"He started a wave of national media coverage for guide and service dogs," wrote Wrangler's handler Saxon Eastman, announcing that the yellow Lab made famous on Today died of liver disease

By Glenn Garner
Updated July 20, 2021 08:31 AM
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Wrangler
Credit: Heidi Gutman/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty

Wrangler, a canine who stole hearts and raised awareness of service dogs on The Today Show, has died. He was 6.

The yellow Labrador retriever died on Saturday night, after struggling with liver disease, his handler Saxon Eastman announced on Instagram. "I'm sad to write that last night Wrangler passed away suddenly from liver disease," she wrote. "In his short 6 years, Wrangler did more than most humans."

"He started a wave of national media coverage for guide and service dogs, he worked as a guide dog, and most importantly, he protected thousands of people everyday as a Connecticut State Police Explosives Detection K9," Eastman continued.

Wrangler was introduced on Today in 2015 as their very first "Puppy with A Purpose," when he was just 10 weeks old. In partnership with the New York nonprofit Guiding Eyes for the Blind, the show documented his training to become a guide dog.

Wrangler
Credit: Heidi Gutman/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty

On Tuesday, the Today Show paid tribute to Wrangler's life and time on the show with a sweet video montage showing his arrival as a puppy and his impact on the staff — saying he had been with the staff for nearly 300 shows and 600 treats.

Wrangler was beloved by many at home, but "to me, Wrangler was my super early morning buddy," Eastman wrote. "He had the most perfectly squishable neck rolls. He rarely caught the ball, but never stopped trying. He was one of the few Labs I know who wasn't fickle with his love. And I know that my life would look very different today if he hadn't been a part of it."

Today producer Sandy Lee also reacted to the news on Twitter, as she reflected on working with the pup. "Ugh, heartbroken. Wrangler was the best co-worker and such a sweet boy. He lit up the studio with joy and helped me through some tough work times. Thank you, Wrangler, for your service and your friendship," she wrote. "I hope heaven has endless treats for you."

The good boy graduated from the Connecticut State Police detection dog program in December 2019, specializing in explosive detection. He partnered with Trooper First Class Kevin Reed in the Mass Transit Unit, patrolling trains and train stations between New Haven, Connecticut, and New York City.

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"I'm so grateful to Kevin and his family for giving Wrangler the most incredible life, and for loving him so much," Eastman concluded. "It's never lost on me how lucky I am to have known this dog. Love you, Wrangles."