The Suitcase Lady


March 19, 2019, 8:31 pm

For the last 31 years, I have traveled everywhere with a large dog in the back seat of my car. His name is Rex, and he is an extremely well-behaved canine. Rex is white and made entirely of plastic.

All those years ago, I adopted him from a thrift store in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Our kids had never had a dog, and I was finally going to give our son, who by then was living in his own apartment, a “dog” for his birthday. Since our house was small, the dog large and the birthday several months away, I decided to store Rex in the back seat of my car…..belted in and looking out the window.

But after many months passed, Rex became my traveling companion, and I couldn’t part with him. And besides, in the meantime, our son had acquired a real dog, a crazy Dalmatian, so I could rationalize that he didn’t need two dogs.

The first time I went to the bank after acquiring Rex, he was offered a dog biscuit at the drive-through window. Through the years, he has made friends wherever we go. Children are his biggest fans, and because I am pulling up in front of schools and libraries all the time, Rex never lacks for attention.

Rex does have to visit the vet clinic frequently, but he never goes in the front door. He remains serenely in the back seat watching as our very irritated cats get hauled in for their shots and check-ups. There are advantages to being made of plastic.

Summer does present health problems for Rex. When it gets extremely hot, he gets extremely skinny. The first time this happened, I was in a library doing a program for the children. Returning to my car, I opened the door to a blast of 100 degree air. Even though he is made of a hard plastic, Rex had succumbed and was about three inches wide. The good news is that he puffs back up out when the temperature goes down.

Rex and I have gone through many cars together. When I trade in my old cars, he is always there with me, gets unbuckled and then strapped into the backseat of the new one. We roll out of the dealership together.

The only time Rex has to stay home is when having four people in the car or are hauling a big load of stuff. Rex is a big boy, and all my cars are compacts.

I have made a rough calculation of the miles we have driven together in 31 years. It comes to 1, 240,000 miles. That equals 2.6 round trips to the moon. Rex and I are looking forward to many more miles ahead.



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