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Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog
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Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog

4.23  ·  Rating Details ·  697 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews

“In Iraq we put our lives in each other’s hands (and paws) day after day. We took care of each other no matter what. Rex and I have a bond that will last for the rest of our born days. If ever there was a marine who lived up to Semper Fidelis, the motto of the Marine Corps, it’s Rex.”

Deployed to Iraq’s infamous Triangle of Death in 2004, Sergeant Mike Dowling and his mili

Hardcover, 290 pages
Published December 13th 2011 by Atria Books
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Jun 20, 2015 Tasha rated it liked it
Any wartime experience shared usually gets an automatic 3+ star rating from me because I appreciate the service given to this country. That being said, it's really hard to rate a book written about someone's war time experience. So my rating is based solely on the writing style and the author's voice, not his experience in war for which I am truly grateful, as I am of Rex's courage and service as well.

I generally enjoyed this book. I love reading about war dogs and this was no exception. In fac
I picked this up after my dad left it laying around. A couple hours later, I had finished it and was wiping away tears. (just as a heads up, everything works out okay).

This is the real life account of Sergeant Mike Dowling and his Military Working Dog (MWD) Sergeant Rex. Sent to Iraq to seek out improvised explosive devices (I.E.Ds) and to launch the Marine Corps military K9 use in the front lines. This book was a quick read, and more of a conversation between Dowling and the reader. It's pleasa
Paul Pessolano
Jan 12, 2012 Paul Pessolano rated it liked it
“Sergeant Rex” by Mike Dowling, published by Atria Books.

Category – Dogs/Military

The last time dogs were used in a military campaign was during the Vietnam War. These dogs were used for guard duty and searching out the enemy. After the war these dogs were mostly forgotten.

It was not until the Iraq War that we found that dogs were not only useful but also vital to the military. Their role became even more important when they were used to locate hidden explosives and armament.

Mike Dowling tells th
Jun 09, 2012 Beau rated it it was ok
I was enjoying this book, quite a bit even though I know that the author was first a Marine and second an author. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling he had a great deal of help writing this. I don't believe that because I don't think he could write a book; he's a Marine...he could probably do anything. There is a point early on in the book (chapter 3 I think, after his first mission) that he talks about feeding his dog perfectly formulated Science Diet, etc etc. The section reads so much ...more
May 01, 2013 Lindsey rated it liked it
Mike Dowling is a Marine and a K9 handler, he is not a professional writer. Don't expect to encounter life-altering prose in this novel. Having said that, I was touched by this book in many ways. I'd rank it a 3.5 if possible.
This is the story of Dowling's 6-month tour in Iraq with Rex, a dog trained in both patrol and bomb detection. The personality and intelligence of the dog shines through in Dowling's telling. He recounts missions with Rex wherein they encountered situations so dangerous it'
Oct 16, 2012 Caroline rated it liked it
It's hard for me to not love a book about 1) dogs; 2) German Shepherd dogs. So those factors right there gave it an automatic 3 stars. I would have liked to have given it more stars but the author's "speaking" style was a little rough and didn't flow well. But, it is about a guy and his wonderful dog partner who risked their lives to go into war. 5 stars for that.

I made me feel bad that my German Shepherd just lays around all day napping and going for an occasional walk. I'm sure she'd love to h
Christian D.  Orr
Oct 12, 2014 Christian D. Orr rated it it was amazing
Never a dull moment in this fantastic book for military buffs and dog-lovers alike. Equally heartwarming, humorous, and nerve-racking combat scenes. And it reminds me why the German Shepherd is my favorite breed of dog. OORAH and Semper Fi, SGT Rex and CPL Dowling!
Delane Cunningham
Jan 18, 2012 Delane Cunningham rated it it was amazing
Without repeating what has been recorded prior to now, this book shows a relationship both humorous and serious. The methods used by the author suck you into their lives. I've recommended this to my friends. I could not sleep till I finished it. That does not happen very often.
Nov 12, 2013 13nolanm2 rated it it was amazing
not as good as what i thought it was going to be
Mar 04, 2016 NebraskaIcebergs rated it liked it
Sergeant Mike Dowling and his dog Rex were only one of a handful of military working dogs or K9 teams deployed in 2004 to the war in Iraq. Moreover, they were part of the first 12 Military Working Dog teams sent to the frontline of a war since Vietnam. In the nonfiction narrative, Sergeant Rex, Dowling tells the story of how the team went from being guinea pigs to seasoned partners in detecting weapons, bombs, and explosives. Their story shows how strong the bond between man and dog can be, as ...more
Jordan Larsen
Mar 08, 2016 Jordan Larsen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military

