Remember the song, Old Shep, sung by Red Foley? When I hear it, I don’t just tear up; I bawl like a baby. Give a listen for a good cry.

The reason I cry is old Shep reminds me of my childhood dog. Rex was just a tiny ball of fur when he became a member of our family. He was the family dog, but Rex was my dog! Poor Rex became a member in name only for a long time. My mother took an instant dislike to Rex and would not let him inside the house.

He was not allowed in the house even in the dead of winter! Our Stepdad pleaded and finally got Poor Rex a place behind the stove on the worst cold nights. Nights in Maine could get below freezing.

We lived in one half of a big run-down mansion behind the stores in the little town of Dexter, Maine. The name of the road to our mansion was “Middlesex Ave,” no kidding, and it was located in an alley behind the stores. The back nearly touched the steep hill, on top of which the train traveled twice daily. Living behind the stores was a great place to have imaginary adventures. It was a treasure trove of things the merchants were discarding, and we confiscated. We had houses fashioned out of Refrigerator boxes. On one side of the “Duplex” was an abandoned business building supposedly locked. Not! On the other side was a big field.

We used to think if you placed a penny on the track, it would derail the train, but it only flattened it. We never thought if our pennies actually derailed the train, it would land on our house!  

My Stepdad believed if you paid for your dog, it would be a good dog. The person giving the dog away had to accept a dollar.

Rex’s breed was Dawg! He had Light Brown, long wavy hair, big brown eyes, and was tall and incredibly strong. 

We begged to have him inside; we were sure he would freeze. Mom declared 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 in the attached shed. 

When Lloyd (Stepdad) came home from working on the railroad and saw all our sad faces, he went to bat for us. 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, “He stays behind the stove; if he comes out, he goes out.”  So we got him in for several nights while it was below-freezing. We were thrilled! If Mom had let us, we would have slept there with him.

Rex was with us for many years, and I remember many wonderful things about him. He was so big that his back would scrape on the underside of the table on the very few times he was allowed in, probably when Mom wasn’t home. 

Everyone loved him, and he traveled all over town when we were in school. All the store merchants loved him and gave him scraps; he would come home with a bone nearly every day, which was good as he only got table scraps. 

He was a big, friendly dog, and we never gave it a thought about him defending us. We kinda thought of him as “The Cowardly Lion like in the Wizard of Oz.”  No matter, we loved him anyway. Mom would make my older brothers take me along to the swimming hole. They hated it, and I suspect me, too! There were no lifeguards or adults to watch us, and I couldn’t swim a stroke. My two brothers were not a lot older than me. They were supposed to take care of me! There were two places to go swimming: one was a beach, and the other was “the old swimming hole,” The boys always wanted to go to the latter, so they could dive off the rocks into the deep water.

I remember the day the boys were diving in and having a great time; I was sitting on the ledge crying because I wanted to go to the beach. They refused to take me to the beach so I could play in the water. They finally had enough of my crying and told me,  “Jump in, or we will throw you in!”  They promised to save me if I couldn’t swim enough to get to the shallow place to climb out. I was getting up enough courage to jump when they pushed me in. I tread water and dog paddled, screaming for help! They laughed as they yelled, “Sink or swim!”  Panicked, I drank a gallon of water! Suddenly, out of nowhere, Rex came to my rescue, swimming to me so I could grab his tail and pull me to shore. I, of course, never told Mom how kind they were to me.

On the way to and from the lake, we had to go by the store renting boats. Sometimes, the mean dog would chase us all the way by his property. We were terrified, and the owner thought it was funny seeing us run for our lives. Rex usually ran ahead of us, but one day, when the dog came charging, barking and snarling, Rex growled and charged the dog. He put the dog back in his yard cowering, and it never came back out barking at us again. I swear Rex smiled, walked taller, and puffed his chest out as he marched us home.

I was 8 years old when I was admitted to the hospital for an emergency appendicectomy. After two boring weeks flat on my back, I was finally released. I missed many school days, but I had my buddy to play with and was happy. It snowed, and Mom allowed me to go out and play “As long as I did not attempt to slide on my belly on a sled!”  I put the sled rope in Rex’s mouth, and he pulled me around the yard for hours. He was my hero that day and forever!

I remember the sad day Rex came crawling home after he was hit by a car. The Vet said there was nothing he could do for him. I begged and pleaded to hold him when he passed because I knew the Vet would give him a shot to put him to sleep forever. Lloyd didn’t think I should see him die. I was sent away, but I watched from a hiding place as the Vet gave him the shot, and Rex, my buddy, my hero, went to sleep forever. There was never another REXdog like Rex for me.

Published by Time Traveler of Life

Biography Creating worlds, characters, and wielding power like a madwoman, making my characters happy, sad, angry, and some of them with no redeeming qualities. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I sometimes laugh out loud when I am writing a scene, and I have been known to cry when one of my favorites has to die. I am a left-handed Gemini, what do you expect? Reading bedtime stories to my two children until they fell asleep or until they just told me to go away, was fun. Making up wild stories for my grandchild, and creating Halloween costumes from Cowboys to a Dragon, was another favorite thing to do. I missed that so much when they were grown, that I started writing. My yearly newsletters frequently were drafted third-person by my Love Birds, Miranda our motorhome, and by Sir Fit the White Knight, our faithful Honda. Throughout the years, some of my creative talents centered around writing letters of complaint expressing my displeasure with services or products. One crucial, at least to my Son, was a note to our local school bus driver petitioning her to allow him back on the bus. He was kicked off for making an obscene gesture at his buddy. I reminded her that it was not directed at her, and that “obscenity can be in the eye of the beholder,” kids use that gesture as a greeting. He rode the bus until he graduated. I loved driving my English teacher crazy. Leaving a “continued next week” at the end of my five handwritten pages required each week. He was one of many people that suggested I “do something about my writing.” I graduated from the School of Hard Knocks at the top of my class. After 30 years, in the trenches as a Real Estate Professional, I have found that truth is stranger than fiction. My books are filled with characters I met in that profession. Their names were changed to protect the guilty. Others were from people we met traveling around the country in Miranda, our Motorhome. I am married nearly 60 years to the love of my life, Shirl, and partner-produced two exceptionally talented children, and one grandchild who is our pride and joy.

2 thoughts on “REX

  1. This is touching ❤️It’s incredible how our four-legged companions can leave such lasting impressions on our lives. I know Rex will always hold a special place in your heart, as he does in your memories.

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