After one man adopted a dog from a shelter, he was disappointed when the pooch didn’t exactly take to him. Upset that the adoption didn’t really net him a new best friend, he decided to make a controversial move — until a mysterious note changed his mind.
Anthony shared his experience on social media, and the heartbreaking story soon went viral. He had just moved to a new town. While he was excited for this new chapter in life, he was prepared to face a bit of loneliness. He was, after all, single and friendless. So he took the natural next step and decided to adopt a dog.
Luckily, he saw a black lab being advertised in the local paper. According to the shelter, the dog was all good to go and ready to be placed in a loving home.
When he called the shelter, Anthony was surprised to learn that many people had already inquired about the hopeful pup; however, nobody had been the perfect fit for the pooch. Knowing he’d make a great dog dag, Anthony headed off to the shelter.
Along with the dog, whose name was Reggie, the previous owner had provided a bed, food bowl, and toys. It seemed unusual that someone giving up a pet would go to such great lengths to ensure his comfort, but Anthony shrugged it off.
The first night was rough. Reggie was so frightened that Anthony literally had to pick him up and carry him through the doorway just to get the poor thing inside the house.
Unfortunately, the dog’s mood didn’t seem to improve. Just by looking into his pooch’s brown eyes, the new owner could tell something was amiss. Reggie looked sad, as if he had gone through some awful trauma. The shelter had no answers to his questions.
After two weeks, nothing in the dog’s demeanor had changed. With a heavy heart, Anthony made the reluctant decision to return Reggie to the shelter. Maybe he could find happiness with another family. He went to look for the shelter’s number.
Anthony began rummaging through the boxes that Reggie had arrived with, looking for the number. Suddenly, he happened upon something entirely unexpected: an unopened envelope. He hesitated…should he unseal it?
Before he could decide, something even stranger happened: For the first time since his adoption, Reggie appeared to perk up. He watched intently as Anthony handled the letter, seemingly wanting him to open it.
Anthony unsealed the envelope and pulled out a note from inside. It read: “To whoever gets my dog: Well, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie’s new owner.” There was more.
Intrigued, Anthony went on. “I’m not even happy writing it,” the note continued. “If you’re reading this, it means I just got back from my last car ride with my Lab after dropping him off at the shelter.”
Then, the letter took a very sad turn. “He knew something was different,” it read. “I have packed up his bed and toys before and set them by the back door before a trip, but this time, it’s like he could sense that something was wrong.”
The author of the mysterious note spoke lovingly of Reggie. He informed Anthony that he loved tennis balls, and could even fit two inside his mouth. But, he warned, be sure not to throw them by any roads because he will chase them.
To Anthony’s shock and surprise, the letter also claimed that Reggie in fact did have some training. Apparently, he knew basic commands such as sit and roll over, as well as more advanced ones such as shake and high five.
The letter also contained a warning: Reggie absolutely hated the vet. Hopefully he wouldn’t be getting sick anytime soon. Still, by this point Anthony was more confused than anything. Who was this mysterious owner, and why had he abandoned Reggie?
The letter continued on: “Finally, be patient with him. I have never been married, so it’s only been me in his whole life. He’s used to going everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can.”
Anthony was transfixed. He couldn’t take his eyes off the page, even though what he was reading was so sad. “He loves to be around people,” it read, “especially me. Which means this transition is going to be hard with him going to live with someone new.”
Then, the writer dropped a bombshell: Reggie’s name was not, in fact, actually Reggie. Anthony was completely stunned. This entire time he had been calling him by the wrong name.
The note continued, “He’s a clever dog; he’ll get used to [Reggie] and will respond eventually. But I couldn’t bear to give them his real name. For me to do that…was admitting that I’d never see him again.”
The pup’s real name, the author finally revealed, was Tank. Initially Anthony thought this seemed like a relatively odd choice for a dog name. He would soon realize that this moniker actually contained a huge clue as to the identity of the former owner.
He named the little guy Tank, he said, because he was a US soldier, and “that’s what he drives.” Everything was starting to make sense, but Anthony still had one more terrible truth to learn.
The soldier, who revealed himself to be named Paul Mallory, had given the army express instructions on what to do if anything happened to him: give Tank to a local shelter, and ensure he found a loving home.
