Two yellow labrador puppies named after two John Marshall High School graduates killed in action during the Vietnam War will spend the next two years training to become specialized service dogs.
The training at the Warrior Canine Connection program in Bethesda, Md.will be paid for with a $50,000 raised by students from John Marshall High School, the Rochester Post Bulletin reports. The students began fundraising last fall after hearing a Veterans Day presentation by the Warrior Canine Connection.
They originally planned to raise enough money to train just one dog. But donations poured in from residents, and from organizations including Disabled American Veterans and Tee it up for the Troops, the paper reports.
Soon, they had raised enough money to send little Paul and Donnie – named after Paul Allen and Donnie A. Geerdes – to service dog training school.
"I think a large part of it is that veterans were touched that high school students cared enough about veterans," says Valerie Wassmer, a teacher who served as an adviser on the project. "They were just pleased that young people are taking an interest. That's a big part of it."
During their training, the dogs will spend time with wounded veterans and learn to be companions for veterans with significant physical or psychological problems. And when they're ready, they'll be paired with veterans who need them.
And the students will be able to watch the dogs' progress through a live, online puppy cam. Here’s a shot from the puppy cam:
Service and therapy dogs have long been given to injured military veterans. The dogs can be a lifeline for veterans living with physical disabilities, traumatic brain injury and other mental health problems as a result of their service.
Watch a video to learn more about service dogs for veterans: