CHECK THIS OUT: Local News Station Trains Puppy to Be a Veteran’s Service Dog


This story will warm your heart. It’s all about a dog and a “vet” he will actually like spending time with!

Eight staff members at Austin’s FOX 7 spent four weeks in training classes so they could help raise a guide dog for a veteran. Sure, they don’t know the vet yet, but that’s because it takes years for a dog to be trained correctly. Luckily, they plan to keep up with their new dog, Tommy, long after his four months with them are over.

This is what they aired last Friday:

Since it’s now been a week since Patriot Paws Service Dogs gave them the pup, we decided to chat with them and see how things are going with the new addition to the FOX 7 team. News Director Pam Vaught chatted with Mediaite today and gave us the inside scoop!

She explained that getting the pup wasn’t unprecedented at all.

“We’ve done four years of stories on veterans,” she reminded us. “We look at all the veterans’ issues, from insurance to health care to housing.”

Regular Mediaite readers will recall that yes, the last time we spoke with FOX 7, it was because Rebecca Thomas was very vocally challenging the VA over its refusal to pay for a veteran’s kidney transplant, so yeah, Vaught’s claim is accurate!

She called the decision by Patriot Paws to bestow a trainee on the news team “a win-win” because her staff gets a puppy and the organization gets some exposure. Exposure is right, too — they’ll air a weekly package to keep viewers updated on what Tommy has been up to as well as what Patriot Paws has been doing. They even plan to follow up with Tommy after he leaves their care and goes to a prison, where inmates will do even more training with him. Vaught explained that many inmates hope to work in animal training upon their release, so they win, too!

Finally, if the veteran Tommy is placed with is interested, Vaught said that FOX 7 hopes to showcase his final placement.

Until then, though, there is a lot of work to be done. Usually, Patriot Paws gives training puppies to homes of one or two people, so they did have to take a risk when giving Tommy over to eight different staff members. As Vaught explained, it was for the best because the schedules of everyone at the news station are so different and that pup needs a lot of attention!

Luckily, Tommy has been making it easy. When asked what he’s like, Vaught said this:

He is a smart, smart puppy …  I’m amazed at how smart and how he wants to learn.

She was careful to say that he’s still a puppy, of course, so there is some naughtiness to him. He’s “very chewy, very mouthy, very playful,” she revealed. She said that it is the job of his trainers now to mold that behavior into better behavior so that he can be placed with a vet who can use his specific skills. For instance, he enjoys tugging on her pant leg. She explained that if tugging is something he likes, he could eventually go to a veteran who has limited mobility. Then, he could tug open the fridge and retrieve food and drink items for the vet.

It was very clear that she and her team are totally enamored with Tommy, and who wouldn’t be? When asked if they would ever train another pup, she responded, “Absolutely. Absolutely.”

Want to find out more about how to raise puppies, volunteer with Patriot Paws, or donate? Go here!

[image via FOX 7]

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