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'Today' teams up with America's VetDogs to help raise service dog for disabled veteran
NBC's "Today" welcomed Charlie, a new "puppy with a purpose" Monday morning to follow in the paw prints of Wrangler, the show's first service-dog-in-training.
The new puppy, an 8-week old male black Labrador retriever, is from America's VetDogs, a nonprofit organization that provides trained service and guide dogs to veterans and first responders with disabilities. For 16 months, the "Today" show anchors and staff will be part of the organization's "puppy raising team" to help the puppy become a service dog.
With the guidance of an experienced dog handler, the "Today" team will help raise and train the puppy in Studio 1A during the show. At the end of 16 months, the puppy will continue its formal service dog training with a certified instructor from America's VetDogs, and will be matched with a disabled veteran.
"Today" asked viewers to help choose the puppy's name by casting their votes on today.com. The name was announced on the show Tuesday.
Viewers are encouraged to track the puppy's progress on social media, by following the username @TodayPuppy on both Twitter and Instagram.
"We are excited to enlist 'Today' as part of our training team," said VetDogs CEO Wells B. Jones. "The puppy will be exposed to an amazing variety of experiences that will allow him grow up to be comfortable and confident in just about every situation. When it's time, that confidence will help a veteran conquer the challenges they face."
To watch the welcome segment, visit http://www.today.com/pets/he-s-here-vote-new-today-show-puppy-s-name-t101724. For more information on Wrangler, "Today's" service-dog-in-training from January 2015 to March 2016, visit http://www.today.com/pets/everything-you-need-know-about-wrangler-todays-puppy-purpose-t5296.
Charlie (NBC photo)