Ex-guide dog trainee seeks new purpose as veteran’s best friend

Ranger is an ex-guide dog trainee in search of his destiny: to be adopted and be a best friend to a veteran in need.

The young German Shepherd’s plight came to our attention through ACCES in Seattle, Washington, one of our valued veterinary partners, who – in turn – learned about Ranger through their partnership with Independence Guide Dogs, an organization that raises and trains assistance dogs for the visually impaired.

From loved to unwanted in eight months

Life started out for Ranger like it does for many companion pets in the country: purchased from a breeder by a family who wanted a big dog. From the start, the then eight week-old dog lived in an outside kennel on his family’s California property, enjoying plenty of playtime with the parents and their young child. But with another baby on the way and with the added responsibilities of raising a large puppy, the family decided that a big dog perhaps wasn’t the best fit for them. His family’s plans to sell him on Craigslist were scuttled when the breeder convinced them to donate the dog, by then ten months old, to Independence Guide Dogs (IDG), where Ranger would train to be a guide dog for a visually impaired individual. Ranger

Ranger’s journey from California to Washington was traumatic: separated from the only family he had ever known, crated for the first time and transported by a stranger in a strange car. Once at IGD, his transition remained rocky; he had no “indoor” manners and wasn’t house broken. But he demonstrated the trademark intelligence of the German Shepherd breed, learned new rules quickly and bonded with his temporary family.

Stable and adjusted to his new surroundings, Ranger was placed with a puppy raiser and professional dog trainer who knows the German Shepherd breed well. Under her care, Ranger continued to make up for lost time. He learned more obedience skills and became better socialized.

Finally, everything seemed to be going Ranger’s way – but there was a hitch.

Too sweet for service

Guide dogs are required to exhibit “intelligent disobedience,” a trait that allows them to defy their handlers when asked to do something that may be dangerous. Sweet Ranger lacks this trait; he’s eager to please, and wants and needs direction from his handler.

Sadly, Ranger’s budding career as a guide dog was over before it began.

Although not destined to be a guide dog, the staff at IGD believe that Ranger would be an “awesome” companion for a veteran in need of an intelligent, loving and loyal best friend. He is neither fearful nor aggressive, is not innately protective and doesn’t guard his handler. Ranger would thrive in an active family. He adores people, is friendly around both adults and children and – like others of his breed – is playful with other dogs, though his style of play might be a little rough for smaller dogs. Ranger (Dec2012)

Because of his intelligence and activity level, Ranger might make a good agility dog. He’s no couch potato and would be bored by a sedentary lifestyle. Above all, he’s a big “love muffin.” Ranger bonds tightly with his handler, wants constant companionship and needs a real, forever buddy – ideally a veteran in need of the loving companionship Ranger is so eager to give.

How to adopt Ranger

Individuals interested in adopting Ranger may do so through IGD directly or, if a qualifying veteran, through a special, one-time partnership between IGD and Pets for Patriots. If approved by our charity and by IGD, all of our program benefits would apply, including ongoing discounted veterinary care – like the generous 20% discount offered through ACCES – contributions to help with the startup costs of a new pet, and sponsor-provided pet discounts. Veterans interested to qualify for Pets for Patriots must apply and be approved by us before executing a final adoption contract with IGD.

While the preference is for Ranger to go to his forever home with a veteran, he is available to any qualified home. Those interested to adopt Ranger should inquire directly with IGD at pups@igdogs.org. Ranger is AKC-registered, up-to-date on all relevant vaccinations and celebrated his first birthday on St. Patrick’s Day of this year.

Although only one person can adopt Ranger, other veterans who apply to and are approved by Pets for Patriots for companion pet adoption can visit any of our three area adoption partners – Seattle Humane Society, Kitsap Humane Society and Tacoma-Pierce County Humane Society – to be a pet’s hero and give an animal in need a second chance at life.



  1. It would be great fun and an honor to have Ranger with me…

  2. Ranger sounds to be an ideal dog and I would be very interested in adopting him!! I do have other dogs smaller so that’s an important concern. Ill follow up with IGD.

  3. kathy karaba says:

    I would love ranger. why hasnn’t someone adopted him yet? I live in Milw. WI

    Most dogs don’t come that sweet, not knowing what to expect

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