The Today show has said goodbye to one of their beloved service dogs named Wrangler, who has died at the age of 6.
His handler, Saxon Eastman, announced on Instagram that the Labrador retriever died on Saturday night after struggling with liver disease. "I'm sad to write that last night Wrangler passed away suddenly from liver disease," she wrote. "In his short 6 years, Wrangler did more than most humans."
"He started a wave of national media coverage for guide and service dogs, he worked as a guide dog, and most importantly, he protected thousands of people every day as a Connecticut State Police Explosives Detection K9," Eastman continued.
When he was just ten weeks old, Wrangler was the first-ever "Puppy with A Purpose" introduced onto Today back in 2015. The show documented his training to become a guide dog, in partnership with Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a New York nonprofit organization.
"To me, Wrangler was my super early morning buddy," Eastman wrote. "He had the most perfectly squishable neck rolls. He rarely caught the ball, but never stopped trying. He was one of the few Labs I know who wasn't fickle with his love. And I know that my life would look very different today if he hadn't been a part of it."
Today producer Sandy Lee also paid a tribute to the pup on Twitter, explaining how he enriched her life. "Ugh, heartbroken. Wrangler was the best co-worker and such a sweet boy. He lit up the studio with joy and helped me through some tough work times. Thank you, Wrangler, for your service and your friendship," she wrote. "I hope heaven has endless treats for you."
Ugh, heartbroken. Wrangler was the best co-worker and such a sweet boy. He lit up the studio with joy and helped me through some tough work times. Thank you, Wrangler, for your service and your friendship. 🐶 I hope heaven has endless treats for you. 🐾 https://t.co/TIF0EsnrYP
— SandyLeeTV (@SandyLeeTV) July 19, 2021
In December 2019, Wrangler graduated from the Connecticut State Police detection dog program, specializing in detecting explosives. Trooper Kevin Reed was partnered with the pooch in the Mass Transit Unit, patrolling trains and train stations, from New Haven and Connecticut to New York City.
"I'm so grateful to Kevin and his family for giving Wrangler the most incredible life, and for loving him so much," Eastman concluded. "It's never lost on me how lucky I am to have known this dog. Love you, Wrangles."
Other fans of the good boy gave their condolences online...
One Instagram user wrote: "So sorry to hear this. Wrangler is the yellow lab that helped me to decide to add a yellow lab to my family. I followed along on his journey since he was the Today Show puppy. I know he was a sweet, special boy and very brave in his short 6 years."
"I'm so sorry for your loss. Wrangler touched so many lives and taught countless people about service dogs. He inspired dog owners to see and value the work their dogs can do. His reward will be great. He was so loved and will always be loved. Rest In Peace, good boy," another commented.
Rest in Peace, Wrangler.