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Rex saved his partner's life. And then, years later, she saved him.

'I've taken care of him. He's taken care of me. It's a bond you can’t break.'

Rex saved his partner's life. And then, years later, she saved him.
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Megan Leavey

When Megan Leavey first met Sgt. Rex — a bomb-detecting German shepherd — they got off to a rocky start.

But through training, the pair worked long and hard to gain each others' trust — a trust that would be tested in over 100 missions after they deployed together as a bomb-detection team in Iraq.

Over the course of two six-month tours, Rex and Megan worked together to find undetonated explosives, saving each other and their team from danger. In 2006, they were working a routine sweep when an enemy detonated a roadside bomb, injuring Rex and nearly killing Megan in the explosion.


From the time they were first paired up, Megan and Rex were inseparable — that is, until Megan was discharged and Rex was not.

While Megan's service commitment ended in 2008, Rex was ready for another deployment. Megan returned home, and he went back to Iraq.

The pair's journey — and Megan's public campaign to petition the Marines to let her adopt Rex — are the subject of a moving new film called "Megan Leavey," starring Kate Mara:

After hundreds of missions and two tours in Iraq, Megan Leavey and her bomb-sniffing dog Rex formed a lifelong bond. This is their story.

Posted by Upworthy Video on Wednesday, May 31, 2017

This movie goes beyond Megan's life with Rex; it’s also a glimpse into the incredible world of war dogs who have been supporting militaries around the globe for hundreds of years.

Humans have been bringing dogs alongside them into wars basically since the beginning of time. From the armored attack dogs of the ancient world to the trackers and bomb-sniffers of the modern military, dogs have been saving human lives for centuries.

"They aren't pets. They're warriors," Megan's gunnery sergeant (played by Common) tells her in the trailer. And though many war dogs eventually find civilian homes, their time in the service brands them unquestionably as heroes.

Spc. Kory Wiels and his military dog, Cooper, take a break after searching a house for weapons and homemade explosives in Baghdad. Photo by Spc. Olanrewaju Akinwunmi/U.S. Army.

It's impossible to say how many lives are saved with the enlistment of each new military animal, but there's no denying that they're invaluable assets to the branches they serve. The military actually incorporates a non-commissioned officer title into every dog’s name, always one rank higher than its human handler. It's a tradition that reminds handlers to enter into their canine relationship with respect.

Liaka, a Dutch shepherd, is led through the streets of Iraq during a mission. Petty Officer 2nd Class Todd Frantom/U.S. Navy.

Dogs enter into the line of fire to save their human handlers, protecting them in a conflict and scouting for explosives off-leash. Many lose their lives, which is why the military frequently gives fallen war dogs a hero's funeral.

U.S. Army Sgt. Ingram gives Staff Sgt. Cinte a drink. Photo by Pfc. Julian Turner/U.S. Army.

Despite their service, the respect and appreciation we have for war dogs for many years wasn't backed up by the necessary legislation.

Technically, military dogs are categorized as equipment. For a long time, when a dog became unable to continue service due to injury or age, they were considered "surplus." Sadly, military dogs were put down or left behind instead of being retired with honor like the warriors they were. It wasn't until 2000 that Robby's Law was passed and military working dogs were allowed to be adopted at the end of their service.

For Rex and Megan, the laws on the books weren't enough to reunite them.

Though Robby's Law made it possible for military dogs to be sent home and put up for adoption, the professionals at Camp Pendleton kennel in California doubted Rex's ability to acclimate to civilian life.

Megan knew she could provide her former partner a happy retirement, so she began a public crusade to persuade the Marines to let her adopt Rex.

Even U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer got involved, reaching out to the military on her behalf and launching a petition for people who "agree that these two American heroes should be reunited with all due speed."

Megan was finally able to take Rex home in March 2012, and he lived happily with his partner before passing away peacefully.

Their fight was also a contributing force to the movement that ultimately resulted in a law passed in 2015 that allows all military dogs to retire in the United States and gives their former handlers the first chance to adopt them.

Megan wrote:

"Rex got to swim in a pool and play with my other dogs. He got to roam the yard & bark at deer, play with as many toys as he wanted all day everyday, sleep in a cozy bed next to me every night, chase and eventually make friends with my 2 cats, enjoy & play in his first snowfall … and so much other great stuff that he would have never had the chance to do if he was never retired."

Rex's final days were a fitting end to a life of service to the military, the country, and his partner.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.