People Are Leaving Sticks At This 100-Year-Old Dog Grave

The Greenwood Cemetery in South Brooklyn is full of famous residents—from artists and musicians to war generals and politicians. However, a hidden grave has received 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 with his name engraved on it. Rex has stood guard over his owner’s plot near the corner of Sycamore and Greenbough Avenues for overflow 100 years — and he's still a good boy.

Rex is believed to be the dog of John E. Stow, who was one among the city’s longest practicing fruit merchants when he died in 1884. For years, people are collecting sticks and fallen branches to go away them at the great boy’s waiting paws.

“When it involves Rex, he obviously stands out,” Stacy Locke, communications manager for Green-Wood Cemetery, told The Dodo. “People see him from the road — it’s kind of a prominent spot, right off of the intersection of two roads here.” “It’s right under a tree and there are many sticks around,” Locke added. “People will drop a stick across his little paws. Someone also left an image of a dog there once, maybe their little pet who gave up the ghost, as to say, ‘Rex, take care of my baby .’”

Green-Wood has become a well-liked destination for those looking to flee the crowds and luxuriate in nature during the COVID-19 pandemic. And because the number of tourists has grown, so has Rex’s stick collection.

But Rex isn’t the sole 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 features a similar mysterious story but it’s a touch bit more off the beaten path,” Locke said. “And that one typically has toys left thereon .”

A note in Green-Wood's files dating to the 19th century refers to the location of a “bronze likeness of a dog,” but whether Rex is buried next to his owner remains mystery. “I think people wish to believe that there's a dog interred there and there alright could be ,” Locke said. “But it’s hard to mention .” Rex’s statue may be a sweet reminder that regardless of what proportion time passes, a dog’s love is forever.