NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A little pup is now the newest New York Islander.

For just over a year, she’ll attend every home game – interacting with the crowds and players, spreading smiles and laughs – but ultimately she’ll be serving a greater purpose.

“This little gal here is a 10-week-old yellow lab and she’s a future service dog,” said Andrew Rubenstein of America’s VetDogs.

The puppy, whose name is still up for vote and will be revealed Thursday, will grow up to eventually serve a veteran or first responder through the nonprofit foundation.

“Our dogs are trained to perform nightmare interruption, turn lights on and off, get help, retrieve (and) a number of other tasks to help a vet with disabilities,” said Rubinstein.

The ultimate goal is to give recipients a stronger sense of independence.

For the second year in a row, the Islanders are helping to spread the word. The partnership is called “Puppy for a Purpose” where the team gives the foundation a platform to share its cause. In exchange, the teammates get someone to play with on the sidelines and a hug to look forward to after every game.

“She is a heartbreaker,” said Ann Rina, NY Islanders senior director of community relations. “She is very cute. The fans are going to love her. Just based on some of the videos we’ve already shot, I think she’s going to be a fan favorite for the upcoming season.”

Attending the games is a huge part of the future service dog’s training. She’ll learn how to avoid distractions and focus on her puppy raiser, volunteer Lisa Rossano.

Rossano has raised a number of dogs with the nonprofit. She’ll take the little one under her wing for about 15 months before she heads off to formal training, and then her new home.

“I cry every time because just to have that little bit of input into her training, and to see a veteran blossom with a new beginning is priceless to me,” said Rossano.

“Just knowing that we’re helping the process of training a puppy that will eventually go to a service member’s home is really important to us,” said Rina. “We’re happy to participate.”

The team picked the lab after its annual “Pucks and Paws” calendar photoshoot on Tuesday.

They had some fun on social media, posting gifs of the pup and players on their day off all in an effort to spread some smiles and ensure America’s Vetdogs can continue to serve those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Click here to help vote for a new name for the puppy. Voting closes tomorrow, and the name will be announced Thursday.


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