This week, TODAY welcomed a special addition to the show’s family: an 8-week-old adorable puppy.
Besides providing lots of kisses and laughs, the black Labrador will serve an important purpose. He is training to support a veteran, both emotionally and physically. TODAY teamed up with America’s VetDogs to help this puppy fulfill this purpose. The nonprofit’s mission is “to help those who have served our country honorably live with dignity and independence.”
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Related: ‘Property Brothers’ Build TODAY Show Dog an Amazing Play Area Trainer Olivia Poff will be teaching the puppy basic commands — like heel, sit, stay — before going into more challenging ones. There are more than 200 tasks VetDogs can teach dogs and what is taught will depend on the specific needs of the veteran the dog is partnered with. It will take 16 months to train the puppy before he is ready to meet his match. “It takes patience and time management,” Poff told TODAY.com “It doesn’t work as a light switch where half the time you’re training and half the time you’re not. That puppy is learning 100 percent of the time.” Still not named yet, the adorable puppy is replacing the TODAY show’s first puppy with a purpose: Wrangler. The yellow Labrador was welcomed to the show in January of 2015 and was trained to be a guide dog for the blind through the New York nonprofit Guiding Eyes for the Blind. The pup moved on to the advanced training after staying with the crew for 14 months.
Graduation day! Thank you, @todayshow! #todayshow #todaypuppy #WeLoveWrangler (photo: Samantha Okazaki / TODAY) A photo posted by TODAY Puppy (@todaypuppy) on
To train the newest addition to the TODAY show costs $50,000. Fortunately, VetDogs picks up the whole tab thanks to outside donations.