Category Archives: Series

Rex, the goddamn best dog in the world

First Rex started growling. Then he disappeared. Then he brought a gift. I should have seen it. I should have understood my best friend of three years better than this.

When Shana came home I tried to explain everything. I wanted to talk to her but she walked up the stairs and slammed the bedroom door shut. By the time I came upstairs she was already under the blanket. I placed a hand where I thought her shoulder would be.

“I can’t take it,” she said. “I can’t take this anymore.”

I pulled the blanket off her head. There were tears on her face.

“I can’t take it anymore, the way Rex behaves.”

I nodded. I hugged her. I wanted to explain; I wanted her to understand. But all I could say was.

“It’s okay.”

I lay next to her for ten or twenty minutes. Shana’s breath turned to the steady and regular breathing of a happy sleep. I brushed my teeth and sat at the end of the bed, thinking about what to do. Continue reading

Rex brought a gift

It’s been two days since Rex disappeared. It was Friday night and it’s Sunday now. Two weird things have happened since then.

I’m not sure whether I should count Friday night as a ‘third weird thing.’ Shana and I were both unable to sleep. It might have been that Rex wasn’t there or that our back door was broken or that Shana or just the whole crazy week, but I think it was something else. It felt to me as if the air was electrically charged. And it probably was my imagination, but in some moments I heard an extra breath, one that wasn’t ours.

I blocked the bedroom door with our dresser. I know that sounds crazy but even Shana didn’t object – usually she calls me out on my stupidities. Afterwards she cuddled up, placed her head on my shoulder and I think she fell asleep.

For me that wasn’t possible. I tried to sleep, but with every passing hour I got not just more tired but also more nervous, nearly agitated. I felt my legs shivering, but not from cold.

I saw the first sunrays through the window. From one moment to the next my nervousness fell away and I fell asleep.

My body was shaking.

“Wake up,” she said. “Please wake up.”

Shana’s face was right above mine. There was sweat on her forehead, like a warning sign.

Then the first weird thing happened.

“Sorry;” she said. “I didn’t want to wake you, but I have to ask. Did you eat all the meat? Did you?”

I said No.

Shana’s cheeks lost their color.

“Oh,” she said. Like an additinoal word one drop of sweat fell on my face.

Shana had gotten up a few hours before me. She had asked Travis for help, the older bachelor living next door with his cat. He always had woodwork projects and Shana had rightly assumed that he would have a slab of wood to block our back door until the replacement on Tuesday.

Travis had decided that it was easier to walk around the back of the house rather than carry the heavy plate through both of our houses. He had left his garden and Shana had entered our gate for him.

“Lot’s of trash here,” he had said.

Travis went inside with his slab of wood. Shana went outside to look for the trash.

It was in the bushes right behind Travis’ house, just out of sight from our usual way into the forest. Stained wax paper. Cling film. Empty plastic bags. Soft white plastic trays for meat.

Shana recognized most of them. She even recognized her handwriting on the bags that should have been in our freezer.

Saturday was a long day. I won’t go into the details but there was screaming and accusations that I was lying. Then Shana called her father and I listened to her crying and screaming while I sat in the living room with a bowl of cereal.

In the end her father convinced Shana that it was all not such a big deal. Shana’s father said it was likely just a homeless person or a drifter hungry for a good meal and that the guy probably also stole other stuff and we just didn’t notice it. He also suggested that Rex was maybe on his tracks and that that was the reason why he ran off.

Then, after Shana had repeated all of that calmly to me, there were more accusations that she wanted an alarm when we moved in and that I was the one to reject it because it was too costly. I reminded her that it wasn’t possible to install an alarm because the back door would have to have been replaced.

At some point the police came and wrote all these things down and a bit later an alarm company came and made us an offer that Shana signed while I was out of the room. Then there was more fighting.

And in all these fights there was one thing I didn’t want to bring up. One thing that I thought Shana would at some point realize or that the police would possible bring up:

There were no signs of a fireplace. Either the thief had used our stove – and I like to believe we or at least Rex would have noticed that – or he had eaten the meat raw.

