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Monday, March 3, 2014
Army vet hopes to reunite with NYPD war dog
The former handler of the first military dog adopted by the NYPD is hoping to reunite with his long-lost war buddy after spotting the pooch’s mug in The New York Post.
Retired Army vet Brian Connelly, who served with bomb-sniffing pooch Cezar in Afghanistan, was elated when he recognized his old pal’s picture in a Feb. 21 Post story.
“I just knew it was Cezar,” Connelly said.
“The way his look was veering off [in the photo], it looked like he was going to go after something. He’s a funny dog. He likes to stalk things . . . He would crouch down like a tiger and go after it.”
The retired National Guard Infantry sergeant handled the 4-year-old German shepherd during one of his three tours overseas. But the two were separated when their deployment ended in 2012.
Now a cop himself in Columbus, Ohio, Connelly said he was happy to see Cezar with the NYPD’s Transit Crime Unit, but he wished he could see his old friend again.
“It’s sad because I miss my puppy, but I’m glad he’s able to work and do what he loves,” Connelly said.
The duo first met in September 2011 at a training facility in Indiana that prepares dogs for work in war zones.
They were matched and completed their training together before shipping off to Afghanistan, where Cezar helped secure roads by sniffing for explosives.
“He was out there searching for what he thought was a toy,” Connelly said. “He didn’t know that a toy he was coming up on might be a bomb or ammonium nitrate.”
Cezar once saved a squad of Navy SEALs when he detected two bombs yards from their camp, Connelly said.
He said he expects Cezar will make the NYPD proud and serve the city just as dutifully as he did his country.
“I think the enemy was afraid of him,” Connelly said. “He gives off this nice and curious personality, but he knows who [his handler] doesn’t like, and if there is someone suspicious, he will do anything to chew them up.”
Connelly said he wanted to adopt Cezar but was told that, as long as they are fit to serve, veteran dogs are offered to law enforcement first.
But now that he knows his buddy’s whereabouts, Connelly is eager to pay a visit to Cezar and his new handler, Officer Juan Rodriguez, who is also a military veteran.
Cezar is on track to be adopted by his handler after his run with the Finest. But if Rodriguez can’t take him, Connelly’s door is open.
“I would love to adopt him,” he said. “I love dogs.”