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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 3, 2010

Stuffed pooch a globetrotter


By Caryn Kunz
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Rex the Surf Dog explored Assateague National Seashore in Maryland with pal Rex Dubiel of Sunset Beach. Dubiel made Rex out of an old blanket and pillow stuffing.

Photo courtesy of Rex Dubiel

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MEET REX THE SURF DOG

Rex the Surf Dog and Rex Dubiel are at the Hale'iwa Farmers Market on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Keiki Korner crafts booth.

Rex's blog: www.surfdogsunsetbeach.com

Free calendar: www.rexthesurfdog.weebly.com

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Rex the Surf Dog has pretty much seen it all: France, Japan, Mongolia, Russia, most of North America and many farmers markets in between.

The stuffed pooch, whose worldwide exploits are chronicled online by creator and "mom" Rex Dubiel of Sunset Beach, teaches geography, literacy, healthy living and green awareness through the people and places he visits.

This year, the "dog with a blog" is also a canine with a calendar one that can be downloaded free at www.rexthesurfdog.weebly.com.

"I love giving and sharing," Dubiel said. "I want this calendar to go out to everybody."

The calendar, which doubles as a coloring book, was developed by Dubiel and Elizabeth Garrison, who converted color photos of Rex's adventures into coloring book illustrations.

"To me, it's about thinking and being creative and using imagination to enrich and expand students' minds. I see so many kids who just don't like to read. It breaks my heart," said Dubiel, who has taught third grade at Sunset Beach Elementary for more than 20 years.

Rex the Surf Dog came into being three summers ago, when Dubiel planned a train trip across the U.S. and wanted to share the experience with her students, who had studied about North America in class.

"I invented a little dog and started a blog to show them the journey," she said.

After positive feedback from the trip, Dubiel decided to continue the project, which has amassed more than 1,300 photos of Rex the Surf Dog taken at hundreds of cultural and educational locations in Hawai'i and throughout the world.

"He's been to Osaka, Moscow, Tuscany, New Zealand, Jamaica, even Mongolia," Dubiel said.

This summer, Rex took a 32-day road trip from San Diego to Seattle. He's recently been seen on O'ahu at the Eddie Aikau big-wave surf contest, the KCC and Hale'iwa farmers markets and posing with Miss Hawaii 2010 Renee Nobriga, a Pupukea resident who was once one of Dubiel's third-graders.

"Kids love (Rex the Surf Dog) especially my students," said Dubiel, who has had Rex visit local libraries and often references popular children's literature. "It's really important to me that they love learning and love books because then they have everything."

Dubiel hopes to take Rex the Surf Dog on a trip to Europe this summer, where he will explore historical locations and experiment with healthy regional cuisine.

"Everything I do is to make somebody more enriched," Dubiel said. "It's teaching literacy, green awareness, healthy living, kindness everybody wants that. The big picture is to have the students become humanitarians."