Training Pupdates

Puppy Squad 1st Birthday

Brady Birthday Pupdate 1-2-19

Brady gets retired

Dear NBC 10 Boston Puppy followers/community,

After careful medical evaluation, including thorough testing and screening procedures, the team at America’s VetDogs has concluded that due to an uncommon medical condition that affects the liver, the NBC Brady in vest looking at the camera.10 Boston Puppy with a Purpose, Brady, can no longer continue his training to become a service dog for a veteran with disabilities. 

At America’s VetDogs, and its sister organization the Guide Dog Foundation, our canine care and veterinary staff are consistently monitoring the behavioral and medical well being of all of our dogs from birth through placement to ensure a successful match with the people we serve. Our priority will always be the health, safety and well-being of the dogs we breed, raise, train, and place within our programs.

We will continue to monitor and support Brady and will provide him with the best care available to ensure that he lives a happy fulfilling life as an adopted pet with his puppy raiser Hannah. 

Q: What medical condition does Brady have?

A: Our team of veterinarians discovered an abnormality in Brady’s liver that requires special care and monitoring that will continue throughout his life. Unfortunately, because of this condition, we cannot match and place Brady with a veteran with disabilities that requires them to also take on caring for Brady’s special needs. 

Q: What’s next for Brady?

A: Brady will continuously be monitored during this process as we develop a comprehensive treatment plan. As comfort, happiness and health is our top priority, Brady will have a team of staff and supporters providing him with top-notch care throughout this journey.

Following his treatment, Brady will be adopted by his puppy raiser Hannah. To learn more about our adoption process, please visit our FAQs on

Q: What type of medical evaluations do our dogs participate in?

A: All of our future assistance dogs undergo continuous medical and behavioral evaluations throughout puppy raising and the formal training prior to being placed with their veteran handler. We also require our clients to have their dogs examined by a veterinarian at least once a year.

Q: What does this mean in regards to the NBC 10 Boston Puppy with a Purpose program?

A: America’s VetDogs has had an open dialogue with our partners at NBC and we all agree that Brady’s health is of upmost importance. At this time, our partnership for the Puppy with a Purpose program with NBC 10 Boston will no longer be moving forward.

Brady visits Camden in Baltimore

Brady and the Weather Warrior

Training Pupdate 7-11-18

Brady is beginning to use a gentle leader. He loves it! The gentle leader is a headcollar that is a deterrent for pulling on leash. Just like wearing sunglasses feels strange the first time you put them on, dogs find the gentle leader to be an odd sensation at first. For this reason, we begin gentle leader desensitization very slowly. Here, Brady is actively putting his nose into the loop and getting fed. He really enjoys wearing his gentle leader! By going slowly with gentle leader training, Brady feels comfortable wearing it, which is very important. More updates on his progress to come in the following weeks!

Brady's 6 month birthday!

Training Pupdate 6-25-18

Brady is working on settling. When you are 5 months old this is a challenge! We began with down stays and the place behavior at home, then we took these on the road and practiced them in public. We're now starting the next step which is the Under behavior. When we walk up to a table and Brady is in the Heel position (left side) and I say "under" he should walk under the table and turn around to be facing me lying down on my right under the table. The reverse is true from the Side (right) position. You can see proper positioning in the pictures. This behavior will be used daily when Brady needs to be relaxed and out of the way while his veteran completes another task.

Brady settling under a table.

Puppy Raising at WPI

Pupdate 6-20-18

Pupdate 6-13-18

Training Pupdate 6-4-18

Today we're talking about stairs.  Puppies do not naturally understand that they need to walk right next to their handlers on the stairs, so Brady and I have spent lots of time working on this together.  We've turned it into a game where I stop suddenly and he needs to stop as soon as he sees me stop.  We have a lot of fun with it!

In this video you see us in a store going down the stairs.  You'll notice that I wait for Brady to offer eye contact before I say "walk" each time.  Then, once I give the "walk" cue, he should continue walking until he sees me stop.  Through our hours of practice Brady has gotten very good at walking down the stairs right next to me.  This will be an important skill when he is working with a veteran because it would be dangerous if he pulled on the stairs or refused to walk.

