Sunday, May 15, 2011
Publisher's Summary. A highly decorated captain in the U.S. Army, Luis Montalván never backed down from a challenge during his two tours of duty in Iraq. After returning home from combat, however, the pressures of his physical wounds, traumatic brain injury, and crippling post-traumatic stress disorder began to take their toll. Haunted by the war and in constant physical pain, he soon found himself unable to climb a simple flight of stairs or face a bus ride to the VA hospital. He drank; he argued; ultimately, he cut himself off from those he loved. Alienated and alone, unable to sleep or bend over without pain, he began to wonder if he would ever recover.
Then Luis met Tuesday, a beautiful and sensitive golden retriever trained to assist the disabled. Tuesday had lived amongst prisoners and at a home for troubled boys, blessing many lives; he could turn on lights, open doors, and sense the onset of anxiety and flashbacks. But because of a unique training situation and sensitive nature, he found it difficult to trust in or connect with a human being—until Luis.
Until Tuesday is the story of how two wounded warriors, who had given so much and suffered the consequences, found salvation in each other. It is a story about war and peace, injury and recovery, psychological wounds and spiritual restoration. But more than that, it is a story about the love between a man and dog, and how together they healed each other’s souls.
Review. You know the old saying don’t judge a book by its cover? Well, I’m guilty as charged because when I saw the cover of Until Tuesday by Fmr. Capt. Luis Carlos Montalván and Bret Witter I HAD to read this canine/human memoir. What a spectacular cover!
Seriously, take a look at the gorgeous Golden Retriever on this cover, can you blame me? However, apart from the knock-out canine, the military identification tags dangling from the dog’s mouth also drew my attention. The “dog tags” Tuesday is patiently holding represent both Montalván and the fact that Tuesday is the veteran’s service dog which is the story in a nutshell.
Montalván is a decorated seventeen year Army veteran who served two tours in war torn Iraq before being honorably discharged due to his military injuries. During Montalván’s first Iraqi tour, in December 2003, terrorists attacked him, leaving the author with multiple physical and mental disabilities including three cracked vertebrae, a traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In denial of his disabilities, Montalván persevered through a second tour of Iraq in 2006, before the physical and mental injuries brought his world to a halt.
The author’s downward spiral of agoraphobia, crippling migraines and alcoholism continued unabated until Tuesday entered his life. Tuesday, however, is no ordinary service dog, but rather is very bright (responding to 140 verbal commands) and unusually sensitive canine. This is a perfect combination for Montalván who needs Tuesday primarily for calming purposes. Tuesday’s emotional sensitivity, however, caused the canine much hardship early in life when he was paired, under the Puppies Behind Bars Program, with inmate trainers who left him. Eventually, through intensive retraining Tuesday became an exemplary service dog who successfully bonded with Montalván.
Until Tuesday is an eye-opening memoir that encompasses several subject areas: the training of a service dog; Montalván’s military service (Note: Some of the war passages are highly disturbing, but are necessary to convey the author’s PTSD symptoms. Additionally, the author expresses political views of the Iraqi war that some readers may disagree with); the Veteran’s Administration’s indifferent treatment of disabled veterans; and the continued discrimination persons with service dogs are subjected to. The last topic was surprising to me because service dogs wear clearly marked vests and act better than some humans. Clearly more education is needed for retail personnel to understand that a service dog is a highly-trained working canine that the disabled person needs and is legally entitled to have with him or her.
After reading Until Tuesday I wanted to give the author and Tuesday a big hug. Hopefully, someday I will. In the meantime, however, in honor of Montalván and Tuesday I’m going to donate to one of the service dog training programs mentioned in the memoir. Thank you Fmr. Capt. Luis Carlos Montalván and Tuesday for sharing your inspirational story!
Advance review copy provided courtesy of the publisher.