Rex, a Child’s Literal Lifeline, Is Missing

Susan Tester, a resident of Jump River, Wisconsin, knew Rex, a Beagle, Australian shepherd mix, was different when he joined her family two years ago.  For instance, Rex followed Susan everywhere – there was no place Susan could go without Rex…nowhere.  If Susan went to prepare dinner in the kitchen, Rex went with her.  If she went to make her children’s beds, Rex accompanied her.  If she went to use the restroom, Rex sat patiently at the door’s threshold.

Rex quickly developed a fondness for Susan’s son, Joey, too.  Each day that Joey left for school, Rex would investigate the child’s whereabouts.  Rex would tour the entire house, sniffing each door in search of his playmate.  And every day that Rex had no luck finding Joey, he would sit in the middle of the family’s living room and howl to express his loneliness right on cue.

More remarkably, Rex began kissing Susan’s 11-year old daughter, Katie, in a curious way this past January.  Rex developed the habit of licking Katie, a Type One diabetic, on the mouth five times in succession.  The Testers made some inquiries about Rex’s behavior and were finally advised to test their daughter’s blood sugar whenever Rex licked her on the mouth.

Having learned about Warren Retrievers, service dogs trained to give an alert when a person with diabetes is in jeopardy because of his or her blood sugar levels, and being aware that a single one of these dogs costs around $20,000, the Testers never imagined that they would have a dog with this level of training to help their daughter manage her diabetes…they never imagined they would have a dog capable of saving their daughter’s life.

Following the suggestion of their trusted friend, the Testers began to test Katie’s blood sugar whenever Rex licked her five times on the mouth.  And what they discovered was amazing…miraculous really.  Every time they tested Katie’s sugar levels immediately after Rex kissed her in his peculiar manner, her levels were low.  Rex had the inherent ability to alert the Testers when Katie’s diabetes threatened her life.  While he wasn’t a trained, high-priced Warren Retriever, Rex was still a life-saver just like his canine brethren.  And he was the Testers’ life-saver.  More specifically, he was Katie’s lifeline.

Katie and Rex

Not bad for a dog who originally wasn’t going to stay inside the Testers home.  You see, Susan grew up believing dogs were meant to live outside.  She simply didn’t think dogs belonged indoors.  Well, Rex never spent a night without the companionship of his family, meaning he changed Susan’s thinking about where dogs really do belong.  In fact, Rex changed Susan’s perception of dogs overall.  He was a member of her family from the moment his paws graced the Testers’ front porch.

About the time Rex changed Susan’s point of view, he also figured out how to open the back door of his home.  He consistently managed to turn the door’s knob despite not having the equivalent of a human thumb to let himself outside.  It was such a regular occurrence, no one in the Tester family gave it a second thought when Rex let himself out for a run on January 26.  No one gave it a second thought until he failed to return home later that day, that is.

The Testers spent the first day that Rex was missing scouring the woods around their home and talking to anyone they came across about Rex.  After two days of frantic searching, the Taylor County Humane Society suggested that the family should contact Lost Dogs of Wisconsin.  Lost Dogs of Wisconsin educated the Testers about the importance of posting and distributing flyers.  The group advised the family about the information they needed to put on the flyers and encouraged them to begin disbursing the flyers immediately.

Ever since their initial conversation with a Lost Dogs of Wisconsin caseworker, the Testers have been busy handing out and putting up flyers within a 30-mile radius of their rural home…but they’ve had no luck.  They’ve set up a Facebook page entitled, “Finding Our Rex,” desperately hoping someone, anyone will provide information regarding Rex’s location and/or well-being…but they’ve had no luck.

Even still, the Testers maintain hope that Rex will return home.  The family joins together in a nightly prayer to God, asking that He send Rex home when the time is right.  Susan thinks Rex may be visiting the family’s property at night, but the trail cameras around their land aren’t picking up any evidence of his presence.  The other evening, Susan ran outside in search of Rex thinking she had just heard him bark…but she had no luck.

Joey and Rex

Susan knows in her heart that Rex is out there waiting to be found by his family.  She also knows there is a chance that Rex is out there, trying desperately to get back to the family that loves him, to the little boy who plays with him, to the little girl whose life may depend on him, thinking “Mom, aren’t you coming to get me?”

If you have any information about Rex, please contact Lost Dogs of Wisconsin immediately.  It’s always difficult when a pet goes missing, but it’s particularly distressing when a dog capable of saving a child’s life is no longer around to be with the person who needs him or her the most.  Finding Rex is more than finding a lost pet, which is a worthy enough task.  Finding Rex is finding a child’s lifeline, a lifeline the Testers need…and love.

About Cindi Ashbeck

Lost Dogs of Wisconsin Volunteer
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