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TODAY puppy Wrangler becomes a police dog trained in explosive detection

Wrangler, TODAY's original puppy with a purpose, has graduated from the Connecticut State Police explosive detection program to join a K-9 team patrolling train stations.
/ Source: TODAY

We are so proud of Wrangler!

TODAY's original puppy with a purpose has graduated from the Connecticut State Police detection dog program and become part of a K-9 unit specializing in explosive detection.

Wrangler will work with Trooper First Class Kevin Reed in the Mass Transit Unit, patrolling trains and train stations from New Haven, Connecticut, to New York City.

Saxon Eastman, Wrangler's puppy raiser, was at his graduation on Dec. 8 and beamed with pride.

"I’ve had a lot of incredible experiences as a puppy raiser, but this graduation was by far one of the best,'' she wrote on Instagram. "These are the moments I live for."

After TODAY said a tearful goodbye to Wrangler in the spring of last year, he spent a year as a guide dog and then was accepted to the Connecticut State Police program in July.

Wrangler is part of a graduating class of eight Labrador retrievers that were all donated by Guiding Eyes for the Blind after determining they were better suited for K-9 duty than guide work.

"At Guiding Eyes, we always look to place dogs in the career that's right for them," Thomas Panek, President and CEO of Guiding Eyes, told TODAY. "If they don't end up as guide dogs, they may go to other important organizations where they will excel based on their distinct personalities."

"In Wrangler's case, he always loved to sniff and follow his nose," Panek said. "So detection work is a great fit for his personality!"

Our puppy with a purpose is all grown up and helping keep people safe by sniffing for explosives at train stations in Connecticut. Brandon Goodwin / TODAY

The Connecticut State Police are happy to have Wrangler join the team to keep mass transit areas safe.

"Wrangler is serving an important role within the Police community as a detection dog,'' the K-9 unit told TODAY in a statement. "His extensive training from Guiding Eyes was invaluable to preparing him for his role as a member of the CT State Police team, and we couldn’t more excited to have him as part of our organization."

While Wrangler did not end up as a guide dog as originally intended, he will be making an important impact in his new job.

"As a guide dog, Wrangler helped one person live a more independent life,'' Eastman told TODAY in July. "As a detection dog, he will be helping large groups of people, making sure that everyone is safe from criminal activity. There is no better feeling than knowing that the work Wrangler has the opportunity to do will help keep thousands of people safe every day."

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.