Retired Marine reunites with military dog

Cpl. Megan Leavey, Sgt. Rex served 2 tours in Iraq

SAN DIEGO - After two tours together in Iraq, a military dog was reunited Friday with his former handler at Camp Pendleton.

Sgt. Rex, an 11-year-old German shepherd, spent most of his life sniffing out explosive materials. He served three combat tours during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

On Friday, Sgt. Rex retired, and after six years apart, he was adopted and reunited with Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey, his former handler.

"He's my partner and you just develop such a strong bond with each other," Leavey said.

Sgt. Rex and Leavey served two tours in Iraq together, and in 2006, both were injured when they encountered an improvised explosive device.

"It was real scary, it was traumatic, it was sad. I was happy we were together and still there," said Leavey.

Leavey retired after the incident, but Sgt. Rex remained in service.

The German shepherd was the focus of a book written by his first handler, Cpl. Mike Dowling, about their experience on Sgt. Rex's first tour to Iraq.

Dowling said Leavey and Rex are a perfect fit because of everything they've been through together.

"So they can be there for each other and you couldn't write it any better," said Dowling.

Sgt. Rex was able to retire on Friday after passing a temperament assessment and a physical ability test to see if he could get back to civilian life before being adopted.

Now he's off to New York to enjoy retirement.

"… I have new dog beds, I have food, I have everything he could want," said Leavey.

Leavey said she has a big back yard for Rex to play in. She also said she has a friend for him -- her chocolate Labrador named Patriot.

The pair's travel expenses will be paid for by the New York Yankees.

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