Today’s puppy with a purpose

Courtesy of Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

On Monday, the Today show introduced an incredibly adorable puppy who they will follow through the process of becoming a service dog.

The pup is slated to go to a U.S. navy hospital corps man who was injured by an IED while serving as a field medic in Iraq in 2004. Joe Worley was rushing to assist fellow soldiers when an IED exploded, causing him to lose his left leg. Over the course of the next year, he would require multiple operations. Joe was introduced to a very special dog named Duce by Walter Reed Medical Center, and he knew immediately that his life would never be the same.  The experience led Joe to apply for a service dog of his own, and it was then that he was introduced to Benjamin.

Courtesy of Nathan Congleton / TODAY
Courtesy of Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Benjamin and Joe bonded quickly. Joe relied on Benjamin heavily after he was fitted for his prosthetic leg, and Benjamin was always by his side to assist him with balancing and mobility. When Joe would drop things and become frustrated, Benjamin was there to retrieve them. But Benjamin’s greatest service of course, has been the companionship and security he has provided Joe. Ten years later, he is still by Joe’s side.

Benjamin’s age however has Joe worried that he may no longer be able to keep up with the physical demands of the job. As he ages, he becomes more prone to injury, and Joe would like Benjamin to be able to retire happily and live out the rest of his years with their family. Joe recently contacted America’s VetDogs, an incredible organization devoted to training dogs to assist injured service members, enabling them to lead more fulfilling lives. He has applied for another dog, which is where this adorable little 8 week-old lab puppy comes in.

Courtesy of Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
Courtesy of Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

Meet Charlie!!

Courtesy of Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
Courtesy of Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

Let’s hope this lad has like a body guard or something because he is just asking to be stolen with that cute little everything of his.

Over the next 16 months, we will watch Charlie as he goes through an intensive training program to be the service dog that Joe needs. Olivia Poff is the dedicated VetDog’s trainer who will be with Charlie every step of the way and teach him what he needs to know.

Charlie has some big shoes to fill after America fell in love with Wrangler, the puppy with a purpose previously featured on the Today show.  Wrangler recently wrapped up the first portion of his training, and will now go on to become a guide dog.

In addition to enjoying all of these puppy antics, the segments are meant to bring attention to charitable organizations, such as VetDog’s, who provide the intensive training needed for these future service animals. The training and placement of one service dog can cost as much as $50,000. A small price to pay when once considers the value that these dogs add to the lives of their owners. None-the-less, it requires a significant amount of resources and limits the number of veterans who are able to obtain a dog. Because of very generous donations by corporations and individuals, VetDog’s is able to provide their services at no charge to the client. Services that are priceless- just ask Joe.

If you would like to volunteer with VetDogs or make a donation, visit their website.


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