New Owner Was Going To Return Shelter Dog, But Then He Read A Letter From The Previous Owner

Anthony did one of the most selfless acts a person can do. He adopted a dog from the shelter, Reggie. After bringing the pup home, he didn’t really think they were a good fit. Poor Reggie wasn’t responding to his name and he seemed downright sad.

Anthony thought bringing him back to the shelter was the right move. Another family would make him happy, right? That was before he found a letter from the previous owner, changing his life and Reggie’s forever.

A New Town Means A New Dog

A New Town Means A New Dog
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Anthony had just moved to a college town six months prior, but even so, he knew it was going to be a great fit. Everyone was hospitable, and no matter the time of day, people would always say hello. But a new town can be difficult when you’re single and have no one to go home to.

Luckily for Anthony, the local shelter had just put a Labrador up for adoption in the paper. The listing said his name was Reggie.

Reggie, The Most Popular Dog At The Shelter

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Instagram

When he contacted the shelter about Reggie, Anthony was surprised to hear that a number of people had already asked about the lab. He had just seen the listing in the paper, after all. Thankfully, the shelter didn’t think any of the people were a good fit for the pooch.

Anthony, on the other hand, knew instantly that Reggie was the dog for him. It was strange though, along with Reggie himself, the previous owner had left behind a dog bed, food bowl, toys, and a mysterious letter.

No One Ever Said This Was Going To Be Easy

No One Ever Said This Was Going To Be Easy
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Instagram

It’s said that the first day is always the most difficult, and that couldn’t be more true for Anthony and Reggie. The new dog owner literally had to carry a scared Reggie through the front door. Not the greatest start for man’s best friend.

Just looking into Reggie’s brown eyes, Anthony knew something horrible had happened to him. There was a trauma there that wasn’t going to go away anytime soon. The people at the shelter weren’t sure what happened to him, though, so it was a guessing game.

Two Weeks Down And Nothing Was Working

Two Weeks Down And Nothing Is Working
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After two weeks of housing Reggie, Anthony decided it was time to bring him back to the shelter. Maybe another family would have better luck in making him happy.

“When the two weeks were up, I felt it was time and that I had to take him back. I knew the number for the shelter would be amongst his old stuff, and I remembered leaving it there in one of the boxes in the guest room,” he said.

The Letter That Changed Everything

The Letter That Changed Everything
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Instagram

While going through Reggie’s things, Anthony noticed the sealed envelope the previous owner had left behind. The one he had never opened. Even stranger was that Anthony noticed a sudden change in attitude when Reggie saw him looking through his old stuff. Almost like he was taking a dog trip down memory lane.

He actually seemed excited for once. That made Anthony stare at the envelope harder. Reggie was almost egging Anthony on, urging him to open the letter and read what his old owner had left behind.

To Whoever Gets My Dog:

To Whoever Gets My Dog:
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Anthony finally got up the nerve to open the letter. “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,” the previous owner wrote.

“I’m not even happy writing it. 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.” You won’t believe what the letter says next.

Anthony Finally Got Some Much-Needed Answers

Anthony Finally Got Some Much Needed Answers
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Now thoroughly interested in what this person had to say, Anthony kept reading, “He knew something was different. 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.”

“It’s sad for me, but that is why I have decided to write this letter. So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.”

For The Love Of Tennis Balls

For The Love Of Tennis Balls
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Why did this person give Reggie up for adoption? He spoke so highly of the pooch, writing, “First, he loves tennis balls, and he loves to hoard them. He usually always had two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there.”

“It doesn’t matter where you throw them; he’ll jump right after, so be careful- really don’t do it by any roads. I nearly made that mistake once. Next, commands. Maybe the shelter staff already told you, but I’ll go over them again: Reggie knows the obvious ones- sit, stay, come, heel.”

Oh, So Reggie Does Have Some Training

Oh, So Reggie Does Have Some Training
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Anthony learned that Reggie does, in fact, have some sort of training. “He knows hand signals: ‘back’ to turn around and go back when you put your hand straight up; and ‘over’ if you put your hand out right or left,” he wrote.

“‘Shake’ for shaking the water off and ‘paw’ for a high- five. He does ‘down’ when he feels like lying down…He knows ball and food and bone and treats like nobody’s business. I trained Reggie with small food treats.”

Good Luck At The Vet

Good Luck At The Vet
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The previous owner even went as far as giving Anthony a heads up. “Be forewarned: Reggie doesn’t like the vet,” he wrote. “Good luck getting him in the car – I don’t know exactly how he knows when it’s time for him to go to the vet, but he can somehow sense it.”

