Bow-Wow!

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

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Posted June 29, 2011 in Arts & Culture

Keys? Check.

You wouldn’t think to leave the house without them. Your wallet is always along, too, as are several other necessities, without which you’d feel almost naked. You grab these things on your way out the door, patting your pockets. It’s automatic.

Author and former Captain Luis Carlos Montalván never leaves his apartment, either, without something very special. In the new book Until Tuesday (with Bret Witter), they explain…

Growing up as a Cuban American, Luis Carlos Montalván says that his mother taught him manners, his papá taught him “to be tough and never quit” and both instilled a good work ethic in their son. They were, however, against Montalván’s decision to join the Army.

Montalván says he was mostly just “an enlisted grunt” but in September, 2001, following the attack on the Pentagon, he begged to go overseas. He was sent to Al-Waleed, the largest border crossing between Syria and Iraq, a place that “was like America’s Wild West out there.”

But just months after he arrived, Montalván was attacked by a driver-possible-smuggler and was badly injured: cracked vertebrae, bruises, cuts, and a traumatic brain injury. The medical team wanted him sent to Baghdad, but Montalván resisted. He returned to Al-Waleed and later re-upped for a second tour of duty.

When that tour was over, Montalván was “ready to leave.” He’d seen enough, had lost enough friends. He landed in a tiny Brooklyn apartment, suffering from migraines, PTSD, agoraphobia, and injuries both physical and emotional.

Then someone sent him an email about service dogs available to war veterans.

Montalván had a dog growing up, and it was his best playmate. He remembered how he loved dogs, and this seemed to be the lifeline he needed. He applied and a few months later, he met Tuesday.

With a reddish-brown coat, a fanned tail, wiggly eyebrows, and an expressive face, Tuesday was beautiful but he didn’t appear to be paying attention to his job. Still, Montalván knew on his second day in training that this was his dog. He knew Tuesday could help him heal.

What he didn’t know was that the healing would come on both ends of the leash . . .

Never judge a book by its cover.

Until Tuesday is much more than the goofy Golden grin you see on the book jacket. Montalván (with Bret Witter) writes of the horrors of war from a soldier’s viewpoint and war’s aftermath from a survivor’s viewpoint. He has a few choice words about his Commanders in Chief and our involvement in Iraq, and he becomes an activist before our eyes when people deny Tuesday entry to everyday places.

But where Montalván soars is in writing about his dog. His is puppy love in the purest sense, and for dog lovers, it’s as delightful as that grin on the cover of this book.

If a happy ending is what you want for your summertime reading, this is the thing to fetch. Grab Until Tuesday and you won’t want to go anywhere without it.

Until Tuesday by Fmr. Capt. Luis Carlos Montalván, with Bret Witter. Hyperion, hardcover, 252 pages. List price $22.99.


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