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Meet ‘Zipper,’ our ‘Serving Those Who Serve’ service dog in training

DENVER — FOX31 Problem Solvers: Serving Those Who Serve is teaming up with Freedom Service Dogs of America to show you what it takes to raise a puppy to eventually be a service dog — the kind that is invaluable to veterans in need. We’ll be following his journey for the next two years.

Link: Donate to Zipper’s scholarship fund

Say hello to Zipper (and follow him on Twitter: @ZipperTweets)…

Pleased to meet you! I’m Zipper, a chocolate Labrador retriever, born with along with my brothers and sisters on November 27, 2016 in West Richland, WA. When I was just 12 weeks old I moved to Colorado to start training with Freedom Service Dogs of America in hopes that I will one day be a service dog for a veteran. Until I’m old enough to start more intensive training, I’m living with a foster family, which includes two brothers who are golden retrievers, Kosmo and Pluto.

My biggest dream is to be a big, strong Freedom Service Dog graduate one day, so I can help a veteran who needs me. Even though I’m still new here, I’m already learning so much! My favorite trick so far is “touch”, which is where I touch my nose to a human’s hand, and then the coolest thing happens: I hear a “click” and I get a yummy treat! Freedom Service Dogs uses positive reinforcement to train service dogs, and I’m picking up on doing what I need to do to get a treat. What can I say? I LOVE treats and I will work for food!

Being outside, sunbathing, chasing my tail, playing with dogs, and learning new tricks are some of my favorite things to do. I’ve been working really hard on socializing with all kinds of new people, places, and things so that I can learn to be brave in any situation. I have to be strong and confident if I’m to become a service dog!

I can’t wait to grow up into a Freedom Service Dog and be a “battle buddy” for a veteran. Follow me on KDVR FOX31 for updates throughout my two-year adventure and on Twitter @ZipperTweets!

The cost to train most Freedom Service Dogs from start to finish is about $30,000. For me, because I got into the program so much younger than usual, it will cost much more. If you’d like to support me on my journey, I would really appreciate it! Thank you!