Brady Pupdate 5-30-18

VetDogs Prison Puppy Program Part 2

VetDogs Prison Puppy Program Part 1

Brady training pupdate 5-16-18

We have a Heel and Side update!  Brady no longer needs my hand to guide him to the correct position.  I am able to give the verbal cue and Brady lines himself up next to me.  We practice Heel and Side more than 20 times a day, so Brady gets lots of practice and this has allowed him to improve quickly.

We have also been working on his Down placement.  At the end of the video, I ask him for a down and he stays in line next to me and kicks his back feet out away from me.  This is the exact positioning we want! Brady needs to be close to his handler so he’s ready for whatever they need help with, plus it is safer in public.

Brady pupdate segment 5-8-18

Brady loose leash segment 5-2-18

Brady pupdate - audio stimulation

A question I get asked frequently is how to teach a dog not to over react to a stimulus for example, chasing a squirrel, running up to another dog, or backing away from something unfamiliar. My answer is to mark the moment the dog looks at the stimulus and reinforce them because in that moment the dog is doing exactly what you want them to do; looking at the stimulus, but not reacting. In this video, I say “yes” at the moment Brady looks at the loud bus going by and then feed him a piece of his dinner as reinforcement.

A bus can make dogs uncomfortable because they’re large, loud, and fast, so I am taking the first step in the process of teaching Brady that he can look at the bus, but he doesn’t need to react. I’m catching him before he over reacts and communicating that I like that he’s looking at the bus, but not moving towards or away from it. I practice this positive reinforcement exercise with many distractions we pass on our walks.

Brady pupdate 4-30-18

Brady "heads in" 4-25-18

Brady training pupdate 4-19-18

I’m excited to share a video of Brady beginning the process of learning Heel and Side.  These are important behaviors for a service dog to know. Heel means he is standing on his handler’s left, and Side means he is on his handler’s right.  The first step is to have a piece of kibble in my hand and show Brady how to line himself up next to me.  His toes need to be facing the same direction as my toes.  We’re on step two, where I’ve added the verbal cue of Side and Heel, and I’m using a physical cue of my empty hand to gesture where he should go, and then I give him kibble when he makes it to the correct spot.  The next step is to phase out my hand guidance and have Brady make it to the Heel and Side positions on a verbal cue only.  We can also take these positions on the move - Brady will combine his loose leash walking with Heel and Side so that we walk along past distractions in those positions on a loose leash.  Stay tuned to watch his skills advance!

Brady pupdate 4-11-18

Brady pupdate 4-10-18

Brady visits Fenway Park

Brady and Hannah pupdate 4-4-18

Brady and Hannah Pupdate 4-3-18

Brady curled up on the anchor desk.What have we been up to recently?  Sitting, staying, sleeping, socialization, and snuggling!  Brady and I had fun practicing lots of obedience behaviors such as sit, down, stay, touch, and walk.  He is now able to sleep through the night too.  Watching him establish a good schedule makes me proud of the dog he is growing up to be.  Brady needs to be comfortable around every new person he meets when he’s a service dog, so I’ve been focusing on positive interactions with lots of new people.  We even stopped by to meet the evening news team as well as the weekend anchors at NBC10 Boston.  Don’t think it’s all work and no fun for Brady because he and Eddy do plenty of snuggling too.  Brady learns and grows so fast, I can’t wait to see what he accomplishes next!

Brady visits NBC 10 on Easter Sunday 4-1-18

I'll see your Brady and raise you a Sunny 3-29-18

Pupdate with Brady and Hannah 3-28-18

Brady celebrates Nat. Puppy Day 3-23-18

Pupdate with Brady and Hannah 3-16-18

Brady is loving being a New Englander!  He gets to do the weather forecast with Matt Noyes on NBC 10 Boston, which has included a lot of snow!  Brady loves bounding through the white fluffy stuff with his ears flapping. He has also explored the Harvard and MIT campuses while they were decorated in white.