Let’s just say Saturday night I didn’t sleep much either. We blocked the back door with Travis’ slab of wood and brought all valuables into our bedroom – nothing seemed to be missing except for my camera but I often misplace it and didn’t think much of it. I blocked our bedroom door again, this time with a wedge, a shelf, a stack of books under the door handle and a small bell tied to the handle as an improvised alarm.

An hour later I took the bell off because it kept ringing. There was no other noise and I couldn’t see the door handle move, so it was certainly just the draft.

I don’t know when I fell asleep. It must have been pretty late, probably around 2 or 3am. I kept imagining breathing sounds and every creak in the old house seemed like footsteps or something crawling along the walls or pressing against the door. A few times I nearly dozed off but a sudden noise made me rip my eyes wide open to stare at the window.

A second night without sleep. A second weird thing.

There never was anything that sounded real. There were no loud noises, no sliding or pulling noises. Certainly I didn’t hear the back door being opened.

And yet, when we woke up, it was opened.

Sunday morning Shanah woke me up. She couldn’t move the big shelf on her own but needed to use the bathroom.

When I pushed the door handle down there was a sudden push from outside and the door opened. Rex’s body rolled partially inside the room. Rex jumped up with his tail wagging, the tongue hanging out of his mouth and his eyes full of excitement.

I just stared. My mind was still too sleepy to decide whether to stroke his head or whether to recoil. Shana’s gasp freed me from my dilemma.

Rex’ whole head and front legs were soaked in dry blood. Dark red stains even covered his back and neck. Rex didn’t seem to mind. He just tried to push his nose and the side of his head against my arm the way he always did when he wanted me to caress him.

Shana volunteered me to wash him. While I pushed Rex towards the bathroom Shana went downstairs. Rex left red stains on my pajama pants and the white wall.

Before we even made it to the bathroom Shana screamed.

She stood at the front door with shaking shoulders and her hand on the key. The other arm pointed towards the kitchen. The key turned. Shana went outside.

Then I saw why she screamed.

There was a dead deer in front of the kitchen counter. The body was torn open; intestine and organs were spread all over the kitchen floor. The deer’s neck was ripped apart and the mutilated head barely anymore attached to the body.

Rex followed me down the stairs. While I stared at the carcass in our kitchen Rex rubbed against my leg. Without thinking about it I caressed his head. When I pulled my hand away I realized that, from the look of it, Rex’s whole head must have been inside the dead deer.

I washed Rex first. During that time Shana came back inside, got dressed and left without a word.

With Rex locked inside the bathroom I went downstairs to get rid of the carcass. When I tried to pull the deer corpse into a black bin bag the head completely ripped off and blood splattered all over my clothes. The head went in a bag together with a severed leg. With some squeezing and through breaking the second hind leg the rest of the body fit inside another bag.

It took me around three hours just to clear the blood away. I didn’t even have the energy to deal with the stains that Rex left on the stairs and the walls upstairs.

Shana later texted me that she went to a friend’s place. She told me she wouldn’t come back while ‘my dog’ was still in the house. After a lengthy debate she agreed to come as long as he was locked inside the living room and I made sure to bring him to the pound on Monday.

Rex was peacefully sleeping in the wet bathtub. I dried him roughly with a hair dryer – he seemed to enjoy that – and locked him in the living room.

Only then, with Rex locked away and Shana on her way home, I realized the one thing that should have jumped straight in my face:

In the morning Rex was inside. The carcass was inside. But the Travis’ slab on back door was still in place. And the back door was still locked.

I went outside to check. The garden gate too is still locked.

There were no open windows. No open doors. No nothing. I don’t know how Rex could have gotten inside.

He is still in the living room. I hear him whining right now. He is scratching against the door. I locked the door but I can see how he is pulling the door handle down to try and open it.

It’s been more than three since we found him on the street. I know he is a smart dog. But in all these years, not a single time has he tried to pull the handle.

Update: Rex, the goddamn best dog in the world


The last week Rex has been growling at the back door. Every night he stood there, his claws dug into the kitchen floor, his ears raised and his teeth bared. And he growled. For hours he growled.

Rex has never been like that. He was always incredibly calm. I remember how we drove on the highway. Suddenly Shana screamed “Stop!” and her hand grabbed the steering wheel.

