Sergeant Rex, a bomb-sniffing dog who finally returned from duty in Iraq earlier this year and was reunited with his former handler, died Saturday at the age of 11.
Rex was assigned to Cpl. Megan Leavey in 2006 when, on a patrol in Iraq, the dog alerted his handler of a nearby bomb. Both tried to run away, but it detonated, injuring them both.
Leavey left the Marine Corps in Dec. 2007, but Sergeant Rex continued to serve. She tried to adopt the dog, but was unable to for years because he remained on duty after recovering from his injuries.
This year, when Rex was retired due to facial paralysis, Leavey renewed her efforts, receiving support form U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and an online petition that received more than 20,000 signatures. In March, Leavey received permission to adopt him. They were reunited in April.
Leavey, who lives in New York, announced Rex’s death last week on her Facebook page:
“Unfortunately today at 10:56 a.m. Rex passed away. I was faced with the decision that no pet owner wants to hear, but I know I made the right choice. This is all very sudden and thankfully he did not suffer for long, this all came about late last night.
“I am so grateful for the last eight months I got to spend with my partner and my best friend. Rex got to swim in a pool and play with my other dogs. He got to roam the yard and bark at deer, play with as many toys as he wanted all day everyday, sleep in a cozy bed next to me every night, chase and eventually make friends with my two cats, enjoy and play in his first snowfall … and so much other great stuff that he would have never had the chance to do if he was never retired.
“He knew I was with him the whole time and I laid next to him and held him and spoke to him and he was at peace in the end. He is now my guardian angel … even though he already was. So thank you to everyone who supported me and made it possible for me to spend those precious 8 months with my best friend.
“He was one hell of a dog, one tough ass Marine, and one very special soul. He will no doubt be greatly missed and never forgotten.”
A book about Rex came out this year, entitled “Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog.” It was written by Mike Dowling, another one of Sergeant Rex’s handlers.
Rex searched more than 6,220 vehicles while stationed in Iraq, the Marine Corps says.
The publishers of the new book noted his passing in a Facebook post this week:
“Rest in peace Rex and thank you for your service and sacrifice. Once a Marine, Always a Marine … Semper Fi,” they wrote.
(Photo of Rex and Leavey from tribute posted at Findagrave.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 27th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bomb, bombs, bond, book, death, died, dog, handler, handlers, ied, iraq, megan leavey, mike dowling, military, reunion, reunited, sergeant rex, sniffing, war
The first national monument paying tribute to military dogs will be unveiled in California in two months before going on tour on the way to its final destination – Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
The U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument will honor dogs that have served in combat since World War II.
While there are other sculpted memorials to military dogs, this one is the first to be proclaimed a national monument, according to the Associated Press.
It was a reader who suggested a monument, and Burnam saw that as an idea worth pushing.
“I wanted to give something back to these animals that have done so much and asked for so little, except for food and water and the love of their handlers,” said Burnam, who received the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
In 2004, Burnam and two other veterans formed the John Burnam Monument Foundation Inc. In 2007, Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., introduced legislation authorizing establishment of the monument. Passed unanimously by Congress, it was signed the next year by President George W. Bush, then amended and signed by President Barack Obama.
Burnam designed the monument, which depicts a handler and four dogs — a Doberman, German shepherd, Labrador retriever and Belgian Malinois.
The silicon bronze handler stands more than 9 feet tall and weighs 1,500 pounds. Each dog is about 5 feet tall and weighs 550 pounds. The sculptor, Paula Slater, says she has spent thousands of hours on the project.
Primary funding for the project is being supplied by Natural Balance Pet Foods Inc. To raise funds for the monument and its maintenance, Natural Balance created a jerky treat sold by Petco. Maddie’s Fund, a pet rescue foundation, also signed on as a corporate sponsor.
A floral replica of the sculpture, in the form of a float, will be part of the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena on Jan. 1, and among those riding on it will be Burnam, dogs and handlers from every military service branch.
The monument will then go on temporary display next to the float at Victory Park. After that, it will hit the road, headed for Lackland Air Force Base, where most of the nation’s military dogs are trained.
(Photos: At top, a model of the U.S. Working Dogs Teams National Monument, courtesy of John Burnam Monument Foundation; above left, handler John Burnam and sculptor Paula Slater stand with the military dog handler that will be part of the monument, courtesy of Natural Balance)
Posted by jwoestendiek October 31st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, doberman, dogs, german shepherd, handlers, john burnam, Labrador retriever and Belgian Malinois. paula slater, lackland, lackland air force base, military, monument, national, national monument, natural balance, pets, sculpture, statue, teams, tribute, war