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Charlie's going home! Here's how America's VetDogs matched him with a veteran

by Olivia Poff / / Source: TODAY
TODAY puppy Charlie meets military veteran Stacy Pearsall.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

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It was paws-sibly the best day of Charlie's career! For the first time, our favorite little service-dog-in-training got to meet Stacy Pearsall, the veteran he will be assisting upon completion of his training program.

 Over the last 14 months, TODAY puppy Charlie has grown into a full-fledged service dog in training. Watch the emotional moment that Charlie meets the new teammate he has been trained to work with: military veteran Stacy Pearsall. Nathan Congleton / TODAY

As a member of the training team at America’s VetDogs, I can say that one of my favorite parts of the job is what we call the matching process.

To start, we review the temperament and strengths of the dogs that are nearing the end of their formal guide or service dog training.

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Luckily for Charlie, being exposed to so much (everything from moving sets to celebs!) at TODAY has really helped prepare him for a career that's constantly evolving.

He's comfortable in crowds and thrives in stimuli-rich environments. He has unique stamina for active days and a lot of travel. Charlie easily transitions from city to rural environments and back again.

Next, we review the list of veterans who have been accepted into our program and are eagerly awaiting their assistance dog. The wait time averages almost two years!

 It's not going to be easy giving this little guy up! Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

We carefully evaluate the veteran’s needs and take the time to learn about their lifestyle.

For someone like Pearsall, who travels to nearly 25 cities per year for work, having a service dog is extremely helpful in navigating heavy crowds and commotion.

In her day-to-day, the photographer experiences seizures from a traumatic brain injury. So Charlie's assistance will be huge for her during long hours on the job.

 Don't worry, there will be plenty of time for naps! I keep reminding Charlie that's what adulting is all about. Hard work and ... naps! Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Lights, camera, action! I’m sure you can see how nicely this pair was matched up right before our eyes.

We customize the final portion of each dog’s training to the selected veteran’s needs. Stacy and Charlie will begin their team training in December, and we can’t wait to share how those possibilities turn into realities.

If you would like to see veterans get their assistance dogs faster, without reducing the quality of care or specialized training, please consider making a donation to America’s VetDogs!

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