Rex greets everyone who enters Wirthmore Antiques (3727 Magazine Street, 269-0660, www.wirthmoreantiques.com), but his owner Tim Jones says it's an extra good sign if he meets you with a toy in his mouth.
"He's very friendly with everyone, [but] if he brings you a toy to play, it shows that he likes you," Jones says. "He doesn't do that with everyone."
The four-year-old Scottish terrier loves to be petted, especially when he's lounging on one of his favorite pieces of furniture: a 19th-century French gilt wood canape. Rex arrived in New Orleans by way of Ohio, and Jones says it wasn't his plan to name the dog after the old-line Carnival krewe. The breeder, unaware of the Rex parade, gave the sociable dog the name Rex because it means "noble" and "king." Yet, seeing Rex in his black-and-gold fleur de lis collar at repose among the antiques, it's hard to imagine him with any other name.
Each morning Rex begins his day with a 30-minute walk in the dog park. Upon arriving at Wirthmore, Rex dances around the store, scattering his toys about and always making sure to greet customers — unless a fire is burning in the fireplace, in which case Rex curls up in a chair near the flames and naps all day. Once home, Rex likes to play with Simone, a cat. While some dogs do not get along with cats, Jones says Rex is quite the opposite and is very protective of Simone.
"A friend came over with her dog, and her dog tried to get the cat and Rex got between them," Jones says. "They're very mischievous together."
Rex loves people, and Jones often brings him to dog-friendly bars in the French Quarter, where Rex sits on the furniture and orders water.
While Rex is friendly to everyone, Jones says Rex's favorite person is Gay Wirth, owner of Wirthmore Antiques.
"When he hears her car, he starts circling the store and grabs the reindeer toy she gave him for Christmas," Jones says. "They have a routine where he circles [the store] while she throws him the toy."
First opened in 1983, Wirthmore Antiques is a treasure trove of antiques, which Wirth describes as her little world of France.
"It's a store with a heartbeat," Wirth says. "I want people to come in and enjoy the ambience. I buy what touches my heart." Originally specializing in 18th- and 19th-century French provincial antiques, the store also carries Italian and Swedish antiques. "I fell in love with France, and my dream was to be able to understand the French culture better and know its people, then have a shop that would represent the real heartbeat of France, not the tourist heartbeat," Wirth says.
Having discussed getting a dog for the shop, potentially a French bulldog, Jones and Wirth say it all fell into place once Rex came to the store.
"I told [Jones] to bring Rex to work if he was good," Wirth says as Rex lies in her lap.
Since Rex became the shop dog, Jones says customers come in the store and immediately ask where Rex is.
"[Customers] are more interested in the dog than antiques," Wright says. "Even those most interested in antiques are more interested in Rex."
favorite things ...
MY TOY REINDEER
SIMONE THE CAT
ANY KIND OF TREAT
THE FURNITURE AT WIRTHMORE ANTIQUES