On Saturday, Puppy Derek came to Parsippany to visit with Derek McConnell’s family.
A black Labrador puppy named after U.S. Army Sgt. Derek McConnell, who lost his legs in a 2011 IED explosion in Afghanistan and died this past March while recuperating, is learning the ropes when it comes to his training as a service dog for wounded veterans, and is doing “wonderfully,” according to puppy parent.
Janet Lally, who serves as a “puppy parent” to Derek during his training, said the puppy Derek has been doing great with visits to the firehouse, restaurants, schools and the beach and has already learned many obedience commands.
The puppy also been responding extremely well with learning non-verbal commands.
Puppy parents are responsible for raising the dog from the age of three months to two years, and help provide training and intense socialization for the animals by taking them to public settings such as fire houses, restaurants and schools.
After that, the dog is paired with a wounded veteran.
“He’s so cute. He’s precious,” McConnell’s mother, Siobhan Fuller-McConnell said.
Derek is one of nine puppies born to Warrior Canine Connection on June 8, 2013. He and his eight siblings are training to become service dogs for veterans. Trainers worked with the puppy until he was three months old, at which point he was placed in a home for further training then will be paired with a wounded veteran.
Therapy dogs had often visited in soldier McConnell’s room as he recovered at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
“What a wonderful tribute to Derek and his love of country,” said Siobhan Fuller-McConnell.
You can become a friend of Puppy Derek by clicking here and joining his facebok page.
Warrior Canine Connection enlists Service Members and Veterans with combat stress in the critical mission of training service dogs for fellow Wounded Warriors.
WCC’s program not only creates valuable service dogs, it harnesses the healing power of the Warrior ethos and the human-animal bond.
For more information on WCC visit www.WarriorCanineConnection.org.