We got Rex when he was a small pup and he became a member of our family, that is, to everyone except Mother! She would not let him come in side even in the dead of winter. There was none of that dog sleeping at the foot of our beds, or getting up on furniture or even playing inside. I don’t know was breed of dog Rex was, only that he had Light Brown long wavy hair. I remember one winter it was snowing and we lived in a drafty old house behind the stores in town. We begged to have him inside, we were sure he would freeze. She declared that he had fur and would not freeze. No amount of tears or begging by all of us moved her even a little bit! So out he stayed.
When Lloyd came home from working on the railroad, he saw all our sad faces and went to bat for us. I remember him saying “Now, Allie, look at their faces, can’t we just have Rex in for a little while to warm up”. Wow! She relented and said yes, with a Big But! She said “He stays behind the stove, if he comes out from there, he goes out”. So we got him in for several nights while it was below freezing. We were thrilled. I’ll tell you more about Lloyd later.
Rex was with us for many years, and he traveled all over town, when we were in school. All the store merchants loved him and used to give him scraps, he would come home with a bone nearly every day, which was a good thing as he only got table scraps. I remember so many wonderful things about him. He was so big that his back would scrape on the under-side of the table on the very few times he was allowed in, probably when Mom wasn’t home.
He was just a big friendly dog that we never gave it a thought about him defending us in any way. We kinda thought of him as “The Cowardly Lion like in the Wizard of Oz”. No matter we loved him anyway and he tagged along with us to the lake to go swimming. In those days Mom would make my older brothers take me along with them, even though I couldn’t swim much and they were not a lot older than me. Guess she figured, (wrongly) that they would take care of me! There were two places to go swimming, one was a beach and the other was “the old swimming hole” which was, were the boys wanted to go so they could dive in.
I remember this day very clearly! The boys were diving in and having a great time, I was setting on the ledge and crying as I wanted to go to the beach so I could go in swimming. They finally had enough of my crying and told me to jump in or they would throw me in, and they would save me if I couldn’t swim enough to get to the shallow place to climb out. As I was getting up enough courage to go in, sure enough they pushed me in. I could tread water and dog paddle a little. I cried for help! They said “Sink or swim”. I was panicked, and drank a lot of water trying to say on top, when out of nowhere, in jumped Rex and swam over to me so I could grab onto his tail and he pulled me in to shore.
On the way to and from the lake, by the store that rented boats, there was a mean dog that used to chase us all the way by his property and scared the bejesus out of us. Rex didn’t always go to the lake with us, but this day Rex was with us and when the dog came charging out barking and snarling, Rex’s hair stood up on his back and as he growled, he ran at the dog ready to do battle for us. He put the dog right back in his yard cowering and he never came back out barking at us again. I swear Rex smiled and puffed his chest out as he marched us home.
I remember another day when after he got hit by a car, he crawled home, and that the Vet said there was nothing he could do for him and even though I wasn’t allowed to be there for him, I watched from a hiding place as the Vet gave him a shot and Rex went to sleep for the last time.