Spending 12 years working in Air Force security was a dog’s life but at least when Rex relinquishes his badge Thursday, he’s to get full military honors.

Not to mention a cushy retirement job as a family pet.

Rex, a military working dog, is to be given an official retirement ceremony at Yokota Air Base in Japan.

A Belgian Malinois, he was born in 1992 and started his training in 1994 as a narcotics detector dog. He arrived at Yokota in March 1995 to work for the 374th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog Section.

And he became the first certified dog in the Pacific region to detect the drug Ecstasy, said Tech. Sgt. Jean LeBlanc, who works in the squadron.

Rex has had several handlers, said Tech. Sgt. Gerald Dion; the most recent one rotated out of Yokota more than a year ago.

Rex was not assigned another handler after that because it was time to begin his transition out of the military.

Thursday’s ceremony will be conducted in the same fashion as ceremonies for humans who leave the military, Dion said, including the posting of the flags, the playing of the national anthem and a reading of Rex’s biography.

The ceremony also will feature a change of duty between Rex and his replacement, Elra.

Elra will be given Rex’s badge, signifying that Rex’s military service officially is complete.

Elra is a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois who came to Yokota in March and will be one of seven dogs assigned to the security squadron.

Dion will be Rex’s handler for the ceremony. Elra’s handler is Staff Sgt. Matthew Claxton. The ceremony is to take place at 2:30 p.m. at the Yokota Base Theater.

Once retired, Rex will remain in Japan in his new role as house pet, thanks to a Yokota family who has adopted him, LeBlanc said.

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