DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke University has some new four-legged students this semester.

In the first program of its kind, the Duke Canine Cognition Center is hosting puppies from Canine Companions for Independence, the leading assistance dog non-profit in the U.S. The puppies are part of a long-term study to find out the affects different training strategies have on assistance dogs.

After the puppies spend some time going through testing at Duke, volunteers are needed to help raise them. When the year-and-a-half process is complete, the puppies are placed with people with disabilities.

Although it's tough for the volunteers to see them go, they know their four-legged friends will provide life-changing aide for their new owners.

"It's definitely well worth it when you hand over the leash to someone who is in need of this dog to provide that assistance to them and give them that sense of independence," said Puppy Program Director, Ashton Roberts.

To become a volunteer puppy raiser, you find out more information here