Green-Wood Cemetery in south Brooklyn is full of famous residents — from artists and musicians to Civil War generals and politicians. But one tucked-away grave has gotten a lot more attention from recent visitors than ever before.
Among the thousands of angels and obelisks is Rex: a bronze statue of a dog lying on a stone platform engraved with his name. Rex has stood guard over his owner’s plot near the corner of Sycamore and Greenbough Avenues for well over 100 years — and he’s still a very good boy.
Rex is believed to be the dog of John E. Stow, who was one of the city’s longest practicing fruit merchants when he died in 1884. For years, people have been collecting sticks and fallen branches to leave them at the good boy’s waiting paws.
“When it comes to Rex, he obviously stands out,” Stacy Locke, communications manager for Green-Wood Cemetery, told The Dodo. “People see him from the road — it’s sort of a prominent spot, right off of the intersection of two roads here.”
“It’s right under a tree and there are lots of sticks around,” Locke 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.’”
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. cc: @dog_rates pic.twitter.com/0GhxcZwjSz
Green-Wood has become a popular destination for those looking to escape the crowds and enjoy nature during the COVID-19 pandemic. And as the number of visitors has grown, so has Rex’s stick collection.
But Rex isn’t the only animal to be honored at the 478-acre cemetery — several other beloved pets were buried with their owners before the cemetery’s board of trustees prohibited animal burials in 1879. “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.”
A note in Green-Wood’s files dating to the 19th century refers to the placement of a “bronze likeness of a dog,” but whether Rex is buried next to his owner remains a mystery. “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 statue is a sweet reminder that no matter how much time passes, a dog’s love is forever.