Tragically, Mallory did end up passing away while saving his fellow comrades in a heroic act of courage. The army followed through on his final wishes and gave Tank to a shelter, where he ultimately encountered Anthony.
As luck would have it, Anthony and Tank totally hit it off. They still strive to honor Mallory’s legacy through bravery and kindness, as Anthony now knows that the bonds military personnel forge during their services are unbreakable. He would be more than touched to meet another vet who actually did make it out with his canine companion he rescued on duty.
That veteran was Sean Laidlaw. After two tours in Afghanistan, Sean (left) figured he could handle anything Syria threw at him. But when the British Army deployed Sean and his comrades in the Royal Engineers in 2018, he leaped into a rescue attempt that he never saw coming.
Sean was an expert at defusing and removing bombs. The Syrian Civil War had ravaged the country over the last several years, especially in the city of Raqqa. While many buildings crumbled around him, others still had undetonated explosives inside.
Even when Sean wasn’t on patrol, the army life was a grind. Exciting moments in the camp were few and far between, and troop morale suffered greatly. When Sean got a call to investigate a bombed-out school in February, he was almost grateful.
As Sean patrolled the area, he couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary. When he really focused, however, he thought he could hear a faint whimpering somewhere under the rubble. Sean followed the noise and started digging.
It was a puppy! The canine, which appeared to be some kind of Asian shepherd mix, backed away from Sean as he reached out. Sean knew he had to do something to help the poor thing, but then a horrific sight made him recoil.
A few other puppies surrounded the one Sean just found. Tragically, none of them had survived the collapse of the building. Now that the dog lost her family, Sean realized he couldn’t just leave her in the wreckage alone.
The pup still wouldn’t go near any strangers, so Sean did the sensible thing. He pulled out some water and a couple bites of food, and that was enough to draw the reluctant animal out from her hiding place.
Soon after, the orphaned canine let its guard down and allowed Sean to pick her up. There was an immediate bond. Sean decided to bring her back to base and introduce his new friend to all his squadmates. First, of course, she would need a name.
Sean called her Barrie, and she soon became a fixture in the Royal Engineers, barely ever leaving Sean’s side. Once she got settled in, Barrie accomplished quite a bit of good as well.
The Army interacted with a number of Syrian children, many of whom lost their homes and family members. Amid the chaos and destruction, having a friendly dog roam around made a big difference in their lives.
Sean also believes that having Barrie around gave him an escape from the stress and trauma of the military life. Whereas some of his comrades developed mental illness or PTSD, Sean at least had an outlet and companion.
Incredibly grateful to have such a valuable friend, Sean said “I feel like it may come across that I saved Barrie’s life, but I feel like she saved mine.” They got so close that Sean could no longer imagine being apart from Barrie.
Barrie became such a big member of the team that Sean decided to make it official and sewed together a custom bomb squad vest for Barrie. Aside from being a big fashion statement, the vest kept her protected from danger. However, it turned out that her biggest threat was right around the corner.
In autumn of 2018, Sean received word that his stint in Syria was almost over. He was going home — but only with one ticket. What would happen to Barrie once he left? He didn’t know if he would ever see his dog again, or even if she would still have a home at the Army base.
Sean’s comrades celebrated the entire trip back to the United Kingdom, but Barrie weighed heavily on his mind. Then, an idea popped into his head. He remembered hearing about a charity called War Paws that helped reconnect veterans with their military dogs.
War Paws workers seemed confident they could help Sean, but there were no guarantees. They instructed him to go to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to await the arrival of a military plane. He waited nervously, hoping Barrie would be one of the passengers getting off.
As the airline staff rolled out a dog crate, Sean recognized a familiar face peering through the door. Barrie made it to Europe after all! Holding back tears of joy, Sean reached out to hand her a gift.
He got Barrie a new and improved vest! She took a look in the airport mirror to size up her new duds — and her new surroundings. The streets of Raqqa, Syria, were all Barrie had ever known, so Sean hoped she would adjust to British life easily enough.
With Barrie back in his arms, Sean returned home to Hornchurch, Essex. She settled in immediately — a far cry from the scared puppy that wouldn’t come out of the ruined school. Thanks to a stable home and steady diet, Barrie grew like a weed too!
A full-grown dog, Barrie continued to live happily with Sean. After going through so much together, there’s no doubt that this pair would never let anything split them apart ever again. He knew how important animals can be fore veterans.