Rex is OK (and famous)! Des Moines dog shot while protecting owner is thriving

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DES MOINES, Wash. -- It's been a long road to recovery for Rex, the hero dog that helped save a 16-year-old boy during a violent home invasion.

But he's ready to celebrate a milestone, his owner Julia Cadena said.

His birthday.

"He's having a birthday party Saturday," Cadena said. "It will be him and some of his dog friends."

Rex was home in mid-Feburary with Cadena's 16-year-old son, Javier, when two men broke into the home. Javier ran upstairs and hid in a closet, and Rex barked and tried to stop the intruders. The German Shephard took three bullets while protecting Javier. Police were called and the suspects ran.

Rex was rushed into surgery, and despite the odds, lived. Since Rex returned home from the vet in late February, he's been doing much better, Cadena said.

Rex's physical wounds have almost completely healed. He meets with dog behavior consultants on a regular basis, and his mood has improved dramatically. Shortly after the shooting he was nervous, barking at shoes and staying away from loud crowds.

He still barks a bit, but his mood has stabilized.

"He's in transition from the way he was after the shooting to the way he used to be," Cadena said.

Rex has become a bit of a local celebrity. Following the shooting, Blue Buffalo gave Rex a year's supply of dog food and treats. He gets free shampooing in Des Moines, and everywhere he goes, he's recognized.

"He gets a lot of things," Cadena said.

In October, the German Shepherd Dog Club of America is flying Rex and the Cadena family to Missouri for the organization's yearly awards banquet.

Julia, Javier and the Cadena family have also been improving since the home invasion. The family is moving to a new apartment soon.

No suspects have been caught in the home invasion.