with these trials, to hug both Montalván and Tuesday, tell them that it would be okay, then go with them and work in public together.

Now that I’m bonded with my third dog, I am more prepared for the stares and glares from the judgmental and ill-informed who sometimes comment “that’s not a service dog” and “I know service dogs,” as well as the flat refusal of service. The part of me that was afraid is gone. I see that in Montalván too, as he builds a solid team with Tuesday. The phoenix rises.

From soldier to scholar, Montalván has discovered an outlet for his trauma and pain. He’s worked tirelessly to become a powerful advocate for both other soldiers and for Civilian persons with disabilities that are partnered with Service Dogs. When this book came to a close, after tears and the dark walk through my own memories, I smiled as I watched the Phoenix spread it’s wings and fly as Tuesday and Montalván crossed the stage at Columbia University.

To keep up-to-date on Tails of Valor, air dates, channel information and more, please join their Facebook page.

 

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