I saw the puppy in the last minute and with squeaking brakes nearly crashed our car into a tree. Even then, as a puppy, he was calm. When we got out of the car he still sat in the middle of the road with his tiny tongue hanging out of his mouth and eyes that seemed to ask us why we had made such a fuss.

There was no one else around. There weren’t any houses, not even a petrol station nearby. Just him. After drinking about half a bottle of water the little German Shepherd fell asleep in Shana’s lap. We named him after an old TV show dog: Rex.

Since then Rex lived with us. But he never behaved like he did the last weeks. Half his night was spent standing in the kitchen with his eyes fixated on the thin door. It was as if Rex knew that somebody was outside and wanted to scare that somebody away. He only calmed down when we took him to our bedroom, but even then he was nervous and got up every few minutes to sniff the door or stretch up and towards the window.

We know that Rex is a fighter. He is keen on defending us and our house. Once Rex even caught a burglar. We went shopping and must have forgotten to lock the front door. An hour later we returned and heard Rex growling from inside the house.

The young man had climbed on the kitchen counter and was shaking a knife in Rex’s direction. In between his growls Rex opened his mouth halfway and his large teeth seemed to point in the direction of the burglar. The moment the police arrived Rex calmed down and walked to the other end of the room to make space for the officers.

With every passing night of Rex growling I grew more and more convinced that he wasn’t growling at something. It seemed more as if he was trying to warn us.

I don’t want to say that Rex is the best dog in the world, but he sure as hell is one of the best and he always seems to sense trouble. I’m convinced that on a Saturday last October he saved Shana from something bad. Shana has always been independent and she loves running, particularly in the large forest that starts right behind our house.

That time Shana was out for maybe half an hour – not an unusual time for her. Rex was with me in the garden but suddenly he began wincing and walked in small circles until he finally walked to our garden gate and stopped behind it. Our fence is high and Rex knows that he can’t climb it. He just stood there, with his body towards the gate but his head turned back towards me, and winced.

I thought he just felt some bad bowel movements coming. I threw my shoes on, put a leash on him and opened the gate. The moment the gate was open Rex sprinted off. He just ripped the leash out of my hand and ran into the trees.

I tried to follow him but he was so fast that it was impossible to keep the pace. For two or three minutes longer I heard Rex. After that I called him a few times. When he didn’t return I went home. I figured he knew the way back and would come whenever his lust for hunting or whatever else it was was satisfied.

Rex was back twenty minutes later. Shana was jogging and he was at her side and held his own leash in his mouth.

Later Shana told me that she had felt watched. She had felt as if somebody was there with her in the forest. She had run faster but the sensation had only increased – until suddenly there was a series of loud cracking sounds to her side. Shana said she nearly got a heart attack when Rex jumped out of the woods.

She also said that the moment Rex arrived the sensation of being watched went away. Since then she takes Rex on most of her jogs.

What I mean to say is that Rex is a smart dog. I’m convinced that he hears and senses things that we don’t. That’s why his growling at the wooden back door and his nervous pacing in our room are so disturbing. It seems to mean that he knows something is there and he knows that it shouldn’t be there. But whatever it is – the growling doesn’t seem to scare it off.

The first three nights I took a golf club and went outside with Rex. I held his leash in my left and the club in my right hand.

When we went in the garden Rex still growled, but he didn’t pull on the leash or try to run. That’s what he usually does when he hears or smells something. The leash was hanging loosely between us and Rex stayed close to my side.

He growled for maybe half a minute. His eyes seemed to scan the whole garden; particularly when I shone my flashlight around. Then, from one moment to the next, he stopped growling. He turned his head towards me and his eyes had the same look that they have when he wants to go for a walk or wants a second portion of food.

By that time it was nearly midnight and I took him inside instead.

Rex seemed happy at first and allowed me to caress his neck and head. Then, a minute or two later his ears rose again, his body tensed and he growled again.

I’m not sure whether it’s related at all, but Shana told me yesterday that a lot of meat has gone missing from the fridge and she thinks there might even some be missing from the freezer. Sometimes Rex is home along, so, in theory, he could have done it. That’s what Shana thinks, particularly because we know that he can open the fridge – a few time we caught him red-mouthed with his head in the cheese tray.

