Thursday, January 10, 2008

Remembering

Rex, 1971







It is raining again today. Not a spritz or drizzle in which you can go about your business with the inconvenience of misted glasses and uncooperative hair. This is yet another steady you-couldn't-possibly-think-of-walking-dogs-in-this-hard-rain kind of day. It is a definite improvement over the tornadoes of Tuesday, but lordy it has rained this miserable winter. Enough.

I enjoyed reading a fellow dog blogger's delightful post about the dogs of her past. (Her blog is The Lurchers. It's wonderful - go have a read.) It inspired me to reminisce about mine. Actually I am so senile that I thought this was a wonderful original idea that just popped into my brain, until I got started and the memory bulb finally lit.

When I was ten, my mother drew me aside and whispered, "Your father has said we may get a dog." This was not "may" as in might possibly, but was "may" as in have permission to. Twice as a young girl I cried tears of joy. This was the second time. I vividly remember standing in our dining room, in my mother's arms, weeping tears too big and too old for my face. After years of wishing, we were going to get a dog.

The next day, when I got home from school, there was Rex. My father had driven to the Baltimore City Pound and looked for a dog who reminded him the most of a childhood dog of his. He had named his childhood dog Napoleon, and had suffered mightily for it in the form of unrelenting teasing from his peers. So our dog would be Rex. Though miffed at the time, I'm now sure it was a kindness. My most precious stuffed animal was named Horsey, my parakeet was Birdie, and our cats had been Stripey and Blackie. Perhaps that explains my current whippets' names: Giacomino, Fat Charlie, Mama Pajama, Swede William. Nowadays, three syllables is the minimum, and the dogs enjoy a wealth of letters to call their own.


My two older sisters were both away at boarding schools, so Rex was my constant companion. We did not have to share each other's attention. He was a marvellous confusion of breeds. About twenty-five pounds of good humor and a serious hunter. Rex would not approach a human without a gift, so he nearly always had a leaf in his mouth. He would proffer it up, and then accept it back, smiling and wagging at this canine form of hand shaking good will. If we were indoors, it would be a napkin or a scrap of paper, but he always had something to give. If he had been out on a hunting jag, his gift usually took the form of a very dead and abused ground hog cadaver, no matter that dragging the thing home was as big an effort as the battle had been. Rex was a generous provider.


About a year after Rex's arrival we had a dinner party. Our neighbor had gone with my father into Baltimore and returned with a bushel of oysters. Much ado was made about the shucking of these oysters, with both men claiming expertise, and both ending up with numerous cuts and gouges in their hands, proving otherwise. Oysters Rockefeller were the first course. Our neighbor's youngest son, Sandy, was my best friend, and sat across the table. He would have preferred to skip this first course entirely, but his parents insisted that he try one oyster. Sandy was an adventurous and slightly mischievous character. But to my surprise, his appetizer plate soon contained only a shell, though he politely declined seconds. (During the bloody preparation of the salty mollusks, Sandy had promised me that no matter what the punishment, he was not letting one of those disgusting blobs of snot pass his lips.) And there was his empty oyster shell, without a word of protest.

After the guests had left I was helping my mother with the kitchen clean up. Rex was marching around, cheering us on, tail and head up, proud as ever of the gift he carried. Because of the Nazi-like enforcement of table manners rules in our house, Rex had never tasted a crumb from a table, nor had he licked a plate. But he was peculiarly intent on sharing this particular gift, and kept trying to interrupt the dish washing. Finally, in exasperation, my mother said, "Patience, see what Rex has this time."


I dried my hands and turned to Rex. "What do you have for me, buddy?"


The normal, expected rules of Rex's giving game were to receive the gift, hold it up and exclaim, "Oh thank you, Rex, this is the best leaf/napkin/rubber band ever. Here you go!" and give it back. I did not play by the rules this time.


I held out my hand and Rex, just bursting with pride gave me his gift.


I screamed and dropped the thing on the kitchen linoleum. What in God's green Earth?


It was Sandy's oyster.


Sandy had surreptitiously passed it off to the dog under cover of tablecloth. Rex had been overwhelmed with gratitude and was overcome with superbia at this unaccustomed blessing. For an hour and a half he had been holding this treasure, thrilled beyond measure. Yet, he was so generous of nature that he gave it without hesitation to me.


The hurt in the dog's eyes, caused by my so inappropriately callous response quickly spread to his whole being. His proud tail drooped, his ears fell, and his head ducked below his knees. I feared that he might just die, right on the spot, his lifeless body landing in a lump on the famous oyster on the kitchen floor.


My mother saved the day. "Oh Rex!" she exclaimed. "What a treasure! What a good dog! Thank you so much!" she cried, her own tears of laughter rolling down her cheeks. She scooped up the scorned shellfish and grabbed a paper doily from the dessert plate to return to Rex. The sweet dog immediately regained his self esteem, and true to his nature he bore me no grudge.


We laughed about that oyster for years. And that night, I let Rex sleep in my bed. It was my only way to apologize, and I would have been severely punished if my father ever found out. But Rex cheerfully let me feel as though no forgiveness was needed.


What a great little dog he was.







Hug your hounds.


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Our blogging friends, the Wrigglebutts generously gave us a very sweet award!!








Hmmm. We will pass it on to Graham and Tilly and Joker and Phoebe the lurchers,

both of whom keep wonderful blogs that I think my dear readers would enjoy. Thank you, Wrigglebutts!