As far as training, Brady learned the "touch" behavior.  This is a targeting exercise where Brady puts his nose on the palm of my hand.  This is the foundation of service dog tasks like turning on a light switch or pressing a button to open an electric door.  Check out the video to see him practicing this fun, new skill.  Be sure to check back with us next week.  See you soon.

Pupdate with Brady and Hannah 3-16-18

Checking in with Brady and Hannah 3-14-18

Check in with Brady 3-13-18

Checking in with Brady and Hannah 3-8-18

Brady and YHannah at the Copley Plaza in Boston.Brady and Hannah at the Copley Plaza in Boston.What a week for Brady!  From taking in the bright lights of New York City, to the super warm welcome he was given in his new hometown of Boston!  It has been non-stop excitement for this little big man.  The socializing opportunities have been endless so far, seeing big trucks and hearing sirens, meeting so many new friends, and feeling different surfaces under his paws.  Brady was even welcomed to Boston by Carly Copley the Canine Ambassador of the Fairmont Copley Plaza.

We’ve been working on housebreaking this week, and Brady loves snuggling in his crate.  He’s learning about all the sounds of a house such as pots and pans, vacuum cleaners, and garbage disposals.  He’s also figuring out how to relax while riding in the car.  He adores his name, and felt right at home sporting the number 12 jersey on NBC 10 Boston. 

Weather forecast with Brady 3-7-18

Weekly check-in with Brady 3-7-18

Introducing Brady 2-27-18

Checking in with the Class of 2019

Stacy and Charlie visit TODAY 2-28-18

TODAY puppy name reveal 2-27-18

Class of 2019 on Megyn Kelly TODAY

Meet the new puppies with a purpose 2-26-18

Meet Brady

Hi there!  I’m BRADY, the new puppy at NBC Boston.  I’m so excited to live in the area with my puppy raiser Hannah for the next 16 months.  I know I have a lot to learn, but I’m going to become the best Yellow lab pup Brady poses for the camera.service dog I can to one day support a US veteran.  I wonder if we’ll get to follow in the footsteps of Paul Revere or walk the Freedom Trail?  I’ll have to ask Hannah if puppies can eat at the Union Oyster House or grab a a slice from Pizzeria Regina.  I also want to visit the New England Aquarium and Faneuil Hall too.  Maybe even take in a game at Fenway.   If you see us around town, please stop us to say hello!  Hannah and I will be on NBC Boston every week, so you can follow our adventures there, or on our very own Instagram page. 

Birthday: January 2, 2018
Mom: Muffin (Yellow Labrador Retriever)
Dad: Pancho (Black Labrador Retriever)
Siblings: Seven brothers and sisters (4 yellow male, 1 black male, 2 black female)
This male yellow Labrador Retriever is one of the largest in the litter and loves his meal-time.

Hannah Cunningham

Hannah Cunningham grew up in the Boston area, and after graduating from Boston University with degrees in psychology and philosophy, she set out to find a career that would help others. Hannah soon realized that training service dogs would combine her passions for dogs and giving back to others, particularly veterans.

Hannah holding her Boston station yellow Lab pup.She began her career as an assistant for local pet training classes in her area. From there, she attended the Karen Pryor Professionals Program to become a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner. With this new certification, she began to teach puppy kindergarten, basic manners, and advanced manners classes for Boston-area families and their puppies. Hannah also interned at the New England Aquarium in the Marine Mammal Department where she learned about the benefits of using positive reinforcement with animals both large and small. 

In 2016, Hannah was able to achieve her goal of training service dogs for veterans when she joined America’s VetDogs, where she is currently a prison puppy program advisor for several correctional institutions in Massachusetts. She is excited to be the raiser and trainer of a future service dog for the NBC Class of 2019 “puppy with a purpose” program. Hannah hopes to have impact on the veteran who will one day have this puppy in their life, and to inspire others to find their own ways to give back to the veterans who have served our country.

Get your Puppy with a Purpose

Photo of a black and yellow plush Lab toy with an AVD vest.