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The Story of Rex

Posted by siyerwin on Thursday, November 22, 2007 at 10:01 PM

Below is a wonderful account of Alya B. Honasan, a tireless PAWS supporter, about how she met a dog named Rex who, with a wag of his tail, teaches her a most beautiful lesson. She's looking for a good home for Rex but I'm not alone in thinking that Rex had Alya at "hello". :) Get a box of Kleenex before proceeding.

Photos and text reposted from http://bananamama.blogspot.com

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Rex the Dog

WHAT really got me was, he wagged his tail.

I had gone to the PAWS shelter last November 1, All Saints' Day, to light a candle on Muffin's memorial plaque and check out the little asPins, maybe to find a baby sister to bring home to Banana by Christmas. Then Anna Cabrera of PAWS took me to see the Labrador that the Animal Kingdom Foundation had referred to them for rescue and I found myself growing weak in the knees once again in the face man's profound cruelty to the creatures who least deserve it.

It was supposed to be a day for the dead, and I actually thought the dog would soon be among them. Call me nuts, but I found myself in indignant tears, and immediately praying to the high heavens that whoever did this to him would one day die a slow, painful death and barbecue in hell. The dog was a smelly, patchy bag of bones with a whole torso of prominent ribs and open wounds all over his head. The skin around his feet were swollen and wrinkled like a sharpe's, but definitely not as appealing. His hair was almost gone, and he was so absolutely caked in mange, I cringed. He threw up some yellow liquid even as Anna and I watched him. And then, he turned his brown eyes to us—and wagged his tail. Not a weak, tentative wiggle, but a wag as vigorous as his weak body could muster, which wasn't bad at all. Foolish little angel, I thought. Don't you know by now that people are evil, and we can be such bad news, and that we really don't deserve you? Apparently, he hadn't heard.

I couldn't get the dog out of mind over that weekend, and made a deal with Anna that, if things were too busy at the shelter that coming Monday, then she should have him taken to Vets in Practice, and I would pay for his treatment. I mentioned the dog to my friends Ame and Joy that weekend, and they volunteered to share in the expenses, so I was further emboldened. Anna and I had a frank discussion—if he was seriously ill, and it would cost too much to save him, and the money could actually save five other dogs, then I would leave it to her to decide if he had to go.

Come Monday, November 5, Anna called me as she and Liza brought the dog to VIP. On the phone. Dr. Nielsen Donato revealed that what we thought was a chocolate lab—yes, he was that filthy—was actually black, and that he hadn't been carried, but he had actually BOUNDED up the stairs to the clinic. "He's got the spirit," Dr. Nick Carpio said. "I've seen a lot worse. This guy wants to live." And soon, we had christened the dog Rex, for resurrection. I resolved then and there that I was going to try my darnedest to give this dog a second life.

I went to see Rex that same Monday after yoga class, and he had gotten his first bath in what may have been weeks. He was skinny, but still wagging his tail and immediately burrowing his head in my hands. He went for the food bowl with serious focus. We were in business.

Over the next few days, we learned that the swollen appendages were nothing malignant, just a major tick infestation. Rex had bad mange, but no heartworm, and his organs were functioning well. It was simply malnutrition and neglect, and so far, he was fine.

I had tried to keep some distance, asking Anna to find him a foster home and assuming he would go home to the PAWS shelter after discharge. But somehow, I couldn't do it. It's an ego thing, I will admit, whatever messianic complex I have coming into self-righteous overdrive. I want to take this dog, nurse him back to health, and make him beautiful and happy again as one big, reverberating "F-CK YOU" to every damned soul who has ever hurt a dog. Maybe I can't single-handedly stop the dog meat traffic, or save every dog who's been kicked or beaten or thrown into a dog fight, or keep flaky idiots from buying cute pups and locking them away when they prove too much too handle. But like I told Anna, I have to stay a little myopic here, or my heart will keep breaking. I have to look at just this dog first, and do my bit, one dog at a time.

So, I am writing this November 18, 13 days after we took Rex to VIP and a week since I brought him home. God does keep watch; I prayed hard to Him and St. Francis, patron of the animals, to make Rex's homecoming easy. Now I have my brother's support, and some house help to walk him and feed him when I'm not home. We've built a little cage for him, and he curls up in it contentedly when we put him back in after a short poo break. Even the other dogs, Larry the alpha black Lab and Ruffa the grandmother Dalmatian, seem to have accepted him.

And my darling Banana? As I've always known, my baby has a good and kind heart. There has been no jealousy, no tantrums, no aggression. I thank God she's so secure in her love, she doesn't mind sharing Mama's attention, even for a while.
Now, Rex shoves his wet, drooling, still mangy face in my hands whenever he sees me, and rubs his body against my leg. I gave him his first mange bath outside the clinic the other day, and the sponge came away black—but I'm seeing more of his skin everyday. Most of his wounds have dried up, although I see some fresh ones when thick encrustations of skin fall away. Even his tail is skinny! But he's gotten more meat on his bones, he doesn't stink anymore, and I'm seeing patches of his thick black hair growing back. We're going back to VIP on Saturday for a check-up.

