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From the moment Adler was placed into puppy raiser Amy Stern's arm, his life has been guided by a single goal: To become a service dog.

That journey, in some ways, began before his birth as Adler, a half golden retriever, half lab mix, was bred with eye an to making him an elite dog. Adler wears a yellow Canine Companions for Independence cape, marking him as a dog in training. Stern will spend 15 months training Adler, turning her raw recruit into an obedient, disciplined dog that knows 40 commands.

But it's only one stage in his training. Eventually, Adler will be sent to one of CCI's advanced training schools, where, if all goes according to plan, Adler will be paired with a person when his training is complete. Adler's training is meant to bond him to the person he serves, to condition him to look to that person for instructions. But nothing is guaranteed in this training process. Fewer then 40 percent of dogs graduate from CCI.

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