A Soul Infused With Tank

One Horrible Trait (2 min. read)

Today I’ll start out by saying I’ve never felt more alive than I have with my buddy Tank. Just a year ago I was having anxiety attacks overtime I left my house, so I just stayed inside as much as I could. I couldn’t go out by myself because my mind would play tricks on me, causing me flashbacks that would send my mood spiraling out of control.

Since having my buddy around, I don’t get caught up in the unexpected anymore because he keeps me grounded. Now when I’m in public and I feel like overwhelmed all I have to do is reach down and pet Tank. His soft fur and baby brown eyes always grabs my attention and everything else seems to fade away.IMG_0312

I wish I could have Tank forever. Sadly, after three months of training I’ve found that he isn’t the right dog for the job, here’s why.

A week ago I had to go into my chiropractor office to get some work done. When we first got there, Tank was fine. I signed in and took a seat, Tank laid down next to me. When my doctor came around the corner and looked at me, Tank got upset and started growling at him. I told him to stop as I stood up to shake his hand.

After I was done on a back stretching machine, my doctor came into the dimly lit room and walked over to unstrap me. Tank started growling ferociously at him again. I pulled him close to me and held onto his collar so that the doctor could unstrap me because he wouldn’t quit. When I got up, I stood over to the side of the doctor. Tank went quite so I released his collar and held onto his leash, but within a second he lunged towards the doctor and nipped at him.

If my doctor wouldn’t have jumped back Tank would have taken a bit of his leg instead of his pants. I was in total shock with what happened and I apologized profusely. When we walked out of the office I didn’t want to look at Tank. I’ve never seen him act so violently towards someone.

Quite honestly I was scared; not of Tank, but for him. If he would have bitten my doctor he would be put down. Before this had happened, I didn’t think he could be so aggressive, he acts like a baby any other time, so what happened?

I talked with my trainer Lindsay and told her what happen. She let me know that I shouldn’t take him into public again until she can see his reaction. I want to say I listened to her, but I had appointments and shopping to do so I kept bringing him with me.

One day while I was at the VA hospital talking to one of my friends, Tank lunged at him when he was coming in to shake my hand. He put his jaws around his hand but didn’t bit down. Other than scaring my friend half to death, nothing serious happened. It was at that moment where I started to worry about bringing him anywhere.

I met up with Lindsay at the mall one evening so she could see what Tank does. She had her husband try to provoke Tank by walking by us. Tank didn’t react the first two times, but the third time when he walked up slowly behind me and started to place his hand on my shoulder, Tank went manic.

He started barking nonstop, lunging at her husband with everything he had. It took a lot for me to hold him back. Even after Lindsay walked up and introduced her husband to Tank, with treats, he still wouldn’t stop barking. I walked off with him to calm him down, but every person that passed us seemed to provoke a bad response out of him.

Lindsay didn’t like what she saw at all. It didn’t take long for her to make the vision to stop training him to be a service dog because this was the dog he really was. She said that our bond is so strong that he fells it necessary to be over protective of me.

“There was no way we could have known he would be like this” she  told me. Something inside of me shattered at hearing that. I thought for sure Tank was going to be with me forever, or at least until he passed on to doggy heaven. To think after months of training everything is over for us.IMG_0311

Lindsay explained to me that not every dog makes it through training. There is actually only a 40 percent pass rate for service dogs.

I have a lot to think over the next two weeks. I have to figure out if Tank will stay with us while I try to train another dog or am I going to give him up for adoption. It’s so hard to even think about him not being with us anymore. Tank is so intertwined with me and my family, he is loved beyond words. But, I need a service dog for the goals I want to accomplish.

I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. It’s caused quite a controversy in my household. It seems like every day since I told my family about the situation we start to argue about what we should do. My daughter was literally in tears over this. She even told me I don’t care about Tank.

If only she knew how much he meant to me. I’m already starting to feel a difference with him not next to me all the time.

I don’t know. I just don’t know anymore.

A Strong Bond

Not much has happened these past few days. The sleep study I went in for sucked so bad. At 830 that night they hooked me up to a wrist monitor with a heart lead and stuck me in a room with four other guys to sleep the night; two things that made me uncomfortable to start the night out. Plus, I had to sleep on a super hard hospital bed with I knew would irritate my back. I felt like my sleep was broken throughout the night because I kept waking up to my back crying out to me in pain with sweat pouring off my head. I don’t even know how I got any sleep that night. By the morning my back was stiff and sore.img_0271

At my appointment the next morning my doctor told me I tested negative for sleep apnea, but they want me back to check for restless feet syndrome to see if that is what causes me to wake up. The whole test made me upset. I woke up more during the night from other people making noise. I still had nightmares too, just like every night. The doctor said I got six and a half hours of sleep throughout the night and that was spot on with the recommended amount for a 33 year old.

Why am I so tired every day like I didn’t rest at all?I’m really getting sick of nodding off several times a day because I feel like I get no sleep. I wish someone could tell me something because I don’t feel safe driving anymore.

I felt so run down and hungry after the appointment that I thought I’d better treat myself to a good breakfast, so I stopped to eat at The Original Pancake House. The Banana praline crepes were so amazing; I can still taste the caramel on my tongue.

I drove over to my dog trainer Lindsay’s house to pick up Tank. As soon as I walked through the door he was all over me panting, rubbing his furry body across my legs, jumping up licking my face. The anger and frustration I was having for the VA slowly disappeared the more we interacted. It was just a distant thought by the time I was leaving with him. I guess we both missed each other. I feel a strong bond with Tank, like he is apart of me in some way.img_0270

It got bitter cold this weekend. It snowed from Saturday into Sunday afternoon. We all stayed inside most of the weekend playing games and watching television. I don’t think Tank likes to be inside all day, he kept coming over to me whimpering and looking outside.

After going outside with him a few times I think he realized that being outside during the winter in Minnesota is highly overrated, especially when there is a snow storm. I felt bad for him when he started limping on his paw after being outside for a minute. On our way back inside he started yelping out when he stepped down. I bet his paws were freezing, so I ordered him a pair of booties. I hope I get them soon so he doesn’t have to be in pain when relieving himself in the snow. I also ordered a bunch of different rawhide chews that I think he may like. I spoil him way too much, but I feel like it’s a mutual respect thing. He watches my back and helps take away some of my anxiety, I give him all the treats he likes.

Lindsay, Patti and Len from Project Delta came over tonight to check in with our family and also so Aleah and my wife could introduce themselves to Tank and finally get to pet him. They all were nervous at the start of it, especially Tank kept looking at me with his tail wagging swiftly across the ground to see if it was okay that they were petting him. He started calming down as soon as they both started giving him treats.

Aleah was super happy to finally get to pet him. Jessica was glowing with joy too. She doesn’t say it much, but I know she loves him. I’m glad they finally get to show him affection. I can tell Tank is in a better mood since he doesn’t have to walk around with the muzzle on anymore. He gets his vest in a few days and then we dive into public training, I can’t wait