By Paul Lomax
Special to DNAinfo
MANHATTAN — Every dog has its day, and Sunday retired 'working military dog' Sgt. Rex had his — when Sen. Charles Schumer hosted a welcome home ceremony for the canine hero and his handler, who were both injured in combat.
The four-legged war veteran mugged for the media, chewed on his toys, barked at the camera flashes and wagged his tail contently as his handler and retired Marine Corp. Megan Leavey looked on with pride and affection.
"I'm so happy this tale has a happy ending," gushed Leavey, 28, at the senator's Midtown office where Rex munched on a NYC Taxi chew toy and official US military dog biscuits shaped like elephants and donkeys.
"I want to thank Senator Schumer and everyone that signed the petition that helped get Rex here with me today."
In 2006, both Rex and the corporal, who served two tours of duty together identifying explosives, suffered serious injury when an IED exploded while they searched for roadside bombs in Iraq.
Leavey and her canine pal spent a year recovering together, after which the corporal retired with a Purple Heart and Combat Valor Medal.
But Rex was deemed well enough to continue working and was put back into service.
Leavey, who now works as a dog handler for a Manhattan security firm, first tried to adopt Rex in 2007, but was unable to because of his active status.
When the now 11-year-old German Shepherd turned 10, he was deemed eligible for retirement. Leavey tried once gain to adopt him, but was stymied by military bureaucracy.
However, Schumer's efforts, along with a petition signed by over 20,000 Americans that helped cut through the red tape and secured the adoption of the former bomb sniffing hero, who returned to New York from Camp Pendleton, near San Diego, Calif. earlier this week.
"Rex is happy to be home and is adjusting to his new life nicely," Schumer said. "There where times when it looked like this might not be possible, but today we can all say welcome home Rex."
The proud pooch, who became an official New York state resident, will spend the rest of his days in Valley Cottage, Rockland County with his best friend.
"He hangs around in the yard, plays with my other dogs and his toys and just relaxes really," said an elated Leavey.