How are dogs able to sense those things? Well, hopefully, Reggie doesn’t get sick or hurt himself anytime soon, but it was still a nice heads up!

He Just Needs A Little TLC

He Just Needs A Little TLC
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He also reminds Anthony that Reggie is a dog, and needs ample attention. “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,” he wrote.

“He loves to be around people, especially me. Which means this transition is going to be hard with him going to live with someone new.”

Reggie Isn’t Actually A Reggie?

Reggie Isn't Actually A Reggie?
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Then something strange happened. The writer told Anthony that Reggie’s name isn’t actually Reggie! “I don’t know what made me do it exactly, but when I dropped him off at the shelter, I just told them his name was Reggie,” he wrote.

“He’s a clever dog; he’ll get used to it and will respond eventually. But I couldn’t bear to give them his real name. For me to do that, it would feel so final and binding, that handing him over was admitting that I’d never see him again.”

Everyone Is Now In Tears

Everyone Is Now In Tears
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We’re not crying, you’re crying. Anthony was also probably crying because this letter could not have been easy to write. “If someone else might be reading it, well, it means that his new owner ought to know his real name. It’ll help you bond with him, and him with you,” he wrote.

“Who knows, maybe you’ll even notice a change in him if he’s been difficult. And that’s why I need to share one more thing with you…”

The Previous Owner’s Occupation Explains Everything

The Previous Owner's Occupation Explains Everything
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Then Reggie’s real name is revealed. “His real name is Tank because that’s what I drive. I told the shelter that they couldn’t put ‘Reggie’ up for adoption until they received word from my commander,” he wrote.

“There was no one I could’ve left Tank with. It was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq that they make one phone call to shelter in the ‘event of…’ To tell them Tank could be put for adoption.”

Dogs Need Letters, Too!

Dogs Need Letters, Too!
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There is no way that was an easy choice for the previous owner. As Anthony kept reading, it was clear why he had to put Tank in the shelter. “Well, this letter is getting depressing, even though, I am just writing it for my dog,” he wrote.

“But dogs can be like family and he has been with me for the past six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family.” Excuse us while we find a dog to hug.

Tank Helped His Previous Owner Make Tough Decisions

Tank Helped His Previous Owner Make Tough Decisions
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Instagram

The previous owner and Tank are the textbook definition of Man’s Best Friend.”That unconditional love from a dog is what I will take with me to Iraq as an inspiration to do something selfless, to protect innocent people from those who would do terrible things,” he wrote.

“If I had to give up Tank to do it, I’m glad to have done so. He was my example of service and love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.”

Thank You For Your Service, Paul Mallory

Thank You For Your Service, Paul Mallory
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Last but not least, the writer thanked Anthony for adopting Tank. “I don’t think I can bear another goodbye to Tank, though. I cried so much the first time; maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally managed to get that third tennis ball in his mouth,” he wrote.

“All the best of luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight- every night- from me. Thank you, Paul Mallory.”

Tank’s Story Finally Made Sense

Tank's Story Finally Made Sense
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Paul Mallory was a name Anthony would always remember, and one he had heard around town before adopting Tank. Sadly, the young man died during his deployment to Iraq on a mission to save three fellow soldiers.

Paul received the Silver Star posthumously for his heroics. That knowledge was all it took to have Anthony break down into tears and stare at his unlikely companion. Now he knew why Tank seemed so sad all the time.

Tank Was Going To Be Okay

Tank Was Going To Be Okay
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At that moment, there were two words Anthony knew he had to say, “Hey, Tank.” That was all it took for the lab to perk up and actually notice his new owner. He even went as far as to run over to Anthony, letting him give him a hug and pet his head.

Tank finally seemed at ease with his new owner. He even let Anthony throw the ball to him. Things were looking up!

Anthony And Tank Were Going To Work Things Out

Anthony And Tank Were Going To Work Things Out
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After the letter, things just fell into place for Anthony and Tank. Obviously, after learning what happened to Tank’s previous owner, he wasn’t going to bring him back to the shelter. They were going to figure this out, together. That is what Paul would have wanted, after all.

“I can only hope and pray that you make him part of your family and that he will adapt and come to love you the same way he loved me.” Rest assured, Paul, Tank is in loving hands.

No One Wanted This Deaf Puppy Until He Met The Only Person Who Could Truly Understand Him

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NFR Maine/Facebook
NFR Maine/Facebook

This sweet boy’s name is Emerson. He and his siblings were less than six weeks old when they were abandoned on the side of the road in northwestern Florida. Thankfully, a good Samaritan found them and brought them to the North Florida Rescue.