I am humbled by the joy Rex shows, even after everything he has gone through. To paraphrase Neruda, oh, how many times I have wanted to have a tail—how I envy his open spirit and his freedom from anger. Someday, I hope I can learn to forgive whoever did this to Rex, just as he apparently has. How much better would this world be if every person had a heart as big as a dog's? How perfect would it be if we could shake off bitterness like water, like a Lab does after a swim, with such vigor and determination? What a gift indeed.

My friends are already kidding me that Rex is mine. I like to think he always will be, in a way. And if nobody takes him and is willing to take care of him with the special care that this miracle dog deserves, then I AM keeping him. But I live with an 83-year-old mom, and Banana had to learn to walk gently around her so she doesn't knock her over; you know how Labradors are like small, panting freight trains when they careen towards you. If Rex stays with me, he will be walked, fed, loved, and taken care of. He will live in a kennel during the day, and when he's well enough, have the run of my garage with Larry and Ruffa for the late afternoons and evenings. But I can't bring him indoors like Banana.

Here's the deal: If you, my friend, or anybody you KNOW WELL wants him, and if you want to take him indoors and give him a really good, cushy life, then he's yours. I mean a life indoors with you and your family, occasional car trips, walks to any nearby patch of green—he's a Lab, he'll be the gentlest, most playful thing on earth, and he deserves some fun and a bigger world than the one he's had to live in.

The bad news is, they estimate him to be about 3 years old, and the fact is, this kind of malnutrition usually has some permanent damage, so there is a possibility that he may develop problems in the future, despite everything we're doing now—multivitamins, mange medicine, antibiotics, etc. The good news is, he's an extraordinary dog with a second life, and I am only going to turn him over when he's healthy and fully recovered again. But please assure me that you're committed, because you've going to have to answer to me!

So there. Just letting you know my latest canine adventure, and if there is somebody out there who really wants him and can give him a better life than I can—I pray that St. Francis leads you to each other, and I will know that my part in Rex's journey will have been fulfilled. I believe in fate; I'm still waiting to learn if I'm just a stopover, or the final destination in this dog's life. Either way, it's been a privilege. It hasn't been easy, but hey—gifts come in different packages.

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  1. 7 comments: Responses to “ The Story of Rex ”

  2. By ususera on Nov 23, 2007, 3:37:00 PM

    i posted this in multiply to spread more awareness on animal crulety and paws. thanks for sharing this.

  3. By siyerwin on Nov 23, 2007, 3:52:00 PM

    No problem, ususera. Thanks!

  4. By angela on Nov 25, 2007, 9:52:00 PM

    people capable of doing such cruelty to animals should be horsewhipped. Have linked your site to my blog. Hope one of those who visit my blog may be able to help by adopting. If only my house were a bit bigger i would, kaya lang at the moment my baby Soda who's a lab retriever and is as rambunctious as they come takes up most of the space already (she's our boss).

  5. By siyerwin on Nov 25, 2007, 10:59:00 PM

    hi, angela. part of me thinks getting horsewhipped is getting off easy for those guys. but that's just me. :)

    thanks for finding this site. that in itself is a huge thing for me and a validation that we can really reach out to other animal lovers out there through blogging. keep on blogging and give my regards to Soda. :)

    Thank you for linking.

  6. By babybranny on Nov 27, 2007, 1:48:00 PM

    alya has such a big heart :). lucky rexy! :)

  7. By mela on Sep 30, 2008, 1:04:00 PM

    i'm thinking of getting rex. but i still have to check on the parents. after all, i already have five dogs at home. i almost live in a farm, complete with around 20 chickens, rabbits, a belgian malinois, 2 aspins, 1 maltipoo, 1 maltese, a turtle. There's plenty of open space to run around for Rex and I really do wanna get him, but i just wanna make sure mom and dad would agree. we just adopted the aspin a couple of months back from the streets. i hope mom and dad would agree. please email me at mela(at)jobstreet.com on the procedure. and i'll get back to you hopefully with a favorable response.

  8. By Anonymous on Oct 16, 2008, 9:39:00 AM

    Rex is so lucky to have Alya.God bless you more.So that wiyh more blessing the more animals will be bless too.I love to have Rex.I was so touch.But i already have 17 dogs.But if God permits I still want more.Because before i have 23 dogs.To all of us animal lovers God bless us more.

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Please do not leave your email or contact numbers in the comments. Email me directly at sherwin @ mefindhome.org if you have concerns or questions. This blog is increasingly attracting breeders/pet sellers trying to advertise their business through the comments and I don't want that. The blog seems to also be becoming a bulletin board of sorts for people who wish to abandon their pets. Blogger.com allows no way to edit your comments so there I have no other option but to delete comments that I deem inappropriate in this regard. I apologize for the inconvenience. Again, if you have any questions/concerns, better to email me at sherwin @ mefindhome.org than to comment here. Thank you very much!

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