Wrangler the yellow Labrador retriever made his debut on the Today Show in 2015, putting a national spotlight on the important work of guide dogs. He starred as the show's first Puppy with a Purpose, and went on to graduate from Guiding Eyes for the Blind, becoming a working service dog for a blind or visually impaired person.
The news broke this week that the beloved pup had crossed Over the Rainbow Bridge to the great beyond. His original handler, Saxon Eastman, shared the sad news on Instagram on Sunday. "In his short life, he did more than most people could dream of," she wrote. In fact, his story inspired many large companies and professional sports teams to adopt and raise puppy-in-training guide and service dogs before they head off to Puppy College for more advanced training.
Eastman wrote that a couple of weeks ago, she received word that Wrangler had passed his final exam to become a fully-fledged guide dog. Then, he was paired with blind SCU music professor Bill Stevens for his new career as a "Puppy with a Mission."
The two hit it off right away, and over the past few months, Wrangler has joined Stevens on his daily walks around campus (block by block)—and helped him learn to adjust to walking with a different dog than his previous guide, Tighlman. They also play music together, including this new arrangement of Wayne Shorter's tunes, and are scheduled to perform Jan. 26 in the SCU Music Recital Hall.