Bunce, a service dog in training, will someday assist a veteran. For the next two years, Andrea McCarren will raise and train the pup to become a great one.
Last month, Bunce was known as Mr. Light Blue, one of seven in Warrior Canine Connection’s Semper Fi litter born in Brookeville, Maryland.
Now, the yellow Labrador pup has been renamed Bunce and it is quite a name to live up to.
The Labrador puppy was named after Marine Corporal Justin Bunce. When they met, the two Bunces had an immediate connection.
Bunce the human will now help train Bunce the puppy to help another wounded warrior.
“Just being around little angels like this guy, I am so honored to have him named after me,” said Justin Bunce.
Aside from helping his future human with physical tasks, Bunce will also make an impact in the veteran’s life in ways that medicine, surgery, and traditional therapy cannot.
“Especially a puppy, it’s just unconditional love, unconditional trust,” Justin said.
In 2004, Justin was severely wounded in Iraq. Now he is fighting to recover what he lost – battling to become the best he can be.
“You’re not fighting for a cause, for your country, for your family. You’re not even fighting for yourself. You’re fighting for your brothers beside you. It’s a bond thicker than blood,” said Justin.
After his deployment in Iraq, Justin was also injured in a car accident. He suffered a seizure while driving to meet fellow Marines coming home from their deployment.
“We would all die for our country. Most of all, die for each other,” he said.
Despite what his body had gone through, Justin’s intellect, sense of humor and compassion remains intact. Life skills trainer Katie Gorman nominated the veteran to have a puppy named after him.
“Justin is such a fascinating person and the qualities he has—the compassion, the strength, the bravery, I could go on. I thought if those traits could carry on to a dog, it would turn into one heck of a service dog for somebody,” said Katie Gorman, Justin’s Life Skills Trainer.
The Bunces have already forged a bond – one that may grow as strong as the brotherhood between fellow Marines.
“He’s a little Marine,” said Justin.
“See? He agrees!” Justin said.