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

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,” 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.

Get Educated. The first step to being an outstanding pet owner, according to Dr. Becker, is taking responsibility. “Nobody ever says ‘I was a lousy pet owner.’ It’s always the pet’s fault.” Learn the peculiarities of your pet’s breed such as how much exercise they need, how gregarious they are, how much maintenance their coat requires, how often they need to go outside, and about new technologies, products, and nutrition that might help you care for your pet. Knowing the basics about your pet’s upkeep ensures you won’t be caught off guard by troubling behavior.

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.”

Use a Front Clip Harness to Prevent Pulling on Leash. If your dog pulls on his leash get a harness that clips in the front. The harnesses that clip on the back promote more pulling. And when you’re working on leash manners ditch the retractable leash for a regular 6 foot one so your dog can get the feeling of what loose leash walking means.

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.Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

The routine of caring for a pet can bring structure and purpose to daily life. Maybe you don’t always want to get out of bed, but your pet wants you to. Isn’t that a good thing?

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.”