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Sergeant Rex by Mike Dowling

Intense. Heart-stopping. Enlightening. Wonderful. Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog, by Mike Dowling is all of these things.

“We start the walk.”

“IED Alley stretches before us, a deserted length of rubble-strewn, sun-baked dirt. To the uninitiated, there’s nothing obvious here that screams out violence and danger. To me, gazing down IED Alley is like peering into the very jaws of hell.”

This is how Dowling opens his account of the months he spent in Iraq during the height of the war, serving alongside his loyal, brave canine partner. The Sergeant and his working dog Rex, also a Sergeant, were part of the first Marine Corps military working dog (K9) teams sent to the battlefield since Vietnam. Rex’s job was to sniff out weapons caches, suicide bombers, and IED’s, the devastating explosives which caused so much death and destruction for troops and civilians.

Sent into the Triangle of Death in 2004, Dowling and companion initially seemed out of place and no one knew quite what to do with them. This changed after their first mission where the officers and soldiers got to see first hand what Rex could do, and the lives that could be saved because of his terrific sense of smell. They served in several hot spots while they were in Iraq and wherever he went Rex was loved by Dowling’s fellow soldiers. They even had nicknames for him: Sexy Rexy and T-Rex. At times, the dog provided a welcome relief to the horrors surrounding them.

At all times, Dowling thought of Rex first and himself second, hunkering down over the animal in a firefight, dressing wounds on his feet, making sure he had water and did not become overheated in the intense desert sun.

Since serving with Mike, Rex has been paired with several other soldiers and served two additional tours in Iraq. His overseas duties are over and Rex only serves in the United States as of this writing.

From the early days of their training together to the horror of serving together in war, man and dog had an intense bond. A lot of people don’t like to read books about war, but a lot do like to read about the amazing jobs animals serve in our world today. While this book certainly shows the horror of war, it also shows the magnificent spirit of man and his best friend.

This is one mission you won’t want to miss.

-Ginny

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