His nickname was "Fluffy," but if former O'Fallon, Mo., police dog Rex was on your trail, you were running from one of the best.
On Monday local K-9 officers and O'Fallon, Mo., police department officers followed Rex to pay their respects at his final resting place at the East-West Police K-9 training grounds and cemetery in Sauget.
Shedding tears and getting hugs from his fellow officers, Rex's hander, patrolman Keith Lewis, spoke during the funeral for Rex and later spoke of how special Rex was.
"He was a phenomenal dog. Amazing. He saved my life at least two times," Lewis said.
Once Lewis was being attacked by a man with multiple knives, but Rex took him down. Another time Lewis and Rex were pursuing a man who had eluded Lewis, but Rex found the man hiding in a pile of leaves with a rifle and night-vision goggles.
"That dog saves our life. We save the dog's life. It's a team. These dogs give us everything they've got," said O'Fallon, Mo., Police K-9 officer Tom Thompson, who spoke during the service.
Rex was on the job with Lewis in Missouri from 2001 to 2009. In addition to serving the community, the German long-haired shepherd won multiple regional and national awards.
Rex finished seventh in the national rankings at the 2002 United States Police Canine Association trials and also won top regional honors in 2004, 2005 and 2007.
"He wasn't going against a bunch of slobs. They were a damn good bunch of dogs. And Rex smoked 'em. This is one hell of a good dog," said Caseyville Police Sgt. Frank Moore, who is involved with the East-West Police K-9 group.
Rex retired in 2009 and stayed with Lewis and his family. Lewis also retired from being a K-9 officer, partly because being a K-9 officer is very demanding.
Lewis remains a patrolman and still trains and certifies police dogs.
"These dogs work hard and they get knocked around," Lewis said. Rex had been suffering with his issues from herniated disks as well as a degenerative neurological disorder which necessitated that the 12-year-old be put to sleep early Monday morning. His final resting place in Sauget is with other police dogs, within sight of where future generations of police dogs will train.