It’s a day more exciting and definitely more furry than the Oscars nominations announcement. Today is the day the Today show introduced the world to their third Puppy with a Purpose.
The yellow Labrador from the Guide Dog Foundation trotted out on the Studio 1A stage Monday morning, and he brought some friends. Joining the currently unnamed pup were his four adorable litter mates, who will be joining local NBC affiliate stations as their Puppies with a Purpose.
Three of the five, including the Today show pup, are training to be guide dogs through the Guide Dog Foundation, while the other two are working toward becoming service animals through the foundation sister organization America’s VetDogs.
Those as obsessed with dogs as we are might remember that Charlie, the Today show’s last puppy, was from America’s VetDogs. He is now living with his handler and is a “major success,” according to trainer Olivia Poff.
Poff, a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor at the Guide Dog Foundation, has been tasked with the special duty of training the new TODAY show pup, and that “training” starts now.
“Believe it or not, we can start training —if we want to us the word training — at 8 weeks,” Poff told PEOPLE. “They can start learning their names, which people are going to vote on shortly, and start learning house manners and house breaking.”
Today is leaving the baby dog’s name up to America. Fans can pick from four choices — Lucky, Sunny, Mic and Goldie — and cast their vote at the show’s webpage for the pup.
And while Poff will be on set with the puppy at the Today show at least four mornings a week, she made it clear that it takes an entire studio to raise a puppy with a purpose.
“This is the a group effort. All the people behind the camera and in front of the camera contribute to the dog’s success,” she explained.
All of this hands-on learning is vital for making sure the puppy grows into a “happy, eager, and enthusiastic” dog.
“We are working on building the foundation that all the advanced work will be built upon,” Poff said. “We are looking for a confident puppy that is eager to be out in the world because a dog that feels safe and secure does the best work.”
Pup lovers can keep track of the new Puppy with a Purpose’s progress on Twitter and Instagram @TodayPuppy and find more updates on the little dog and all his siblings on the social media accounts for The Guide Dog Foundation (@guidedogfoundation) and America’s VetDogs (@AmericasVetDogs).
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If that still isn’t enough, Poff recommends checking out volunteer.guidedog.org, where fans can learn about puppy-raising, other volunteer opportunities and donations.
It was through volunteering that Poff ended up with this dream job.
“I came across a volunteer puppy raiser on the campus going to the bus stop with this little golden retriever puppy and he was so fluffy and was just trotting confidently to the bus stop,” she recalled, “and I just pointed at her and said ‘I want to do that’.”