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Snopes on Reggie the Dog


I knew the previous post on Reggie the Dog was fictitious when I posted it. It is a great story regardless…. even more so as evidenced by the way Snopes treats it. They are usually none too kind.

From Snopes…

Origins: Those who serve with the U.S. armed forces often face difficult choices when they receive orders deploying them overseas. Not only do they have to prepared to be parted from their loved ones and make arrangements regarding the storage of personal possessions, but they may also face the problem of finding proper caretakers for their pets — not all of those serving in the military have people they can leave their beloved animal companions with. Some locate appropriate foster families that will care for their pets until their return, some give up their critters for adoption at shelters, and some may even (as a last resort ) turn them loose to fend for themselves.

(There are services that will assist those departing for overseas duty with the process of finding good temporary homes for their pets. Both “Operation Noble Foster” and NetPets.org’s “Military Pets Foster Project” are recommended by the U.S. Department of Defense. If you’re looking for a way to help those who are serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan and have room in your life for an extra cat or dog for the duration of someone’s tour of duty, do consider opening your home to a military pet.)

While the Reggie the dog tale  began hitting our inbox in August 2009, our earliest online sighting of it dates to an August 2008 message board post. As to the core question of whether it’s a true story, accepting it as literally true requires the reader to believe in a chain of improbable circumstances: that a no-kill shelter would agree to indefinitely serve as an unpaid kennel service, that a dog owner would turn over his pet to the long-term (and possibly permanent) care of others without telling anyone its real name, and that a dog’s adoptive owner would accept a “sealed letter from his previous owner” and simply toss it aside without bothering to open or read it. This string of contrivances smacks more of a fictional plot device than a literal account of a real-life occurrence.

Moreover, none of the verifiable details checks out as given in the narrative. Many different web sites record and honor the names of all U.S. service personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we could find no one by the name of Paul Mallory listed among the casualties on any of them (including the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count’s iCasualties.org and the Washington Post’s Faces of the Fallen), nor could we turn up any confirmatory news account of the death of a U.S. serviceman named Paul Mallory.

Even if we proceed on the assumption that “Paul Mallory” is a pseudonym, the details still don’t check out. The narrative describes Reggie’s original owner as having posthumously received the Silver Star after being killed in Iraq, as having never been married, and as having no living parents, siblings, or other relatives with whom he could have left his dog while he was deployed overseas. We meticulously checked the Silver Star database at the HomeofHeroes.com web site and located obituaries for every single U.S. service member (from all four branches) who was listed there as having posthumously received that award in connection with his service in Iraq, and every single such recipient was described in his obituary as having left behind some combination of parents, siblings, wives, and children — not one of those fallen heroes was unmarried with no living parents or siblings.

However, that the story may not be literal truth doesn’t prevent it from being figurative truth. Those who serve overseas do so at the cost of great personal sacrifice. A tale such as this — literal truth or not — serves to remind us all of how much they give and how much we owe them.

Barbara “tanks for the reminder” Mikkelson

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Snopes on Reggie the Dog, 8.9 out of 10 based on 7 ratings
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