If you’re a Military Working Dog handler or know someone who is currently serving as one, this 2011 Memoir is in your honor! Written by former Marine Mike Dowling and co-authored by Damian Lewis, “Sergeant Rex” is an unflinching no-holds-barred real life account of the unforgettable experiences shared by a Marine and his always faithful four-legged comrade in combat.
The story chronicles the life of Marine Lance Corporal Mike Dowling and his experiences in Iraq with Military Working Dog “Rex”.
Jun 05, 2015 Brigham rated it it was ok
This book was fine, despite the obvious advertising ploys, which almost upset me to the point of putting it down. I enjoyed the stories shared and I appreciate the portion of this man's life. I am even grateful he shared them with the world, for that, I commend him. That being said, from time to time I wondered who had edited this in pre-production? It felt like a vanity project from time to time, an effort to preserve his experiences for his future family, rather than an attempt at ...more
Michael Coustier
Nov 10, 2014 Michael Coustier rated it really liked it
I got what I wanted out of the book; i.e. description of dog training and how they're used in combat.
The author spends just enough time describing how the dogs are chosen, the amount of training they go thru and how their handlers are matched up.

The combat portion was interesting as it was the first time in 30 years ( since Vietnam ) that the Marines used K9's in combat deployment. There was actually new things to be learned by the handler and the dog - a small example was the rifles the Marines
Rossrn Nunamaker
How to review this one?

I've read a lot of military history and non-fiction about terrorism and insurgency.

I enjoy reading suspense and literary works.

I own a GSD and our last dog was a mix lab/GSD.

What struck me most about this book was the very simple fact that I couldn't imagine the level of fear/tension that took place as MWD Sergeant Rex and Mike Dowling, his handler, got out, exposed themselves to the enemy, and sought out IED's that were typically triggered by cell phones.

With landmines, y
Feb 20, 2014 Megan rated it it was amazing
This book has truly shown me the bond between a marine and his dog. The story Corporal Mike Dowling has written is his story about how he struggled in school but followed what he loved and his dream. With the conflict of his father being ill and worrying if he will live, Mike chose to go overseas and serve his country. From near misses and scary walks down allies; Dowling and his dog Rex have really changed/helped military working dogs. From messing around with each other to frightening moments, ...more
Mar 25, 2013 Emily rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lynn Pribus
May 19, 2012 Lynn Pribus rated it really liked it
The story of a young man who flunked out of college, but had long had in the back of his mind to become a Marine. Through some lucky happenstance he ends up as a K9 corporal -- he had always loved dogs -- and he is older than the others in his group, so is inclined to study more than party and ends up doing well.

This book is primarily about his time in Iraq with his MWD (Military Working Dog) and the perils and danger inherent in their assignment to search out IEDs and cached weapons and explosi
Doug Dams
Mar 03, 2013 Doug Dams rated it really liked it
This was a fun book to read. If you like dogs the bond between Rex and his handler Cpl Dowling is a good read. The book tells the story of Cpl Dowling and how he joined the Marines and how he ended up with the Military Working Dogs of the Marines. And of course he tells you all about Rex. Rex has been trained to detect explosives, ammo, weapons and also how to guard the perimeter. The story includes descriptions of their time in Iraq and how a dog with fur handles 130 degree heat, combat, stray ...more
Jan 27, 2012 josh rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: animal lovers, war historians, citizens needing to appreicate our soldiers
Recommended to josh by: shelf @ UAPL
this was an amazing story of teamwork, dedication, bravery, service, camaraderie and poise under pressure. LCpl Dowling highlights the importance of the bond / teamwork between a handler and their MWD (military working dog) and the intense loyalty that goes both ways: handler to mwd and mwd to handler. these animals are capable of unbelievable demonstrations of intelligence, bravery, endurance and accuracy.

it was a touching story and tried to capture the intensity of battle - which i don't thin
Feb 24, 2012 Ronie rated it it was amazing
As an author myself, I tend to be a bit more critical of books than others might be. At the same time, I also measure out a little extra grace for that reason. But I have to say, this is by far the BEST non-fiction book on military war dogs that I have read (and I've read a LOT (for research)). The events are detailed in a captivating, humorous narrative style that is both engaging and compelling. It's easy to breeze through a half-dozen chapters without batting an eye. TRULY--THE BEST book yet ...more
April Piff
Jan 13, 2014 April Piff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Sergeant Rex" written by Mike Dowling is an unbelievable story. Mike Dowling tells the story of how he became a marine, and how out of pure luck he was assigned to the K9 unit. Mike was assigned to the military working dog Rex, and went through training with him. One scene that is memorable is when Rex and Mike are in their first full on fire fight. Rex and Mike are on their way to clear a route from IED's for the soldiers and humvees, when the insurgients start to shoot at the US military. One ...more
Randy Daugherty
Apr 10, 2012 Randy Daugherty rated it it was amazing
Sergeant Rex - Mike Dowling

