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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.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less