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WVU Students Training Service Dogs

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MORGANTOWN -

For many people, man's best friend serves an invaluable role.

Service dogs allow many to live their lives to the fullest, but the dogs aren't born ready to work, many hours are put into preparing dogs for duty.

"We start out with our normal, typical routine. We go out side, we eat breakfast we go to class and get tons of questions in class. Everyone wants to see and pet Bella," said WVU student Morgan Syring. "When she was a puppy it was it was a little hard, she didn't want to sit still, but she's progressed so much."

At 5-months old, Bella, an adorable yellow lab, is a working dog in training. Bella is one of a dozen four-legged friends in the Hearts of Gold program being trained by West Virginia University students.

"Very few of the dogs all the way through to a true service dogs," said program director Matthew Wilson. "A lot of the end up as just very well trained dogs. They start very young we get them as puppies and get them started early with basic commands."

Bella's trainer and best friend is junior Morgan Syring.

She's one of more than 20 students in the program and is training Bella to help with people with mobility problems and veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I just love it," said Syring. When I found out I had the ability to join the program I jumped on the opportunity. I be able to help people do something a be able to get a new lease on life."

WVU started the program in 2003. One of its accomplished students Gretel can be found in the school's Carruth Center.

The labradoodle spends her days mingling with students and faculty doing exactly what she was trained to do: help.

"Seeing the person's face when you hand them a dog that will help them do everything and lead a normal life is going to be so rewarding. It'll make me feel really good about it and I'm just so happy she can help someone," Syring said.