Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog
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The thrilling and inspiring story of a U.S. Marine and his dog Rex, a bomb sniffing German Shepard, who forged a bond of trust and loyalty while serving on the war-torn streets of Iraq’s most dangerous city.
Called “a deeply affecting tale of courage and devotion in the cauldron of war” by Publishers Weekly, Sergeant Mike Dowling’s heart-pounding account of an unbreakable bond between man and dog takes us into the searing 130-degree heat, the choking dust, and the ever-present threat of violent attack in Iraq’s infamous Triangle of Death. In 2004, Dowling and his military working dog Rex were part of the first Marine Corps military K9 teams sent to the front lines of combat since Vietnam. It was Rex’s job to sniff out weapons caches, suicide bombers, and IEDs, the devastating explosives that wreaked havoc on troops and civilians. It was Mike’s job to lead Rex into the heart of danger. An extraordinary chronicle of loyalty in the face of terrible adversity, Sergeant Rex is an unforgettable story of sacrifice, courage, and love.
his sergeant major. It’s great to see the guys at the very top of the battalion caring for the lower-ranking marines. Again, it makes me feel like 2/2 is a fantastic home for Rex and me, the very best. I walk from guard post to guard post, checking that the marines are all present and alert. After our separation earlier in the day, I want Rex with me at all times. It’s a large compound, and in the still darkness of the walk from post to post I feel like we’re alone in the universe, just me and
I’d come here burning with excitement, and now I was questioning everything that was happening. “What exactly are my options right now?” I asked. I could pick another specialty or walk away until October. The other specialties were closed out too. “Fuck it, send me infantry,” I told him. “My friend, you are going in at the height of summer, and we’ve filled all our quotas. Infantry is closed out. We can stand here all day and run down the list, or you can go on open contract. If you go open
And he’s gone, like a bullet from a gun. Rex streaks across the ground between us, launches himself into the air, and clamps his jaws on Captain Conway’s arm. Thank God he’s bitten the bite sleeve, although I never really doubted that he would. He knocks the captain a good few feet backward, and I can tell that both man and dog are loving it. We do a repeat with Falco, so Harrell’s dog also gets to bite the captain, and all the while the marines are cheering and applauding. Rarely have I had to
like he’s never gonna eat again. He lies down next to me, with his head cradled in my lap, and soon he’s falling asleep. Iraq has exhausted him. Gently, I remove his thick leather collar. I hang it where it lives, on top of his kennel. As I do so, I caress the scratched and battered leather. It is so broken in. I reflect on what it’s been through, and what that signifies about Rex and me and Iraq. Our bond is stronger than ever now, man and dog. We know each other in a way that I might never
He’s reached the “saturation point”—the strongest concentration of the smell—and he’ll get as close as he can without physically touching it. Then he’ll sit before it. He’ll stare at it for a second, then look back at me: Come on, partner, it’s right here! Rex does all of that with the detcord—the strongest explosive scent in the room—and I pluck it out from under the heap of body armor. I show Rex the find and throw him his ball, saying, “Oh, good boy! Good boy!” I’m speaking in my high-pitched