Top dogs don’t always start out that way. Sometimes being guided by a noble purpose is all it takes to rise in the ranks — whether you are a human or an actual canine. Such was the case for a German shepherd named Sgt. Rex and Megan Leavey, a young female marine. As both were assigned to a number of battlefields in the Middle East, their stars aligned as these two soul mates evolved from lost causes to high-stakes fighting duo.
Dogs are considered by many animal behaviorists as superhuman . . . erh, supercanine. They have acute visual and olfactory sensory capabilities that far exceed humans, and they can often subdue or intimidate a foe more quickly using non-lethal force. Based on these innate traits, they have proven themselves successful for military duty time-and-time again, having assumed various roles in the armed forces, for over a century.
In the War on Terror, today’s ‘new normal’ includes an ongoing threat of explosives hidden on a person, in a vehicle, or roadside location. ‘Explosives Detection’ dogs are trained to alert based on the scent of chemicals used in explosives. With their superior sense of smell, it is very difficult to package explosives in a way a dog cannot detect. These highly trained canines are deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and in many other zones experiencing conflict.
The new movie ‘Megan Leavey’ is a true story about a young female marine who is seeking purpose in military service. Awkward around people, she finds a soul-mate with a ferocious German shepherd name name Sgt. Rex. Like herself, this bomb-sifting K-9 was initially considered a lost cause.
That change however for both of them.
Together, they experienced more than 100 missions in Iraq seeking out explosives that would have otherwise maimed or killed their fellow Marines. In 2005, they were deployed to Fallujah for 7 months and to Ramadi in 2006. It was during the second deployment, they were both injured by a makeshift explosive device.
After recuperation, Leavey was discharged from the Marines in December, 2007 and returned home, she always felt a piece of her remained on the battlefield with her beloved army co-combatant.
It would take roughly four more years until Leavey and Sgt. Rex would reunite. The only reason the military let Rex go was because he had developed facial palsy, a nerve paralysis that left him no longer able to function effectively as a bomb-sniffing dog. The story had caught the attention of Yankees owner Randy Levine and his wife Mindy, who helped Leavey bring Rex home.
After not having been allowed to adopt him for four years, Megan Leavey was reunited with her former companion in the spring of 2012, when he was officially discharged. Happily, they spent eight months together before Rex died on the morning of December 22, 2012. Tearfully, his best friend Leavey was by his side.
You can take a bigger bite into the Megan Leavey/Sgt. Rex story by watching the video preview below — including the two of them being honored at Yankee Stadium — or at a local movie theater near you this summer.