If  somehow you haven't heard, April 11 is National Pet Day.

And that means it's the best time of the year. You're welcome (nay, encouraged) to share stories about your first canine companion or feline familiar. And where did your hamster come from, anyway? Are you always being told you share too many pictures of your guinea pigs online? (I am.)

Well, on National Pet Day, that's all forgiven and forgotten. Besides, if Facebook's gonna violate your privacy, you may as well inundate their servers with 27 nearly identical pictures of your cat stretching. Without further ado, here is my rabbit, Ms. Cleo, just chilling like it's her job. (Which it is.)


And here are my guinea pigs, Buddy and Andy, being coaxed into a "Little Mermaid" themed photo shoot. (This image cost me four bell pepper slices).

Lest you think this is just some elaborate ploy to post pictures of my animals on the internet (My editor said it was OK. Post yours in response. My DMs are open.), I have some unfortunate news: Nothing you share will be as awesome as what I'm about to show you.

Because this has all been a preamble to what may be the most heartwarming video of all time.

Captain America himself, aka actor Chris Evans, has posted a video of the first time he met his best friend Dodger.

Are you ready for this? Here's hoping you're a) sitting down and b) in a place that's not teeming with dust. Because there's about to be something in your eye.

Evans met Dodger when he was shooting "Gifted." And as soon as they saw each other, they knew it was forever.

“One of the last scenes we were filming was in a pound, a kennel,” he told People. “I foolishly walked in and I thought, ‘Are these actor dogs or are these real up for adoption dogs?’ And sure enough they were, so I was walking up and down the aisles and saw this one dude and he didn’t belong there. I snagged him and he’s such a good dog."

"They aged him at about one, he acts like a puppy, he’s got the energy of a puppy, he’s just such a sweetheart, he’s such a good boy. He loves dogs, he loves kids, he’s full of love.”

I'm not crying, you're crying. (OK, fine, maybe I am crying.)

Of course, this isn't the first time Evans has shared his dog with the world. In fact, Dodger's a frequent presence on Evans' twitter.

Here he is singing:

Here he is looking handsome:

And here are some of Evans' and Dodger's glamour shots:

The two can't bear to be apart.

Beyond the cuteness of the video, though, there's an important message: So many rescue animals need your love.

"Rescue dogs are the best dogs," Evans says in his post. And whether or not you share his opinion, the reality is there are lots of shelter pets looking for a loving forever home.

According to the ASPCA, roughly 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters each year. That number's declined steadily from 2011 (thanks to people like Evans), but there are still an estimated 3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats waiting for someone to love them. 3.2 million animals are adopted annually, but that number's got to grow. How could you say no to a face like Dodger's?

(The correct answer is that you can't.)

Rescuing an animal is also beneficial for you.

Let's get this out of the way: Adopting an animal isn't just good for the animal, it's good for everyone. According to the Humane Society of the United States, too many adoptable animals are euthanized in shelters because too few people think about adoption when they're looking for a pet.

And when you adopt an animal, you're not just saving its life, you're also fighting puppy mills — "factory-style breeding facilities" that usually focus  more on the dollar, not an animal's welfare. By adopting, the Humane Society notes, "you can be certain you aren't giving them a dime." And taking an animal in makes room for others to be helped too. So you're saving more than just the life of your new best friend.

Plus, adoption's also good for your health. Studies show that people who own dogs and cats are happier (less stress), healthier (cat owners have been found to have a lower risk of heart problems), and may even have an easier time finding romance (you know, if the love of a good dog just isn't enough).

But don't just take my word for it. The response to Evans' post has been adorably explosive, with many sharing photos of their own rescued friends.

After Evans posted his video, thousands of people began sharing pictures of their pets too. Click here and get ready to say "Awww," because your day is about to get a whole lot better.

Your day's better, right? It's better.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

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How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

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That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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