I have my doubts about Rex stealing the meat. For once he was always more interested in the cheese than the meat and when I tested him yesterday – I offered him a piece of sausage or a piece of cheese – he prefered the cheese. Secondly there was no plastic in his stool. I mean, not that I searched through it – but it’s not just the meat that’s gone. With it the wax paper and cling films or plastic trays have disappeared.

The vet said that Rex’s growling is not that unusual. He thinks that behavior has nothing to do with a lust for hunt but is instead more likely directed at another dog – “an intruder on the home dog’s territory.”

I’m not sure what to make of that. None of our neighbors have dogs and the few people that have dogs would rather walk past the front of our house than past the back. And they certainly wouldn’t stay there for several hours of the night.

Some neighbors also have cats but Rex never had an issue with cats. He actually likes to play with them, which is why most cats avoid our garden.

One week of growling and no questions answered. Maybe I should have bought some sort of CCTV to make sure that there really is nothing in our garden. I will definitely do that on Monday.

I just hope it’s not too late for that.

The thing is that last night Rex growled again. We took him to our bedroom after ten or twenty minutes. He was quiet for a moment but then he suddenly started growling again. He stood the same way that he had stood behind the back door, with his whole body tense and his eyes focused on the door. Only that it was our bedroom door rather than the back door.

Shana tried to get a handful of sleep while I went through the house with Rex to check for any intruders. There really was nothing, even Rex stopped growling and instead walked closely next to me, sometimes even behind me.

Back in our bedroom he instantly started growling again. After five minutes of that I opened the door and gave him the command to go outside. He obeyed, but at the point when I closed the door he noticed that I didn’t join him and he quickly bared his teeth. I even left the corridor lights on for him, he sleeps better with them on.

After a week of sleep deficit it was easy to fall asleep and I think Shana felt the same way. Rex’s growling on the corridor seemed to fade into the distance. Shana fell asleep first. I heard her steady breathing and two or three, at most five minutes later I was gone too.

We must have slept deeply. It must have been incredibly loud when the back door broke.

Usually Rex welcomes us when we leave our bedroom. This morning that wasn’t the case. Instead the house just felt cold and windy.

When we were downstairs we knew why it was cold. The lower half of the door was completely shattered; the upper half was barely hanging on the hinges.

Rex wasn’t in the garden either. I was always so sure that he wouldn’t be able to jump over the fence.

Shana spent two or three hours on the phone to find an affordable handyman that can replace the door on Monday or Tuesday. I heard her cursing at Rex and his ‘destructive drive.’

I’m not angry at him. I haven’t told Shana about that, but I am mostly worried about him. He is still somewhere out there, alone, in the forest.

I don’t want to draw fast conclusions, but when I think about the way the door was destroyed cold shivers run down my spine. The wood was old and it would at some point certainly have given in. But the door didn’t just give in to a few scratches. It looked as if it had been rammed open.

All day Shana has cursed about Rex and all day I have worried about Rex. Either way, the sun has set again and as a matter of fact he is still not back.

I fear for Rex. But right now, with the night approaching and the gaping hole still in the door, I mostly fear for us.

The thing is that I was the one that cleaned up the splintered wood.

I think that’s why Shana didn’t realize from which direction the ramming had come from.

I don’t think Shana noticed that most of the splinters were lying inside the house.

Update: Two days later

River People 1: River Children

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I thought it was just water. Just muddy water, deep enough that the tallest person would not be able to touch bottom and surface at the same time. Our house is about forty steps away – enough to keep the smell away, but not enough to avoid the yearly flood from drowning our garden.

We lived here for four years and we always liked that river despite the smell and lack of life. I heard once that flowing water keeps witches away, maybe that’s part of it. And of course it’s nice to have free water for the garden.

The summer we moved in I tried to swim in the river, but while the air was burning the water was cold as if it had just come off a glacier. I always thought that was strange. I’ve been to the river’s spring though – a waterfall that comes right out of a nearby mountain. Back at the spring the water is clear. Continue reading