Enlisting in the Marine Corps. in 2001 and deployed to Iraqi in 2004, Mike and Rex were one of the first Military dog teams to be in use since the Vietnam War.
As Mike like to say,"they were the Guinea pigs". No one really knew what to do with them or how to use them to their full potential.Mike and Rex learned as they went and showed just what good they could do and the lives that could be saved.
This is a dog story, it is about the bonding of Rex and Mike and how they
Feb 28, 2013 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book that combines two of my loves - my beloved Marine Corps and dogs. Marine Mike Dowling and his Marine Dog become 'guinea' pigs for the military in using dogs to combat the IUD's that are threatening Marines and Soldier's lives, since dogs haven't been used since the Vietnam era.

The reader will encounter war through both the Marine's eyes. Sergeant Rex and Dowling saved countless lives with their brave efforts on the battlefield. As I remember reading the book, their efforts as guinea
Apr 19, 2012 Rebecca rated it liked it
Shelves: dog
Wanna get me to cry? Show me a video of a dog welcoming home a person in uniform. The dogs go berserk and the person always ends up in tears. Okay, so this book doesn't have anything to do with that particular thing, it's sort of close. This book was a first person account on working in the military with a dog and how useful they are. I really enjoyed this book a lot. It was a very simple book though I glossed over most of the names and locations because after a while everything just sounded the ...more
Corp Mike Dowling and his military working dog Rex were part of the first Marine K9 teams in country in Iraq in 2004. Tasked with weapons and explosive search and seizure, Dowling and Rex walked in front of the tip of the spear.

Why I started this book: Looked great and the military working dog was a perfect match for the Summer Reading theme "Paws to Read."

Why I finished it: Dowling skipped around a lot in his story. Maybe it worked better in print, but I was a little confused and frustrated whe
Braydon Brockett
Mar 19, 2012 Braydon Brockett rated it it was amazing
This was a good book and it talks about how the working dogs help out the men and women in the armed forces over in Afghanistan. This book is about a small German shepherd who was trained to sniff out bombs and bomb making materials under the ground and inside houses. This dog was paired with a handler and shipped off to Afghanistan to a small base where they were in the triangle of death. This base was right next to the place that IED alley where most of the IED were planed. This book maps the ...more
May 11, 2015 Josh rated it it was amazing
In the 9 months Rex and Mike were in Iraq I think that the bridge was the most intense part. I think the fact that his life was on the line day in and day out (because insurgents targeted him the most) caused him to write about his Iraq tour. The bridge, the flashbacks to the boot camp and Rex, and the IED hunting. All in all I loved this book, I would recommend it to dog lovers. It shows probably the closest bond between dog and man. Like I said I would recommend this book to everyone who has a ...more
May 20, 2013 Gbunny64 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book a long time ago -- but forgot to mark it as "read". This was a great book. It was cool to read about Rex's training at Camp Pendleton and the bond between dog and trainer was so amazing. At times I was on the edge of my seat when they were in danger, but they were able to finish their job without any harm coming to them!

I heard that Sergeant Rex passed away in December : ( He had officially "retired" last year and was living in New England with one of his trainers after she
Jul 20, 2013 Lauren rated it it was amazing
This book was so good. Maybe it's because I grew up in a military family, but the story was fascinating. The author, Dowling, explained all the military terms he used, so the language was easy to understand. The story itself was suspenseful, funny, and clearly full of emotion. The relationship Dowling has with his dog is heart warming. I put this book under my regular favorites instead of absolute favorites because I'm not sure I would read it again but it definitely deserves 5 stars and a place ...more
Deon Stonehouse
If you have ever wondered about the dogs that go to war, Sergeant Rex is a fascinating book about a charismatic canine who served in Iraq. I liked Dowling’s description of Rex: “…the most crazy, aggressive but calm, stubborn, loyal, dedicated, obedient, courageous, devilishly handsome son of a bitch I have ever had the honor of serving with. We did it bud. Seek, Seek, Seek.” Their day to day lives in hostile territory, the missions they carried out, and the bond between handler and dog make for ...more
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