There’s nothing like the heartbreak of losing a pet. After all, these animals are more than just our companions; they’re family.
We know that their time with us is short, and while that’s the poignant reality, it also makes every moment we spend with them a little more special.
The Green-Wood Cemetery in south Brooklyn houses the remains of one of the best boys to have ever lived in New York. His name is Rex, and he’s believed to be buried with his owner, John E. Stow, one of the city’s most prominent fruit merchants who passed away in 1884. Guarding his plot is Rex, who is represented by a bronze statue of his likeness.
While the cemetery houses several famous residents—including artists and musicians such as Leonard Bernstein, Charles Ebbets, and Jean-Michel Basquiat—the dog’s gravesite near the corner of Sycamore and Greenbough Avenues appears to be one of the most-visited tombs in the entire memorial park.
The evidence? The constant pile of sticks and fallen branches placed above his paws. Apparently, people leave them there because they think Rex is still a very good boy, even if he passed away over 100 years ago.
“When it comes to Rex, he obviously stands out. People see him from the road — it’s sort of a prominent spot, right off of the intersection of two roads here,” Stacy Locke, communications manager for Green-Wood Cemetery, told The Dodo.
“It’s right under a tree and there are lots of sticks around,” she added. “People will drop a stick across his little paws. Someone also left a picture of a dog there once, maybe their little pet who passed away, as to say, ‘Rex, look after my little one.'”
The 478-acre cemetery has become a popular destination for people wanting to escape the crowds and enjoy nature trips during the COVID-19 pandemic. With this, Rex’s stick collection has grown notably over the past few months, thanks to the visitors who take the time to collect fallen branches around the park and bring it to his tomb.
Although there’s a “bronze likeness of a dog,” atop Stow’s grave, it’s unclear whether Rex was actually buried there with him or not.
“I think people like to believe that there is a dog interred there and there very well might be,” Locke said. “But it’s hard to say.”
Rex’s grave has attracted the attention of people on social media. Many posts on Twitter and Facebook talk about the dog’s famous burial site.
“In Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn there is a gravestone for a dog named Rex. People bring him sticks and place them at his feet because he is still a good boy,” tweeted @KevinTMorales, along with a snapshot of Rex’s statue.
Aside from Rex, another dog in the cemetery gets a lot of love from visitors.
“There’s another dog sculpture that has a similar mysterious story but it’s a little bit more off the beaten path,” Locke said. “And that one typically has toys left on it.”
Many beloved pets were buried with their owners before the cemetery’s board of trustees banned animal burials in 1879.
The Green-Wood cemetery remains open to visitors. Guests can book walks or trolleys, depending on what part of history they’d like to explore in the area.
A dog’s love is forever, and they deserve to be honored even in the simplest ways. If ever you visit Green-Wood one of these days, make sure to leave a stick or toy on the resting places of these beloved companions. It’s the only way we can show them our gratitude, even if they’re already up in doggy heaven.