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."
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.
A campaign was launched to reunite them and Leavey was able to adopt him earlier this year.
Dowling said Leavey took Rex to the vet because he was acting strange, and fluid was detected on his heart and lungs. After more testing, cancer was discovered.
Leavey made the call to have Rex put down because his quality of life would have been unbearable, Dowling said.
In a Facebook post, Leavey wrote, "I am so grateful for the last 8 months I got to spend with my partner & my best friend."
She said Rex spent his final months swimming, playing with other dogs, roaming the yard, barking at deer and sleeping next to her in a cozy bed.
"He knew I was with him the whole time and I laid next to him & held him & spoke to him & he was at peace in the end. He is now my guardian angel...even though he already was," she wrote.