Canine News from Near and Far, May 2012


Sergeant Rex Retires

On April 7, Rex the bomb-sniffing dog retired from active duty after 11 years in the military and three combat tours in Iraq. His first handler, Mike Dowling, wrote the book Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog about their tour together in some of Iraq’s most dangerous locations. But it was his second handler, marine corporal Megan Leavey, who lobbied hard to have Rex retired into her care in New York.
In 2006 both Leavey and Rex were injured in a severe bomb blast that ended Leavey’s career. At that time, she tried to bring Rex back to the US with her, but Marine Corps officials decided that after healing from his wounds the valuable working dog would still be fit for duty.
Now ten years old, Rex was the oldest working dog in the Camp Pendleton kennel when he was diagnosed with a facial paralysis that could impede his bomb-sniffing abilities. When Leavey heard this news, she launched another campaign to get Rex released to her – and this one found the support of New York Senator Charles Schumer, veterans groups, and over 22,000 people who signed petitions in support of her request. Dowling is happy to see them reunited. “He’s a combat-wounded marine, and someone that’s going to understand him the best is another combat-wounded marine,” he said.


From Runt to Record Holder

Giant George, the world’s tallest dog according to the Guinness Book of World Records is now the subject of a book by his human companion, Dave Nasser. Giant George: Life with the World’s Biggest Dog spills the details of their daily world. George eats rice, chicken, and yogurt every day to keep his finicky Great Dane tummy happy – 180 pounds of food every month. He has his own queen-sized mattress at the foot of his people’s bed.

At 43 inches tall at the shoulder, George is not only the tallest living dog but the tallest dog ever on record. It’s amazing to think that he started life as the runt of the litter.  After being taken home by Dave and his wife Christie, however, it soon became clear he would not remain the smallest dog in the pack for long. “At five months he still acted like a puppy, chasing his tail and playing games of fetch and tug-of-war with his favorite bit of rope. But he was already the size of a fully-grown Labrador,” writes Dave.

Now six and a half years old, George is enjoying the spotlight with the release of the book. He should be used to the attention – he received his Guinness Book award on the Oprah Winfrey show back in February 2010.


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