A combat dog known as Sgt. Rex who was finally reunited with his ex-Marine handler in Rockland County last spring has died. The German Shepherd died on Saturday at the age of 11, according to Mike Dowling, author of "Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between A Marine and His Military Working Dog."The story of Rex's last years is quite a ride. CPL Megan Leavey was Rex's handler on his second tour, and was wounded (along with Rex) in an IED explosion. Leavy recovered and ultimately left the Corps and when she heard that Rex was going to be retired she started a letter writing campaign to get custody. After enlisting Senator Schumer (a loathsome toad normally, but who did stand-up work here) and the owners of the New York Yankees (who paid for Rex's travel and all his vet bills), Leavy got Rex.
Sgt. Rex's handler in Iraq, former Cpl. Megan Leavey, was injured with the pup in 2006 while trying to disarm an explosive. Rex is credited with saving lives and uncovering explosives that saved more. Leavey, a Purple Heart recipient, was first denied in her effort to adopt Rex in 2007 because Rex was returned to service after he and Leavey had recovered from their injuries.
When Rex was retired from the military, he and Leavey gained notoriety because she still faced numerous bureaucratic roadblocks as she tried to adopt him.
Bravo, all around, as it gave Rex the chance to live his final year with his former handler. As a celebrity:
The New York Yankees honored retired Camp Pendleton combat dog Sgt. Rex and his former handler, retired Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey, before Sunday's game against the Seattle Mariners. Cpl. Leavey, a New York resident, adopted Sgt. Rex in April.
And this is entirely endearing to me, a Red Sox fan:
It turns out Sgt. Rex has something in common with my husband. Neither is a big fan of Alex Rodriguez. According to the Associated Press, Sgt. Rex protectively jumped in front of Leavey when Rodriguez approached her with a gift - a heart-shaped charm from Tiffany & Co with ''Rex'' written on it.Oohrah, Rex, good dog. Rest in Peace, Devil Dog.