Rex, the retired police dog, cops a new owner |

Rex, the retired police dog, cops a new owner

Post Independent Photo/Kara K. Pearson W/ CD STORY Tom Gambell throws the ball Thursday for his adopted German Shephard, Rex - a former police dog who was taken off duty due to a heart defect. Gambell has had Rex for about two months.

Rex the retired police dog has gone from sniffing drugs to chasing balls with his new owner.”He’s a prince. He’s more a pussycat than he is a dog,” said owner Tom Gambell, a retired member of the police force in Chicago. “We’ve become very attached.”

Rex, a 3-year-old German shepherd, worked with his partner, officer Scott Wilhelm of the Carbondale Police Department, until a heart condition pulled him from active duty earlier this year.Wilhelm and others at the police department began a search for a permanent home for Rex in May, notifying the public through an article in the Post Independent. Gambell saw the article, and because he missed having a German shepherd around after many years as a canine officer and trainer, he called Wilhelm.”He had so much experience with handling a canine, he was our best choice,” Wilhelm said.

Gambell adopted Rex in late May, and since then he’s been playing with Gambell’s adoring 11-year-old daughter and staying clear of the cats on Gambell’s property west of Canyon Creek. Rex takes medication twice a day and eats a special diet for his heart condition, but otherwise acts like a normal dog, Gambell said.As for Wilhelm, he also has a new partner, 18-month-old Frankie, a German shepherd with a “lot of puppy and a lot of personality,” Wilhelm said. Frankie came from Hungary and was trained in Pennsylvania like Rex, and in August he and Wilhelm will become a certified narcotic-tracking team. Wilhelm expects Frankie to be a great drug-sniffing canine, he said, but he still won’t take the place of Rex.”A shepherd’s the best all-around dog for police work,” Gambell said. Apparently, they’re also great companions.

“He’s my buddy,” Gambell said.Contact Christine Dell’Amore: 945-8515, ext.

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