Rex is my brother’s dog; an 8 year old Rhodesian ridgeback, and a beautiful specimen of the breed. He is as big as, if not bigger than, any Great Dane, but pure muscle. Always the alpha male, particularly when it came to his sister, Mia; but, Rex is a lover, not a fighter. He definitely let his size be known if another dog tried to claim alpha-male status, but anything more I think was out of character for him, maybe simply because his muscular stature was enough. It has been said that another dog challenged him at doggy day care long ago. Rex took up a proud stance and let out a giant woof, which was enough to silence the other dog for good.
My brother used to take him to rattlesnake training. Rex just stood behind my brother the whole time. He didn’t want anything to do with the snakes. Unlike my dogs, which would probably be all over them, wondering what they were. How could they play with or kill these snakes? I’m sure Rex would still hunt lions though!
Every single time I came to visit, without fail, Rex would be at my driver’s side door waiting for me to get out of the car, always with uncontrollable excitement. My brother trained Rex diligently, and for the most part, had him well-controlled. He was very careful to make sure Rex stayed in line with guests. Rex had a special love for me though, and I for him. I think because after my nephew was born, I never faltered in giving Rex the attention he still needed and deserved. My brother was especially careful where Rex was concerned when I was going through treatment and with my surgeries. But I loved Rex’s limitless love for me. Nothing can compare to the love a dog gives.
After my nephew and sister-in-law, Rex is my brother’s pride and joy. My sister-in-law would say, “You know that’s his boy.” Rex would sit with my brother on his deck while he drank his coffee in the morning. He and Mia were my brother’s running partners and the dogs often spent time with the family on their wake-boarding boat.
About six months ago, Rex was diagnosed with cancer; a form of melanoma that was found in his dewclaw. The dewclaw and cancer were removed and my brother and sister-in-law decided they would do everything they could for him, aside from chemo and further surgeries, which they felt would diminish his quality of life.
My brother does not show his emotions, but when Rex was first diagnosed, he told me about it over the phone. He couldn’t say much and began to choke up. That was truly testament to his love for Rex.
This past Christmas, only a month ago, I gifted faux snowballs to my nephew and we all had a nice snowball fight, which Rex loved being a part of. Within a week a two after, the cancer had spread to his mouth. I went to visit him this past Friday night, knowing it would be the last time I’d spend with him.
Again, even though he hadn’t eaten in a week, true to form, one last time he came and met me at my driver’s side door. He wouldn’t walk on the grass though, only the driveway. I know he was glad to see me, but the excited Rex I knew was gone. However, he still managed to wag his tail from time to time throughout our visit.
The now huge, cancerous tumor bulged from inside his mouth and gave a very distinct and pungent smell of dead tissue. It stayed with me for days after our visit. It’s something you never forget.
I laid with Rex in my brother’s living room with his head gently resting on my lap. I remembered eight years earlier sitting in the same spot and laying his sleeping body over my lap when he was just a small puppy, about the size his head is now.
I stayed and had dinner with my brother, sister-in-law and nephew. When it came time to leave, I kissed and hugged Rex several times, knowing it was for the last time. He walked outside to the drive with my brother, as he always did to see me off. I intentionally backed out of my brother’s long, winding driveway so I could see Rex in my headlights as I left. He walked halfway up the drive as if not wanting me to leave. I cried the entire way home.
I love you, Rex! Thanks for loving me too!