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Meet Lonestar, our new puppy from Canine Companions

Meet our Canine Companion, Lonestar!
Meet our Canine Companion, Lonestar! 03:57

FORT WORTH - Lonestar is our 9-week-old puppy who is gifting the meaning behind his name, which represents Texas' Independence. He's just begun his journey of training with Canine Companions to give people in need some independence of their own.

Lonestar, who is a cross between a Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever, just started his two-year journey of training to become a service dog.

He's Larry Nelson's fifth puppy with Canine Companions, after his daughters and nieces suggested he volunteer. As a volunteer puppy-raiser, Nelson has taken on the costs for the food, vet care, toys, etc., so that a fully-trained Lonestar can go to someone with disabilities for free.

RELATED STORY: A puppy with a purpose: CBS News Texas follows the journey of a service dog

Nelson is very passionate about the cause. Although it's hard to give the puppy away after bonding, he says the reward is very special.

"It's who they go to," he said. "When they graduate, they go to help people live a more independent life. The stories are terrific and that's the thing—the reward—at the end when they go to their person. We get to hand them [the dog's] leash when they graduate and it's real special." 

Nelson says there's always a tear, but he knows how much good Lonestar will do.

Day in the life of Canine Companion, Lonestar by CBS TEXAS on YouTube

Beyond knowing his name, Nelson says Lonestar is very inquisitive and brave and he's not shy at all. But, our pup still has quite a ways to go to graduate the program. 

"There's a higher level of training and socialization that comes with being a service dog," says Public Relations and Marketing Specialist Courtney Craig. "The puppy raiser's role is to build the initial foundation of this future service dog. They do basic obedience training like "sit" and "down" and "stay," and teach them to be a nice dog at home. And then, once they're old enough they start going to outings in the community," Criag explained. "When you think about a service dog that's trained for someone with a disability, they're going to be out and about with someone who's out in the world. We want a service dog to be confident and focused in a variety of settings and that all starts as a puppy."

Meet CBS Texas' very own Canine Companion, Lonestar! 03:44

After the puppy leaves the puppy-raiser, Craig says he or she goes through more advanced training with professional Canine Companions staff. Daily training focuses on skills that clients will need, such as picking up dropped items, opening or closing doors and turning lights on or off. Once a puppy gets to professional training, they're evaluated on their skills, strengths and personality, which determines whether the dog can be matched with someone purposefully or whether the dog may be a better fit as a pet.

Each year, there are about 950 puppies born within the organization and with a 55% success rate, some 400 dogs graduate the service dog program. 

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