COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The pandemic changed a lot of things over the last year and a half, including our partnership with Canine Companions for Independence. Instead of a year full of adventures with the NBC4 Today team, our “puppy with a purpose” Scarlet joined us via puppy cam and shared her experiences through photographs.

This week, Monica Day finally got a chance to meet Scarlet and get some puppy kisses before our pup heads off to professional training. Monica was a bit surprised by her size — her puppy raiser Paula calls her a “pocket-sized Labrador.” She was very sweet and polite, something that will serve her well as an assistance dog. Those traits will be something that the trainers at Canine Companions will be watching closely over the next six to nine months.

“Each dog is different, just like every individual is different, has a different personality, so are each of our dogs and we can’t wait to get to know more about Scarlet.” Megan Koester, Canine Companions for Independence said. “So, we’ll know Scarlet’s personality, we’ll learn a little bit about Scarlet’s work ethic, we will see all of the great work Paula has done with training on those commands, but we’re going to add 10 more commands. So, at the end of that six to nine months, Scarlet will know over 40 commands that can help individuals with disabilities.”

For Paula, this is a bittersweet time, but one that she has been working toward with Scarlet’s training.

“It’s sort of a mixed feeling. We love these dogs with all our hearts, but we also know that they’re going to a good place,” said puppy raiser Paula Barrett. 

After her professional training, if she matriculates, Scarlet will be matched, she’ll head into team training, and then become a full-fledged assistance dog. 

Learn more about Canine Companions for Independence and the upcoming “Dog Fest”.