NFR saves many animals from high kill shelters. Their dedicated team of volunteers fosters and cares for the animals until they can find forever homes. But for Emerson, finding a forever home wasn’t easy.

A “Special Needs” Puppy

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NFR Maine/Facebook
NFR Maine/Facebook

Shortly after being taken in, Emerson and his siblings were transferred to NFR in Maine. At eight weeks old, there was hope that the black Labrador puppies would fare well at NFR Maine but that simply wasn’t the case – at least when it came to Emerson.

Emerson turned out to be the runt in comparison to his siblings. He also had a deformity in his leg that labeled him a “special needs” dog.

Emerson Began Having Seizures

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NFR Maine/Facebook
NFR Maine/Facebook

Emerson’s front left leg turned out to be the least of his problems. It wasn’t long before the young puppy began experiencing regular seizures. “We have him at the emergency vet and are doing whatever we can to help him. He is currently receiving fluids and we will be having a series of [tests] run on him,” NFR Maine shared on Facebook.

Emerson’s emergency vet bills at that point were as much as $850 and counting.

Emerson Was Left Behind

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NFR Maine/Facebook
NFR Maine/Facebook

The cause of Emerson’s seizures remained a mystery and to make matters worse, the pup wasn’t eating or drinking. Despite the fact that the seizures began subsiding the next day, Emerson had to stay in the hospital to remain on fluids.

Meanwhile, his siblings generated interest among potential forever homes. Emerson saw himself get left behind as a result of his health problems, which only continued to get worse for him.

He Contracted A Fatal Virus

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NFR Maine/Facebook
NFR Maine/Facebook

Seizures weren’t the only issue Emerson encountered in his short life. Not long after they started going away, the puppy developed a case of Parvo.

Otherwise known as Canine Parvovirus, the highly contagious disease is spread by contact with infected dogs and contaminated surfaces. It affects a dog’s gastrointestinal tracts and can cause death within three days. Unvaccinated dogs and those under four months old are particularly at risk. Emerson was less than ten weeks old at this point.

The Rescue Didn’t Think He’d Survive

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NFR Maine/Facebook
NFR Maine/Facebook

While all of Emerson’s siblings were adopted right after arriving at NFR Maine, he was “struggling to survive.” In fact, the volunteers at NFR Maine were already preparing for the worst possible scenario.

“With all that this poor boy has been [through] already in his short life, his body is already weak and we have to brace ourselves that he may not make it. That is a cold reality of rescue, we lose some,” they wrote.

He Recovered, But There Was Still Something Wrong

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NFR Maine/Facebook
NFR Maine/Facebook

The volunteers at NFR Maine did everything they could to give Emerson a fair, fighting chance at a good life. Soon, by some miracle, Emerson began healing from his seizures and his Parvo diagnosis.

But despite the fact that Emerson was healing, he wasn’t completely out of the woods. Perhaps it wasn’t his myriad of health problems that held Emerson back from getting adopted. There was something else that made him a “special needs” puppy.

He Appeared On TV So Someone Would Want Him

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NFR Maine/Facebook
NFR Maine/Facebook

As he was healing, NFR Maine made a strong effort to find Emerson his new forever home. The volunteers even appeared on local television to state his case and what they said pulled at many viewers’ heartstrings.

“Emerson had a pretty rough start to life… [He] was having seizures, we weren’t sure why. He was hospitalized and developed Parvo. And they do believe he is deaf and maybe visually impaired,” volunteers shared on the TV 5 Morning Show in Maine.

Emerson Had No Hearing, But A Lot Of Heart

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NFR Maine/Facebook
NFR Maine/Facebook

So not only did this little guy suffer from a leg deformity, seizures, and Parvo within ten weeks of his life, he was also deaf (and possibly blind) for a majority of that time. That didn’t keep Emerson from being a happy dog though.

“Once we got him from the vet’s office from Florida, we realized he had hearing difficulties. He doesn’t let it bother him at all though, he’s a typical puppy,” volunteer Lindsay Powers told Good Morning America.

Emerson Had Fun Despite His Health

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NFR Maine/Facebook
NFR Maine/Facebook

Veterinarians and volunteers weren’t sure how Emerson came to be deaf either. “It is unknown if I was born deaf or if it was from the seizures,” Powers shared on Facebook on behalf of Emerson.

“What IS known is that a lack of being able to hear doesn’t keep me down!” Emerson likely wasn’t blind and despite being unable to hear, he enjoyed going on shopping trips, car rides, and playing with the kids in his foster family.

They Thought People Didn’t Want Him

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NFR Maine/Facebook
NFR Maine/Facebook

Despite Emerson’s “happy-go-lucky” nature, NFR Maine couldn’t find any takers when it came to his adoption. With all of his siblings gone, they believed it was Emerson’s disclaimers that were holding him back.

Emerson was 12 weeks old and still looking for his forever home. “My Foster mom thinks that’s because people see that I’m deaf, and that makes people nervous but she wants everyone to know that being deaf is the LEAST of my worries!” Powers wrote on Facebook.

His Foster Mom Posted A Public Plea

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NFR Maine/Facebook
NFR Maine/Facebook

While fostering Emerson, NFR volunteer Lindsay Powers simply couldn’t understand why this little guy had a hard time finding someone to adopt him. She even shared his story and some adorable photos of him on Facebook.

“‘My foster mom says she pictures me with someone that loves to be outside doing things like camping and going on adventures! I do really well on a leash and respond to vibrations if you need to get my attention,” she wrote.

He Was Becoming A Local Celebrity

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NFR Maine/Facebook
NFR Maine/Facebook

Soon, many of the locals in Maine gained wind of Emerson’s story. “We had so many people ask about him! (He was getting to be a one name celebrity around these parts!),” NFR Maine shared on their Facebook page.

But despite the fact that many people knew Emerson was still looking for someone to adopt him, NFR Maine still had trouble finding his perfect forever home. After all, Emerson was unlike most dogs.

Someone With A Special Connection

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nickandemerson/Instagram
nickandemerson/Instagram

Finally, Emerson’s saving grace came in the form of Nick Abbott. Some might say it was destiny that Abbott expressed interest in Emerson. He contacted NFR Maine about Emerson, telling them that he might understand Emerson better than other potential new owners.

“Right off the bat, he said, ‘I’m deaf also and I feel like we’d have a good connection,'” Powers told Good Morning America. Thinking that she found the one, Powers processed Abbott’s adoption application within a day.

Could It Be A Perfect Match?

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Lindsay Powers/Facebook
Lindsay Powers/Facebook

Nick Abbott heard about Emerson after seeing a post on his Facebook feed. “I was born deaf. I said- Oh, he’s deaf too… Maybe I can go check him out to see what he’s all about,” Abbott told CBS-affiliate WABI-TV.

There couldn’t have been a more perfect match for Emerson. Not only was someone willing and ready to take care of the puppy, but they would also share a special bond between the two of them.

Emerson ‘Picked’ His New Owner

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NFR Maine/Facebook
NFR Maine/Facebook

A couple of days later, Abbott was on his way to meet Emerson for the first time. When Abbott first arrived at Emerson’s foster home, it was as if the stars had aligned right then and there.

“He came straight to me at the door and sat right away at my feet and stayed there. So you can tell he kind of picked me,” Abbott said with a smile. Emerson had finally found the perfect new owner.

Emerson Still Had A Lot To Learn

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nickandemerson/Instagram
nickandemerson/Instagram

The fact that Emerson walked right up to Abbott the moment he saw him was a sure sign that the two of them were meant to be in each other’s lives. “I knew right then and there that we would get along and understand each other pretty good,” Abbott told WABI-TV.

Now that Emerson had found the perfect forever home with Abbott, he lives as one of the happiest puppies in Maine. But there was still a learning curve for this pup.

Learning His Tricks With Sign Language

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NFR Maine/Facebook
NFR Maine/Facebook

Since the two have found each other, Abbott has begun teaching Emerson sign language. Just because he has a disability, doesn’t mean that his life would be different than other puppies. After all, he was at the prime age to learn some basic commands and neat tricks.

Though Abbott says that Emerson can respond to certain tones and pitches, sign language allows him to better communicate with his new dog.

So Far He Can Sit And Lie Down

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nickandemerson/Instagram
nickandemerson/Instagram

So far, Emerson can sit and lie down on command. Of course, he does this using the visual cues of sign language. To tell Emerson to sit, Abbott signs the letter ‘s’ in sign language. It was one trick that Emerson had down to a tee.

For “lie down,” Abbott sweeps his hand across in a straight line. Emerson performed the command effortlessly for the first time when WABI-TV came to interview Abbott.

It Was Meant To Be

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nickandemerson/Instagram
nickandemerson/Instagram

After all that he had gone through in the first three months of his life, Emerson finally got the fairy-tale ending he deserved. His disability may have held him back before but it brought him closer to just the right person. Emerson now embarks on his happy new life with his best friend Nick Abbott.

“The bond that we have is awesome. We understand each other very well. I’d like to think it was meant to be. He’s special,” Abbott said.