Organization celebrates 'Passing of the Leash' for service dog

LOUDON, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Smoky mountain service dogs held a ceremony Thursday celebrating new best friends Bella, a service dog and marine Sgt. Bradley Walker

Dozens showed up on Thursday at Tellico Village Community Church for the "passing of the leash" ceremony. It's the was last step before a veteran gets to take their service dog home.

The dogs are trained from birth and it takes countless hours, days and years to get a service dog to this point. Most of the work is done by volunteers willing to help train and house the dogs on their journey to a deserving veteran.

The veteran in the ceremony Thursday was Sgt. Bradley Walker who lost both of his legs and Afghanistan from and IED explosion in 2006. his new best friend Bella will help him with mobility and balance something that's difficult to do with two prosthetic legs.

Bella has been trained to open and close doors, turn on and off light switches and will go pretty much everywhere with Sgt. Walker including a plane when he goes to Boston in August for a golf trip.

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