Returning home after two tours of duty in Iraq, former U.S. Army Captain Luis Carlos Montalvan's physical injuries and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) turn his life into a nightmarish existence. An email with a subject of "WWP and Puppies Behind Bars" alerted him to possible relief with the assistance of a service dog. This is his story but it is also the story of Tuesday, the intelligent, extensively trained but heartbroken golden retriever, who is chosen to become his service dog and constant companion.
Much more than a dog story or a personal memoir, this is one of those rare books that enable the reader to come away with a different worldview. Just as Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet showed us the world through the eyes of an Autistic Savant, with Until Tuesday, Montalvan leaves his readers with a better understanding of the PTSD-driven world of a combat veteran and the valuable and unique role service dogs can fill in that world. Bruce T. Filbeck, Bookseller, #2696, Port Huron, MI
Man's best friend stars in this memoir by an Iraq vet who returns to New York and enlists the help of a golden retriever named Tuesday to help him re-acclimate in a new world marked by a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder. Montalván, a former captain of the US Army, is most compelling when zoning in on specifics, especially related to his psychological disorder: "The subway was a horror for my PTSD-addled brain, a nail-gripping, muscle-tensing ride in a claustrophobic tube full of faces my mind compulsively studied for signs of malicious intent." Although provided the assistance of a doctor and therapist, the commute to and from these sessions caused Montalván immense anxiety filled with hypothetical dangers. Public-speaking engagements similarly were racked with anxiety, and described vividly. Tuesday, a gentle golden retriever, became the perfect remedy for the veteran's neurosis. Though canine assistance and the Iraq war are both major characters, this is a valuable first-person glimpse into how someone with PTSD thinks. (May)
Read an Excerpt
"Tuesday combines a golden retriever's innate playfulness and bouncy exuberance with a noble bearing and seriousness of purpose. But it is not his beautiful coat, or even his regal attitude, that attract the stares. Tuesday has an extraordinarily expressive face. He has sensitive, almost sad eyes, but they are more than offset by his big goofy smile. He can't pass anyone without flashing them a sly look with those eyes, as if to say, sorry, I'd love to play, but I'm working. He just makes a connection; he has a personality that shines. I am not kidding when I say it is common for people to pull out their cell phones and take pictures of and with him. Tuesday is that kind of dog.
And then, in passing, they notice me, the big man with the tight haircut. There is nothing about me--even the straight, stiff way I carry myself--that signals disabled. Until people notice the cane in my left hand, that is, and the way I lean on it every few steps. Then they realize my stiff walk and straight posture aren't just pride, and that Tuesday isn't just an ordinary dog. He walks directly beside me, for instance, so that my right leg always bisects his body. He nuzzles me when my breathing changes, and he moves immediately between me and the object--a cat, an overeager child, a suspiciously closed door--any time I feel apprehensive. Because beautiful, happy-go-lucky, favorite-of-the-neighborhood Tuesday isn't my pet; he's my service dog."