The world was recently introduced to Sunny, the newest Today show Puppy with a Purpose.
The adorable yellow Labrador is from The Guide Dog Foundation and will be training with the staff of Studio 1A and trainer Olivia Poff at least four days a week on set.
Once the 8-week-old puppy completes all of his training, which usually take 16-18 months, he will be given to a visually-impaired person free of charge, helping that individual gain a new found sense of freedom.
He is following in some pretty big paw prints. The two Puppies with a Purpose that came before him are already off doing amazing work that is helping others and saving lives.
The most recent furry Today show alum, who came from America’s VetDogs, is living with his handler, veteran Stacey Pearsall. Every day Charlie helps Pearsall, a former staff sergeant and aerial combat photojournalist for the United States Air Force, handle her post traumatic stress and cope with the effects of the cervical spine trauma and traumatic brain injury she sustained during her service.
“When I am feeling imbalanced, because of neurological issues, he offers a counter balance,” Pearsall told PEOPLE about one of the many services Charlie offers.
The black Lab is also helping other veterans too. In 2008, Pearsall started the Veterans Portrait Project, a photography project that has taken her around the country to photograph and honor the veterans who have given so much. Now, Charlie accompanies her on these trips to visit those who have served, and Pearsall often finds that the other veterans take comfort in Charlie too.
“It’s really nice to see him rest his head on the lap of a veteran who is crying,” she said.
The first Today show Puppy with a Purpose came from Guiding Eyes for the Blind. After his days training on the show were through, he went on to become a detection dog with the Connecticut State Police.
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Guiding Eyes for the Blind always tries to place their dogs in roles where they will shine. Wrangler turned out to be better suited to sniffing out trouble over being a guide dog. He graduated from his detection dog program in December 2017. He is currently part of a K-9 unit specializing in explosive detection. Wrangler works in the Mass Transit Unit patrolling trains stations from New Haven, Connecticut, to New York City alongside Trooper First Class Kevin Reed.