Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond between a Soldier and his Service Dog”
Rating: Five Stars
Can a battle-weathered Iraq War veteran, suffering from multiple physical injuries, including traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), write a children’s book to which kids could actually relate? A better question – can that veteran share his story and interact one-on-one with children effectively?
That’s what I went to the South Lansing branch of the Capital Area District Libraries in Lansing, Mich. recently to find out.
The veteran is Capt. Luis Carlos Montalván and the book is “Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond between a Soldier and His Service Dog” (with Bret Witter, photography by Dan Dion, Roaring Book Press.) Due to his injuries and resulting physical and emotional issues, Tuesday is Capt. Montalván’s constant companion and best friend. “Tuesday Tucks Me In” is narrated by Tuesday, telling the reader how he spends his day with Luis.
Juxtaposing his 6 foot 2 inch frame against his 3-foot tall audience of children ranging from 3 to 12 years-of-age was eye-opening. Luis, with Tuesday’s help, effectively and endearingly related to the children and told them in detail about the daily life of a service dog. Luis gently touched on the subject of war and PTSD for less than a minute.
Demonstrating Tuesday’s daily hygiene ritual told about in the book, Luis groomed Tuesday right there in the library. Tuesday started licking Luis’ hand as he was grooming him, and an adorable little girl pointed it out. Luis told her, “He likes that I’m taking care of him…it’s a very natural, good loving thing to do for your dog.”
I have written about Capt. Montalván before, including a previous review of “Tuesday Tucks Me In.” But watching the children form a semicircle around Luis and Tuesday, listening and watching intently, the overwhelming universal truth of Luis and Tuesday’s story suddenly hit me. This is not just a story of an injured Iraq War veteran and his service dog; it is a story as pure and simple as Jesus’ commandment for us to love each other as we want to be loved. Luis’ relationship with Tuesday the Golden Retriever is the living example of the Golden Rule.
A few months ago I interviewed Mike Farrell, death penalty abolitionist and human rights advocate, formerly of “M*A*S*H” and “Providence” fame, about his book, “Just Call Me Mike.” He kindly shared a speech he delivered to the graduating class at the U.S. Air Force Academy last February.
In that speech, he referenced Wangari Maathai, who lived as a poor child in Kenya, but her intelligence transcended her impoverished circumstances. Wangari entered a scholarship program funded by then-Senator John F. Kennedy and studied in both the U.S. and Kenya. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 and during her acceptance speech Wangari reflected on the severe environmental damage our earth has suffered, finishing her remarks by reminding everyone that “our task today is to give back to the children a world of wonder and beauty.”
Wangari’s theme to give back to our children a “world of wonder and beauty” is another iteration of the Golden Rule, and doing so will secure they will do likewise with their children. Just as the children with whom Capt. Montalván interacted were being taught to give back to their future children and animals alike.
Today is September 11th which is recognized by most people as a day to remember a great tragedy. But in 1893 on this day, the Parliament of the World’s Religions met for the first time. One hundred years later, in 1993, the same group adopted the “Declaration Toward a Global Ethic,” which established the Golden Rule as one shared fundamental truth of all religions.
In “Just Call Me Mike,” Mike Farrell recalls a turning point in his life when he realized what he needed most in life were three things, “Love, attention and respect. It’s amazing how simple – and powerful – it can be.”
The significance of Mike Farrell’s epiphany those many years ago is underscored daily by the increased recognition that all people must help and watch out for each other and the earth’s animals. Everyone must be treated equally, as we all would want to be treated. The understanding that the Golden Rule is as simple and basic as grooming a furry best friend in return for a lick on the hand.
Photograph Credit: Angel Vogel