I was born in 1983, which is going to make some of you feel old, and some of you feel young, and some of you will say, “Hell, yeah!” When I was the ripe old age of 14, a movie called Empire Records was released to pay respect to the small record stores. A relic which is near extinction now, sort of like Blockbuster. Gems such as, “I don’t feel that I need to explain my art to you, Warren,” “We mustn’t dwell… no, not today. We CAN’T. Not on Rex Manning day,” and “[into television camera] Damn the man. Save the Empire” became vernacular, well, at least in my circles.
About three months ago, I had just stepped out of my truck when Mom came to the door and hollered, “Is that Toby?” I looked up and saw a black blur running across mom’s yard. Confused, I explained that it couldn’t be because I hadn’t brought Toby with me. Toby is my Australian Shepherd, half Labrador Retriever mix that I’ve have for almost nine years. He’s my first child. I asked her to whistle for the dog, for I cannot whistle. The dog came without a moments hesitation smelling like the third cesspool of hell. I have never in my life smelled anything so foul, before or since.
My mom and I had debated on what to do with him. On one hand if we let him loose there was the very real chance he’d get hit by a car or a train. My mom lived next to a very busy thoroughfare as well as the train tracks. My conscience wouldn’t allow me to turn him loose to turn into street patê, so we called the dog warden. The warden’s office explained that he was done for the day and that we could either turn the dog loose or hold onto him until tomorrow, which also posed a problem. My mom works out of her house and it wasn’t feasible to leave him there. We had taken an old belt and fashioned a leash out of it because I didn’t happen to have one of Toby’s leases at the moment. I gave the dog a bath in the water hose (thankfully it was warm that day) and ran home to get an old tie out that we had used when Toby was a puppy, but the dog barked and barked. I had started calling the dog Rex Manning to give me something to call him. Both Rex Manning the human and Rex Manning the dog were kinda obnoxious and contemptible. After I named him, my mom knew it was a done deal, he was mine.
I realize that he had an owner so before I could claim him for my own I had to make an effort to look for them. He was an awesome dog that someone had taken great care of so I knew they had to be missing him. I took pictures of him and plastered Rex all over Facebook in hopes that someone would recognize him, then took him home to introduce him to the infamous Toby. The next day, my son and I took him to the Humane Society Animal Friends to see if he was chipped, which he wasn’t. I registered him as lost with the Humane Society and they took his picture for reference. We waited and waited and waited. The few leads that I had to finding Rex Manning’s owners had came up empty. Several people inquired about him, but none gave me the necessary information that I had omitted intentionally for identification purposes and one person went as far to ask if I was going to give him away because they wanted him. My goal was to find his owner, not to find a new owner for him. Needless to say that we still have him.
In the title I mentioned that Rex Manning is litter trained. I went downstairs this morning to get some clothes out of the laundry and feed the cats. While feeding the cats Rex began sniffling around the cat litter pans. I thought to myself, “Ah hell he’s gonna eat cat shit.” I had heard of dogs doing that before and knowing Rex’s history and nasty fetish, I wouldn’t have put it past him. Instead of eating it, he hikes up his leg and perfectly arcs the pee so that it lands in the cat litter pan! I laughed so hard it startled poor Rex. Apparently he wasn’t done urinating, came over to see what I was laughing so hard about, and promptly finishes peeing a warm dribble on my foot. Serves me right for laughing at him. I’m not sure if he was marking his territory or this was a trick that he had learned from his previous owners. Peeing in the cat pan, not on my foot. At any rate, now, I’m wondering to myself where I can buy a ginormous dog litter pan.