------------------------------------------------------------------------

It is a banner day! We have received another award from the whippets' dear wirey friend, Koobusssss!


"The award is awarded to 'people whose blog brings you happiness & inspiration and makes you feel happy about Blogland.The 'rules' of this award say we may nominate up to 10 bloggers who make our day." Be sure to notify them.

Thank you Koobuss! We feel happy and are excited that you thought of us! Ten bloggers, huh? OK, here goes:

  1. Bill (he will get all flustered and not know what to do)
  2. Kandinski and Aynex (that's a CAT!! Are you KIDDING???)
  3. Linda and Maisie (to help her broken toe heal faster and she's part whippet)
  4. Bizzy and Furgirl (because it's true)
  5. Jake and Just Harry (and their human who made my day)
  6. Vee and the boys (so you can see her awesome art and Lindy's brother Nearly)
  7. The WriggleButts (because we love her amazing photos and Nimbus)
  8. Gus the wirey boy (who made up a new song every day in December!)
  9. Joe Stains' ma (who shares recipes that are fantastically stupendous) and
  10. Mary T (because I can't figure out my day without her blog and it's her fault I have a blog!)




23 comments:

  1. What a wonderful, beautiful disposition Rex had. It just goes to show you can think you have the best dog in the world but there are so many of them. Still I wouldn't have minded a clone of Rex!

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  2. I suspect not everyone would have grasped that Rex was a great communicator and generous giver. How clever of you at such an early age -- and of your mother too -- to have realized what he was saying and what he needed to be happy and whole!

    I loved the tale. But then, I also adore oysters Rockefeller. And, Patience, secrets revealed, we come from similar places, for I grew up in Philadelphia, Baltimore's next-of-kin. Do you like Anne Tyler?

    Joan by permission of Jake and Just Harry

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  3. What a great story...and what a handsome boy Rex was. The oyster bit is hysterical and so sweet!

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  4. I love Anne Tyler! Love her. If I had half of her talent...

    Bill and I met in Wilmington, DE and our first date was in Philadelphia. It was magical as Bill showed me 'his' city. He went to medical school at Jefferson. There's lots of Philly art on his website www.renzulliart.com.

    thanks for the comment-
    P

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  5. You always tell the best stories!

    Love ya lots,
    Maggie and Mitch

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  6. Thank you for the award. Muzzer is gonna b e mightt bysy when she gets home. Sorry about the spellling, but Teka acnat ctyep.

    gussie

    psx muszer willllllll love your storyw!

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  7. What a great story, I can't believe good old rex didnt just swallow that fishy treat! I sure don't consider myself to be that generous, I would have gobbled it down!!

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  8. Thank you so much for the award!! I have really enjoyed doing the food blog and I find it makes me cook a lot more which has always been a goal of mine!

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  9. Patience, I am so glad that I inspired you to write that blog. It was lovely to read and cheered me up no end on a wet miserable morning here!

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  10. Rex is cute. congratulations on the awards.

    Luv,
    Snowball

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  11. Yay! Thanks so much for the award, Patience! I'm honored -- and YOUR blog inspires MY blog!

    xoxoxomt

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  12. Medical school at Jeff? Our grandpa-- now 96 and retired -- went to med school at Jeff. And Mom was born at Jeff. Wowser!!

    We've been to Bill's awesome site, but shall return to take a second look.

    Thank you for the award! We are honored that we two "hairy dogs" can add to the joys of nine sleek whippets and their servant.

    Have you read "Digging to America?"

    Jake and JH

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  13. Oh my...in my fugue state of late, I totally missed the award! Thank you, Miss Patience...and Maisie says thank you too! We feel the same way about YOU and the sterling nine!:)

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  14. Thank you for another great story and congrats for the award! We are looking forward to reading about your second ever agility trial - I'm sure it'll be fine and that you will have a lot of fun :)

    Thank you again for the collar, it's so beautiful we decided Xsara will wear it for special occasions.

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  15. Hey thanks for the award girlfriend.

    Vee

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  16. Thank you so much for sharing that storie.

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  17. Oh Patience
    What a bootiful memowy of a fabulous loving Rex!!!!no wondew you have loved all dogs since!
    You wewe lucky to have him in youw life and he to be with such a wondewful little giwl.
    I have an awawd fow you too please come and pick it up
    my love to you and smoochie kisses to my dawling whippets
    Asta

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  18. Thanks for sharing this story of Rex. Sure he was a wonderful dog!
    Congratulations on your awards!
    Kisses and hugs
    Lorenza

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  19. I stumbled upon your blog this evening. I work in Paducah and live outside of Melber, Ky. I have recently been reading some dog blogs as I have 2 boxers and I find such humor in all of the comments and such. So nice to meet you. I have saved your site on my favorites!

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  20. Sweetie Whippets
    You awe vewy welcome and vewy desewving..hope the tweats you got weew good too..Mommi thwows like a silly giwl..it's lucky if she doesn't knock things off tables,hehehe but she twies and that's what counts..I love hew
    smoochie kisses
    Asta

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  21. Rex sounds very much like Marvin.

    That was a wonderful tale about him Patience, really enjoyed reading it. I love your way with words.

    I could almost see Rex at the end, where he was so dismayed at your reaction!

    Pop by Marvin's blog when you get a moment, we have awarded you The Thinking Blogger Award.

    Your Blog makes us think!

    Off to hug my hound, now!

    love and light, Jeannie xxxx

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  22. Love the cooking blog! Really interesting recipes. I will keep checking it out!

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