Luis Carlos Montalvan shared his recollections from serving in Iraq during a video advertisement for his New York Times bestselling memoir: “Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him”: “I’m a 17 year veteran and a former captain in the U.S. Army…I was on foot patrol with one of my men and I was attacked by two men…In the attack, I sustained what I would later learn to be a traumatic brain injury and fractured vertebrae. I was beginning to experience the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder… I had to get out and was honorably discharged.”
Since then, Montalvan moved to New York City, attended Columbia University and connected with Tuesday, a service training dog. He teamed up with co-author Bret Witter to write “Until Tuesday” and “Tuesday Tucks Me In,” a picture book for children with photos by Dan Dion. On Wednesday, Sept. 30, Montalvan and Tuesday made an appearance at Central Park Library to promote the picture book.
“I thought his stories would be enlightening to kids and it would be educational to see firsthand how a service dog helps someone.” says Erin Ulrich, the library’s program coordinator of youth services.
Montalvan believes humans and dogs have been friends since humans were cave dwellers 50,000 years ago.
“Scientists found a cave in France–it’s called the Chauvet Cave. There’s a beautiful documentary called ‘Cave of [Forgotten] Dreams,'” Montalvan says. “Scientists found paintings on the walls of this cave. I’m not talking about, you know, stick figures. I’m talking about beautiful paintings of horses and wolves and even the woolly mammoth…They even have paintings of dogs that humans did because dogs were so important to them in that time. Also what Tuesday and I think is neat is they found 40,000 year-old footprints of a little girl walking in the cave and beside her footprints were footprints of her dog.”
Montalvan read aloud from “Tuesday Tucks Me In.” The book, told from the perspective of Tuesday, sheds light on the difficulties an injured war soldier might endure upon returning home, such as struggling to navigate through a subway station, having nightmarish flashbacks, and feeling alarmed around people or loud sounds. Fortunately, Tuesday has been able to offer support to help remedy these challenges.
“Service dogs like Tuesday help people with disabilities for many different things,” Montalvan says.
In the final part of the presentation, Montalvan demonstrated how he takes care of Tuesday and how Tuesday takes care of him. After brushing Tuesday’s thick coat, he wiped her paws with baby wipes. While he often brushes Tuesday’s teeth with chicken-flavored toothpaste, tonight he applied peanut butter-flavored toothpaste instead.
“I hurt my back in the war,” Montalvan says. “It hurts to bend over. I have Tuesday who can get about anything under 30 pounds from somewhere.”
Montalvan guided Tuesday to fetch his cane, wave at a child, and turn around on demand.
“Nurturing is so important to all of us,” says Montalvan, bringing Tuesday close to him. “It’s the building block of relations.”