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Meet CJ, WZZM 13's Paws with a Cause service dog in training

She will be with Valerie for the next 14 months.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) — Health Reporter Valerie Lego on Wednesday traveled to Wayland, where she picked up a little puppy she'll foster for the next 14 months for Paws with a Cause.

Valerie joined the WZZM 13 News at 5 to talk all about the pup. The first thing to talk about is this little one's name. Thanks to all of our Facebook fans who voted, the dog is named CJ. It was a close vote, too: 41% for CJ and 40% for Coaster.

She will be with Valerie for the next 14 months. For the first eight weeks, Valerie will take her to puppy kindergarten, where she'll learn to walk on her leash without pulling, not to bark, not to jump up on people, and not to beg for attention, among other things.

When it's time to turn her over, CJ will train for three months with someone who will teach her more intricate things, like how to pick things up, open doors, and be more obedient to just one person. Then after that, they'll decide what her strengths are and whether she will go to a person who is blind or hearing impaired or has epilepsy or is physically challenged or even a child with autism. From there, she will be placed with a client and go through three months of training before becoming part of that person's life.

It takes almost three years to train a service dog, and there's a three-to-five-year waiting list for those who need them. It's not the training so much, but the need for families willing to foster a puppy that they will eventually give up that makes the wait so long.

We've got her crate all ready for her in the WZZM 13 Information Center. Although, under Valerie's desk seems to be her favorite place for the moment -- which is actually good, since that's part of what Valerie is supposed to train her to do.

We're excited to have CJ be part of the WZZM family. Coming to work with Valerie every day and going on stories with her will definitely give her all the exposure she needs to help her become a successful service dog.

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