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TODAY's 1st puppy with a purpose, Wrangler, dies at age 6

This good boy did a lot of amazing things in his short life.
/ Source: TODAY

We have sad news to share about a past member of the TODAY family. Wrangler, our very first puppy with a purpose, has died at the age of 6.

Wrangler’s original handler, Saxon Eastman, who first introduced us to the bright-eyed, yellow Labrador retriever in January of 2015, when he was just 10 weeks old, delivered the heartbreaking update on Instagram Sunday.

“I’m sad to write that last night Wrangler passed away suddenly from liver disease,” she shared alongside several photos of him from his time here at TODAY and beyond. “In his short 6 years, Wrangler did more than most humans.”

That’s no exaggeration. His time here at Studio 1A, where we learned about his special training as he learned about it, was just the beginning for Wrangler.

Vale, this is our puppy. His name is Wrangler.
Savannah Guthrie introduced her daughter, Vale, to Wrangler shortly after he made his TODAY debut. Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

“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.

But she didn’t simply write about his impressive work record. She also reminded us about the sweet dog behind all the good work.

“To me, Wrangler was my super early morning buddy,” Eastman explained. “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.”

Wrangler's first graduation, just before he began his work as a guide dog.Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

In December of 2017, Wrangler graduated from the K-9 detection program and started his life alongside his police partner, Trooper First Class Kevin Reed, who patrolled with him as part of the Mass Transit Unit, keeping trains and train stations safe from New Haven, 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 wrote.

He'll always be remembered fondly here at TODAY.
He'll always be remembered fondly here at TODAY.Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

In closing, she added a line that resonates with all who knew him here.

“It’s never lost on me how lucky I am to have known this dog,” Eastman wrote. “Love you, Wrangles.”