I was barely walking when my Uncle Dick came home from the Orioles spring training camp with an eight-week-old English Setter puppy. He gave said pup to my mother saying every kid (me) needed a dog. So my love of dogs is his fault. 

Because the pup came from Georgia, he was dubbed Rebel. 

Times were different back in the late fifties. We lived with my grandparents and dogs didn't live in the house. Rebel lived the first seven years of his life mostly at the end of a chain. Even if he'd had an aptitude for hunting, which he did not, it would have been the same. 

He was one of three dogs we had. My grandfather had two old hounds, Beagles, and the kids were not allowed to bother Blister and Ruff. For good reason. But since Rebel was "my" dog, when my Dad got home from work, Rebel was let loose and I could play with him. I think he tolerated me but since Dad fed him, he liked Dad a lot better. 

When I was eight, my parents bought their own house. Mom was concerned about living on a main road and Rebel stayed on a chain during the day when everyone was at work and school. I was the first home in the afternoon and by this time responsible enough to feed and water the dog. I'd unhook him, see to his feed, empty and refill his water bucket and brush him. The dog would still lie on the patio and wait for Dad. 

One afternoon, the heathen boys next door decided to tease poor Rebel. No one knows how it happened, what was done to the dog. There were three boys and one poor dog on a chain. One of the boys was bitten just below the eye. 

It didn't matter the boys were on someone else's property. It didn't matter the dog was chained and everyone knew they had to have approached the dog, not the dog approach them. Rebel had to spend ten days in quarantine at the local ASPCA. It was quarantine or death. The dog didn't have rabies. No one thought he did. We all KNEW the blame did not fall on Rebel. 

During the ten days Rebel was quarantined, my mother left work every day and went to make sure he was still alive. She didn't trust the men at the pound not to put him down. When she brought him home, Dad had built him a sturdy kennel - and warned the neighborhood boys he'd better NEVER find any of them in his yard again. 

Rebel was about thirteen when he had a stroke. I don't remember if Mom or Dad found him lying in his kennel. They brought him inside and called the vet. I remember the pitiful whimpering and the obvious fear in Rebel's eyes. 

My parents left Rebel's body with the vet. I don't think I've ever forgiven either of them for that even though I know their choices were limited in the middle of January. 

I'd like to be able to excuse the life Rebel had on the different times we lived in, but in my heart, I can't. I look back and get angry at the inability of a young girl to protect the first dog she loved, a gentle soul who deserved better than food, water, and basic shelter. 

I can't go back and fix it for Rebel, but I can give Deuce the life of a prince. Only a dog? No, I don't think so.

They are a moral compass. 


In Rebel's later years, a female friend came into his life.  Reba

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