Almost five years ago, a video randomly showed up on my Facebook page. In it was a litter of newborn puppies from a nonprofit called Warrior Canine Connection. There were six of them, and they were called “Holly’s Half Dozen.”
I got hooked, watching those little Golden Retriever fluff balls. I watched the day that their names were chosen: Lucy, Grace, Ruby, Abby, Levi, and Penny. The WCC staff pulled the names out of bowl, from names suggested by their fans, the “Extreme Puppy Watchers.”
At around two to three months old, they were placed with their “puppy parents,” the people who had volunteered two years of their time and effort to raise and train them to be service dogs to wounded veterans.
Lucy was the most daring. Levi was an escape artist. All the pups were adorable, but one in particular had a gregarious puppy parent who enjoyed sharing photos and videos with us. We EPWs (Extreme Puppy Watchers) had the pleasure of watching Penny during her training and exploits. My book, Penny Possible, is based on Penny’s daily adventures.
Penny is now a service dog. She was assigned her veteran over two years ago. From time to time, he still posts a photo or a video of her, and we EPWs melt just like we did when she was a puppy.
Since Holly’s Half Dozen, there have been many litters born at Warrior Canine Connection. These are Golden and Labrador Retrievers who are now working as service dogs or being trained to be service dogs, which will make life more “possible” for our veterans.
With each new litter, their training begins almost immediately. By the age of two weeks, they are starting to be socialized by WCC staff and visits from trained volunteers.
Soon after that, the puppy petting starts. This is when trained volunteers go to WCC’s Healing Quarters be with the puppies during the day, petting, feeding, potty training, etc. If I lived near Boyds, Maryland, you can bet that I would be one of them.
During the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show last week, they aired a video about a veteran who had received a service dog from Warrior Canine Connection. I cannot watch it without crying. In fact, I can’t even think about it without tearing up.
Twenty-two veterans a day commit suicide here in the US. At Warrior Canine Connection, they are working to prevent that.
On January 30, the Courage Litter of WCC pups was born. Their mother is Jessi, a beautiful red Golden Retriever. There are eight puppies, four boys and four girls.
At almost three weeks old, their eyes are open and they are toddling (waddling) around like drunken sailors. They have gotten so big in these three weeks that there’s barely room for all of them at the milk bar now. Next week, they will start eating puppy mush.
If you need a reason to smile, you can head over to Explore.com and watch them on the live puppy cam, day or night.
And remember, as Penny says, “It’s all possible. Woop, woop!”
Top photo: Penny and her brother, Levi
Bottom photo: Jessi with her newborns